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.

Rep Warren Petersen: Why Conservatives Oppose Expansion of Obamacare

Warren PetersenThe battle over the Arizona expansion of Obamacare resembles the fight between David and Goliath. The pro-expansion team has millions of dollars, powerful lobbyists, support from all Democratic legislators, most if not all of the media and a few Republicans who have defected to their cause.

You’ve probably heard radio ads, watched commercials on ESPN or received a full page glossy mailer promoting their “conservative plan.” The only problem is that conservative legislators do not support it.

Here are a few reasons why.

We don’t fall for optical illusions. When the pro-expansion team bused in 300 people to their last rally, we knew that their support was a charade. When they say 63,000 people will lose coverage, we knew that it was not true. Those currently on Medicaid will still have coverage with or without the expansion. Even if it was true, they could get insurance from exchanges with any minimum wage job. We know that it is money and not compassion that is driving this train. A train that Harry Reid (U.S. Senate majority leader) said will wreck without the appropriation of more federal funds.

We stick to the facts and know that the budget put forth by Arizona Senate President Andy Biggs will not drain the rainy day fund or kick people off Medicaid. It does, however, include a request to renew our federal waiver. The pro-expansion team has said the waiver has been denied when, in reality, it has not. Cutting and pasting a web FAQ directed to 50 states is not the same as formally submitting your plan and receiving a denial letter. Ironically, this is the same argument the Democrats made when we last requested a waiver. They said we couldn’t get it, but we did. Will they deny that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled you can’t coerce people into expansion?

Another fact is that expansion doesn’t deal with health care of poor children. We are talking about a select group of adults of whom many have incomes above the poverty level. We are not talking about disabled people who cannot work. They have and will continue to have Medicaid coverage.

We have learned from history that we can afford to wait a year with or without the waiver as Arizona was the last state to implement Medicaid. We waited about 20 years and now it consumes one of every four dollars we spend. Obamacare is going to implode, which even the pro-expansion team admits. When it does, the expansion will go with it. It would be foolish to add onto something that is unraveling prior to implementation.

We know the numbers don’t add up. Conservatives don’t raise taxes on hospitals as a gimmick to draw down federal funds and they don’t put hundreds of thousands of people on a welfare program that will cost billions. Billions will be added to the national debt of which some will be used to fund abortions. Fortunately, half of the states have now refused the expansion. They took advantage of this rare opportunity to cut federal spending.

We believe in the American dream, which depends on every able bodied American to contribute and work. As mentioned before, a minimum wage job qualifies a person for health care exchange coverage. This will increase wealth and allow further contributions to society. Ours is a society that has been the most prosperous in the world because it promises that people can keep what they earn. Nations that guarantee benefits others have earned fail. Conservatives understand that and know that expansion is nothing more than massive growth of the welfare state and a direct threat to our long-term economic health.

Warren Petersen serves the citizens of Legislative District 12. He and his wife and children reside in the Town of Gilbert. For more information, visit his Facebook page.

Representative Warren Petersen Needs Your Help on Three Bills

I want to make you aware of 3 bills that I am concerned about.   Your involvement can make a big difference.  There is a great website called lifelibertyfreedom.com that will allow you to email all of the legislators of the House and let them know how you feel.
HB2060 – Censure Bill (link)
This bill will allow school board members to censure each other.  This could be a tool used to ruin the reputation of a conservative or a liberal school board member.  School board members should feel free to speak their mind and their concerns whether or not they are in the minority of the board.  Please email the legislature and tell them to vote NO on HB2060.  It will be voted on in the house tomorrow 2/14/13 at 1:30 pm.
HB2343 – Public Employees, compensation for union activity (link)
This bill prohibits taxpayer dollars to be used for union activity.  If you believe union dues and not taxpayer dollars should fund union activities then please email the legislature and tell them to vote YES on HB2343.  It will be heard in committee on 2/19/13.
HB2456 – Revenue allocation districts (link)
This bill passed out of committee and will soon go to the House floor for a vote.  This would allow town councils to draw boundaries around businesses and form a board that will tax the businesses.  The revenue from the businesses will be used by the board for “economic development”.  This bill is a dream come true for big business and the well connected to create taxing districts and then control the funds.  If you don’t believe in business taxing districts then please email the legislature and tell them to vote NO on HB2456.
Small businesses and individuals have little to no voice at the Capitol.  They can’t afford to hire a lobbyist to protect their interest.  We need your help.  Please pick the issues above that you feel are important and use lifelibertyfreedom.com to email every Republican legislator in the house to tell them how you feel.  It will be Republicans that decide if these bills pass or not.  Please do not attack any of the legislators sponsoring the bills but focus on the bill itself.
You can reach State Representative Warren Petersen online.