Gov Ducey: Why Vote For Prop 123? Some Teachers Have More Kids Than Books​

Vote Prop 123

By: Governor Doug Ducey

This week, Arizonans will receive early ballots in the mail for one of the most important policy initiatives of this election cycle – the passage of Proposition 123 to increase funding for public schools in Arizona.

As many in our state know, there has been a dark cloud hanging over Arizona’s budget when it comes to funding education.

Our kids have needs today

Voting “yes” on Prop. 123 will settle a years-long lawsuit and put $3.5 billion into our K-12 public schools over the next 10 years without raising taxes. It’s time to stop paying lawyers and start paying teachers.

I’ve visited schools all across our state, and the message is clear. Our kids have needs today, and our educators need more resources to do their jobs.

Prop. 123 is a fiscally responsible, historic first step towards giving our students and teachers the resources they need. It puts money back in the classroom. And it doesn’t raise taxes. I know it sounds almost too good to be true: If this doesn’t raise taxes, how are we paying for it?

How it works

What many don’t know is that Arizona has a something called the State Land Trust – a fund with assets that have been set aside and invested for decades specifically to benefit education. This plan ensures we are managing the trust responsibly while putting the money to use for the purpose it was intended: funding our K-12 public schools.

So how does it work?

When Arizona became a state, the federal government granted our founders nearly 11 million acres of state land. Every time we sell a piece of that land, proceeds go into the Land Trust where the money is invested and earns interest. The trust has been growing rapidly in value – nearly doubling in the past five years. And now it is valued at more than $5 billion.

Currently, only 2.5 percent of the trust is distributed to schools every year. We can do better. A “yes” vote on Prop. 123 will increase the distribution rate to 6.9 percent for the next 10 years. That means we will be able to use more of this money for its intended purpose: funding our schools.

We haven’t ignored future needs

But this plan also takes into account the needs of future generations. An analysis done by the non-partisan Joint Legislative Budget Committee shows that even with the higher distributions if Prop 123 passes, there will be more than $6 billion in the Land Trust in a decade. That’s a billion dollars more in the trust after 10 years, even while we are increasing funding to education.

And let’s not forget: Arizona still has 9.2 million acres of land worth approximately $70 billion that are yet to be sold and fund the trust.

The bottom line is that passing Prop 123 ensures the long-term health of the trust, while injecting an infusion of resources into classrooms that have needs today.

When there are more kids than books

I’ve met with teachers and parents across the state, and they’ve made it clear — while reforms are important, right now they need resources to provide the excellent education all our children deserve.

Too often, I hear stories of teachers and parents spending part of their paychecks to ensure there are supplies in the classroom – even basic necessities like pens, pencils and paper. This is unacceptable.

Just a few weeks ago, I met a fourth-grade teacher named Maddy Sporbert who was volunteering for Prop. 123. She told me that she wants Prop. 123 to pass because right now she has 34 students in her class, but only 25 textbooks.

She was spending spring break — her vacation — getting out the vote for Prop. 123 to ensure her students have enough textbooks next year. She needs us to vote “yes.”

Good teachers are fleeing our state

Eighth-grade science teacher Paul Strauss told me that in his many years of teaching he’s seen countless dedicated teachers leave the profession because it is so hard to support a family on a teacher’s salary in Arizona.

We know teachers are fleeing our state or leaving the profession because of a continued lack of funding for education. Voting “yes” on Prop 123 will allow us to reverse that trend and start paying teachers what they deserve. In fact, school boards across Arizona have committed that boosting teacher salaries will be their number one priority if Prop. 123 passes.

Many districts even have two budgets: one if Prop. 123 passes, and one if it fails.

If it fails, that means more litigation and less certainty for our teachers and students.

Please join me, Mayor Greg Stanton, a bipartisan coalition of legislators, countless community and business leaders, teachers and parents in voting “yes” for Prop. 123 on May 17.

WATCH: Teachers Explain Why They Support Prop 123

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Today, we released our latest ad where teachers explain why it’s so important to support Prop 123.
If Prop 123 passes, $3.5 billion will flow into school districts across the state over the next decade.

This is all possible without raising taxes and it will provide students much-needed stability so they have every opportunity to learn, achieve and succeed.

But, these teachers and students need your help to ensure Prop 123 passes.

Please sign up to volunteer using the button below, to help spread the word about why it’s SO IMPORTANT to vote YES on May 17.

VOLUNTEER FOR PROPOSITION 123

 

ATRA: AG Audit Harshly Critical of GPLET

ATRA

By Jennifer Stielow

A recent audit by the Arizona Auditor General (AG) revealed many critical flaws surrounding the calculation, collection, distribution, and reporting of the Government Property Lease Excise Tax (GPLET).

According to the AG’s review of 268 leases, nearly half are currently under eight-year abatement; and therefore, no revenue is being collected. Forty-five percent of the leases examined are paying GPLET under the rate structure that existed prior to 2010 that imposes a dramatically lower tax burden than the current GPLET rates. Of all the leases audited, only 16 (6%) are subject to the new GPLET rates. As a result, the AG found that the 2010 GPLET revisions have not resulted in increased revenue as expected because so few leases pay tax under the new rate structure.

Additionally, the AG found many examples where the incorrect GPLET was calculated because either the wrong rates were used and/or not all of the property subject to GPLET was included. In fact, in certain instances lessees failed to remit GPLET payments altogether.

The audit also found that the distribution of GPLET revenues by county treasurers was done incorrectly by using the distribution percentages for property tax rather than GPLET, which are different. Furthermore, although county treasurers are required to assess penalties and interest on delinquent payments, none did so.

There are several reporting requirements under GPLET, one of which requires county assessors to annually report the value of all GPLET property, which includes properties under abatement, to the Arizona Department of Education (ADE). The AG found that only three of the seven counties that have GPLET deals reported the valuation of GPLET properties to ADE. This is a major cause for concern since underreporting GPLET values to ADE requires the state general fund to pay more in state aid payments to school districts than otherwise required. Overall, auditors’ interviews with city, town, and county officials indicated a general lack of understanding of GPLET requirements and recommended the Legislature modify statutes to address GPLET deficiencies.

This special audit was a requirement of the 2010 legislation that enacted several revisions to GPLET. The purpose of the audit was to determine if the revisions resulted in a viable revenue source in lieu of an ad valorem property tax on possessory interests for counties, cities and towns, community colleges, and school districts.

Originally enacted in 1996 as a successor to the possessory interest tax, GPLET allows government to enter into lease agreements with private entities to use government-owned property for private use and be subject to an excise tax in lieu of a property tax. By 2010, cities had dramatically expanded their use of the eight-year abatement. Additionally, the tax liability under the existing GPLET rate structure was not only considerably lower compared to the property tax, but the entire tax obligation disappeared at fifty years.

In an effort to address some of the inequities with GPLET, the 2010 legislation limited the size of Central Business District (CBD) boundaries for leases who qualify for the eight-year abatement. A new rate structure was implemented that nearly doubled the existing rates, and while rates under the old structure dropped 20% every ten years until reaching zero by the fiftieth year, the new rates are adjusted annually by the producer price index for new construction indefinitely. Finally, the legislation prospectively limited GPLET deals to a maximum of 25 years, including any abatement period, at which time the government lessor is required to convey the property to the prime lessee and the property is then placed on the property tax rolls.

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The Arizona Tax Research Association (ATRA) is the only statewide taxpayer organization representing a cross section of Arizona individuals and businesses. Organized in 1940, ATRA is the largest and most respected independent and accurate source of public finance and tax policy information. ATRA represents taxpayers before policy makers at the state and local level. ATRA’s fundamental belief is that every governmental expenditure is directly related to a tax. ATRA’s goal is efficient statewide government and the effective use of tax dollars through sound fiscal policies.

Bill to streamline and consolidate campaign finance laws passes state Senate

Phoenix, AZ – A bill to allow the Secretary of State’s office to crack down on illegitimate, unlawful political spending has passed the Arizona Senate.

“I’m pleased our campaign finance bill (SB1516) to root out unlawful political spending has passed the Senate,” said Secretary Reagan.  “Hopefully, If the bill passes the House and is signed into law by the Governor, our office will finally have the tools necessary to go after fly-by-night “convenience corporations” who show up in Arizona on Tuesday and start spending money on Friday in our elections.”

“The ability to differentiate between bad actors and perfectly legitimate companies exercising their basic right to speak is historic,” continued the Secretary.  “It’s concerning to many that institutional groups like the Cattlemen’s Association, Planned Parenthood, Chamber of Commerce or Sierra Club would have to hand over the personal information of their members and supporters to a government agency. These provisions strike the right balance between holding wrongdoers accountable and protecting legitimate not-for-profits from big brother tracking the issues and causes they support and deciding what political speech they wish to regulate.

“In conjunction with our revolutionary, soon-to-be-released campaign finance reporting system, citizens will better able to educate themselves about the connections between the people who write checks and the politicians that cash them.”

Sponsored by Senator Adam Driggs, SB1516 is a comprehensive rewrite of Arizona campaign finance law.  While provisions related to anonymous political spending are extremely important, the legislation also provides a clear, concise set of policies and procedures where citizens can easily find and understand the rules by which they can engage in political activity.

Governor Doug Ducey: I’m Voting Yes on Prop 123

The committee Let’s Vote Yes For Arizona Schools, In Support of Prop 123 released the following ad today featuring Governor Doug Ducey explaining why he supports Prop 123.

In the ad, Governor Ducey provides reasons how and why Arizonans should support public teachers. Passage of the proposition will provide $3.5 Billion directly into our public schools over the next 10 years without raising any taxes. This money will be used to invest into teachers to reverse the trend of teachers leaving Arizona due to low compensation.

Governor Ducey, the father of three sons, knows firsthand the impact that great teachers have on a child. That’s why he’s supporting Prop 123 on May 17th.

Arizona Historical Society Obstructing Science Education

Over 40,000 children visited the once top rated Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum in Phoenix every year. Most were brought by teachers or scout leaders to participate in structured earth science education programs. School busses arrived almost daily, and came from as far away as Yuma.

Then, the Arizona Historical Society gained control of it in 2010.  In early 2011, the AHS inexplicably locked the doors even as children were still scheduled for field trips. Every year since, the AHS has accepted and spent the full mineral museum budget, but has refused to operate the museum.

Now, Senate Bill 1440 would reopen the museum and restore the K-12 education programs by transferring all mineral museum assets to a state agency willing and able to operate the mineral museum. The AHS is now using public funds to hire lobbyists to oppose the bill. The AHS has no plans for the building, but does not want to allow others to reopen the mineral museum for students and teachers.

Dick Zimmermann, Tempe

VIDEO: What is Arizona’s Prop 123?

The first video by supporters of Prop 123 has debuted. Watch as parents and teachers explain what Prop 123 is and why they are supporting it on May 17th.

SOS Michele Reagan Refers AZGOP Complaint to AG Mark Brnovich

Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan has pushed forward a complaint to the Attorney General Mark Brnovich regarding a complaint filed by the Arizona Republican Party related to a political committee headed by former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson. The complaint alleges that Johnson’s political committee, “Open Nonpartisan Elections” or ONE, violated reporting requirements when it failed to report a $10,000 political contribution from Jeff Covill.

Secretary Reagan also did not find reasonable cause regarding other political contributions and expenditures received and made by a parallel 501(c)4 organization registered under the same name. That complaint alleged that the non-profit organization was involved in electioneering when it received a $100,000 donation from Open Primaries and hired the Phoenix-based political firm HighGround. Donations and expenditures $10,000 or greater are required to be reported within 24 hours of receipt.

The matter now proceeds to the Attorney General’s Office where it will be litigated.

To read Secretary of State Michele Reagan’s letter of reasonable cause, click here.

Sen Sylvia Allen: Common Sense is Needed! (On Refugee Policy)

Senator Sylvia Allen

Senator Sylvia Allen

These are dangerous times in Arizona and across the world. The terror in Paris and San Bernardino are reminders that evil can appear anywhere, and anytime. One of the terrorists in Paris entered Europe embedded in a group of Syrian refugees. One of the killers in California entered the United States under something called a “fiancé visa’, after being radicalized. No matter what precautions we try to take in the U.S. to keep our citizens safe, it seems there will always be criminals and terrorists able to avoid detection.

That’s why I support Governor Ducey’s effort to be sure that Arizona has a say in who is brought here.  It will be Arizona taxpayers who will need to help fund these refugee families, and it will be Arizona families who will be harmed if terrorists fall through the vetting cracks and end up in our state.    It is Governor Ducey’s responsibility to protect the health, welfare and safety of Arizona’s citizens.

America is a welcoming country, and it will continue to be, but we also must use vigilance and common sense when we determine who can enter our great country. When it comes to Muslim refugees, we should not only base our decision on what is best for us, but what is also best for them.

Many Muslims live under Sharia Law.  Islam is a political system as well as a religious system and Sharia Law is at the center of that system.  Our Constitutional form of government is in direct opposition.  Would they not be happier in a country that better reflects their beliefs?   Balancing compassion with common sense would tell America that we should help relocate these refugees in other Muslim countries.

Glenn Beck, through his charity Mercury One, has just relocated 149 Christian refugees from Iraq to Slovakia.  Thousands of Americans donated to Beck’s charity to fund the relocation.   Since the US is not allowing Christian refugees (why aren’t we???), Beck found a country who would take them. Close to 500 refugees had been planned for relocation, but the United Nations and the European Union put heavy pressure on Slovakia to stop taking the Christian refugees.

In 1980, my Tenney extended family sponsored a Hmong family.  That program required fellow Americans to take responsibility in finding housing, employment and all their other needs.   The family we helped was a father, mother, three girls and a grandmother.  They lived at my mother’s house, and I helped get the girls into school and found a job for the father.   These refugees were being targeted because the father had fought on the side of America in the Vietnam War.  The Communist governments that took over South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia swept through those countries, killing millions.  Today, this family lives in California, and the girls have all graduated and are good productive citizens.  It was very rewarding for me to help this family.  I am not against helping people in need.

Common sense is needed.   Our lives, as well as the lives of the refugees, depend on it.

Senator Sylvia Tenney Allen
President Pro Tempore, Arizona State Senate

Rep Warren Petersen: Punish Public Officials Who Abuse Taxpayer Monies

Warren PetersenIn case you missed it, Representative Warren Petersen held a press conference on Monday preempting a bill he plans to introduce that will punish public officials who wrongfully misallocate tax dollars and then try to grab pension, severance pay or other benefits on their way out of public service.

Petersen’s bill comes in response to Phoenix ValleyMetro’s CEO Stephen Banta resigning with an annuity of $265,000 after he was exposed using taxpayer dollars to for lavish expenses.

Representative Petersen released the following statement:

I want to thank you for coming out today.  Recently there has been a lot of coverage about the scandal that has occurred at Valley Metro.  Apparently an employee has misappropriated sacred taxpayer dollars.  While this has received a lot of attention, this is certainly not the first case of this in the state of Arizona.  There have been various incidents over the years of public officials using public funds to enrich themselves rather than serve the public good.  Clearly there is neither a sufficient deterrent nor oversight in place to prevent such malfeasance.  Worse we have learned all too often that those who are caught and terminated, leave with lavish payouts, annuities, pensions and other benefits.  

Termination from a high position in government should not be like winning the lotto.  Rewarding someone for bad behavior can only encourage more of the same.  This is unacceptable and the current way of doing things has change.  It is for this reason that I will be working with council member Dicicio and introduce legislation to prevent this from happening in the future.  What I will be proposing is that any public employee who is caught misappropriating tax dollars shall be ineligible for any severance pay, annuity, pension or other benefit.  Furthermore to add a layer of oversight and accountability I will make sure that any taxpayer will have standing in such an event.  The problem with the oversight of a 30 member board is this.  When 30 people are responsible for something, nobody is responsible.  All too often a watchdog citizen or journalist will do a much better job than a 30 member board.  We believe this will be a strong deterrent for malfeasance and a merited penalty for those who violate the law.  

We only hear about the people who are caught.  There is no doubt that there are many who go unpunished.  If there is no punishment we are just going to have faith that people will do the right thing for the sake of doing what’s right.  And there are plenty of people who are doing the right.  This legislation is not for them nor anything they need to worry.  However those who are engaged in illicit behavior will soon have something to cause them to think twice before they squander taxpayer funds.

Petersen was also joined by Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio during the press conference. DiCiccio has been a longtime reformer fighting and exposing corruption in city government.