Americans For Prosperity Releases 2017 Legislative Scorecard

Are your state legislators Champions of the Taxpayer… or Champions of BIG Government?
 
 
The Arizona chapter of Americans for Prosperity has released its 2017 Legislative Scorecard. Go to www.azscorecard.com to see the results!  
 
AFP-Arizona’s scorecard assigns weights to over 300 bills according to their projected dollar impact to Arizona taxpayers, consumers and producers, with $1 million equaling one point on the scorecard.
 
This year’s legislative session was very positive. Here are some highlights:
 
SB 1522:  Balanced and Responsible Budget — The FY 2017-18 budget protects families and businesses from tax increases by growing state government spending more slowly than the rate of growth of the Arizona economy. The final FY 2018 budget figure was $9.817 billion. Even with $25 million in supplemental increases to the FY 2017 budget, the total was $55 million under a population-plus-inflation increase over last year’s budget.
 
SB 1431:  School Choice Expansion — By expanding eligibility for Arizona’s system of Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs), this reform will help more Arizona schoolchildren obtain the educational resources they need to succeed. Please use THIS LINK to thank Governor Ducey and your legislators for supporting school choice!
 
SB 1437:  Right to Earn a Living — This reform allows would-be entrepreneurs and job-creators to challenge professional licensing regulations designed to stifle competition and do nothing to protect public health and safety.
 
SB 1152:  Stopping Hidden Tax Hikes — This reform protects families and businesses by requiring local governments to put sales tax increases on the ballot in November of even-numbered years, rather than hiding those measures in low-turnout elections.
 
As it has done in past years, AFP-Arizona also grades legislators and the governor on missed opportunities, important reform bills that are prevented from reaching floor votes in the House or Senate. 
 
Among this year’s missed opportunities was the Senate’s failure to bring the Truth in Spending budget transparency reform to a floor vote, and the House’s failure to bring the Education Spending Transparency Act to a floor vote.
 
The highest-scoring legislator on AFP-Arizona’s 2017 Scorecard was Rep. Travis Grantham of Gilbert, with 94 percent, which earned him the designation of “Hero of the Taxpayer.”  The lowest-scoring legislator on the 2017 Scorecard was Sen. Martin Quezada, with 17 percent, which earned him the designation of “Champion of Big Government.”
 
For Liberty & Prosperity, 
 
Tom
 
Tom Jenney
Senior Legislative Advisor
Americans for Prosperity-Arizona
 
PS: To view scorecards from previous years, click HERE.

Border Adjustment Tax Could Derail Tax Reform

Americans for Prosperity - Arizona

By: Tom Jenney – Americans for Prosperity, Arizona

One of the most enduring symbols of Arizona is the Grand Canyon.  In fact, many people have nicknamed us the Grand Canyon State.  This most famous of the national parks also illustrates the stakes for Arizonans in the debate that is currently being waged in Washington, D.C. over tax reform.

Let there be no mistake: the so-called Border Adjustment Tax (BAT) would blow a Grand Canyon-sized hole in our economy and the budgets of working families.

In Arizona, the retail industry is a significant source of jobs.  There are more than 64,000 retail businesses that support 828,000 jobs, contributing $53 billion to our economy every year.  If you lined up the workers who are employed because of retail in Arizona shoulder to shoulder, they would span just about the entire length of the Grand Canyon.  That’s a lot of jobs and many of them could be on the chopping block if Speaker Paul Ryan, and U.S. House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady move forward with the BAT.

The BAT is a national sales tax that would raise $1 trillion in new revenue over the next ten years by taxing imports.  Small businesses, particularly retailers would be discriminated against, while big multinational corporations that ship products overseas, would have their exports exempted from federal taxes.  This is a classic example of Washington picking winners and losers among industries, but in this case, it would be middle-income working families who get the shortest end of the stick and pay the ultimate price.

The BAT would drive up the cost of everyday necessities, such as gasoline, groceries, food and clothing, including prescription medicines.  According to the National Retail Federation, the average Arizona family could end up paying more than $1,700 per year in higher prices.  This is a lot of money that struggling, working families, who have seen their wages stagnate in recent years, simply can’t afford to pay.

Fortunately, the BAT is running into a buzz saw of political opposition.  Conservative organizations such as the Club for Growth and Americans for Prosperity have blasted the BAT as being anti-consumer and anti-free market.  Senator Jeff Flake should take note of this opposition and publicly oppose it.  Moreover, Congressman David Schweikert sits on the Ways and Means Committee and should work to keep this tax increase on Arizona families from ever getting out of his committee.

Arizona’s elected leaders could do the vital retail businesses in our state and middle-class families a great service by formally announcing their opposition and driving a nail in the coffin of BAT.  Tax reform is too important to the health of the economy and the pocketbooks of working households for it to be derailed by an exotic, anti-consumer, anti-small business tax.  The BAT is simply bad policy, and it deserves to die an early death, so conservative, free market tax reform can get back on the right track.

It is time to save tax reform, which is badly needed for families and businesses alike in Arizona, by saying no to and killing the BAT.  That is the first step to fairly and equitably lowering the rates for everyone and allow the free market to work.  Conservatives were not elected to Congress to put their thumb on the scale and pick winners and losers, and that is exactly what a trillion-dollar tax increase on Arizona families does in exchange for a permanent tax holiday for multinational companies, many of which already exploit loopholes and receive special deals from lobbyists in Washington.  Senator Flake and Congressman Schweikert, voters sent you to the nation’s capital to fight for their interests and are watching who you stand up for.

Tom Jenney is the State Director of the Arizona Chapter of Americans for Prosperity.

Arizona AFP: LAST CALL: RSVP for Friday’s Celebration!

We are excited to celebrate YOU this Friday.

Arizona AFP

This is the last call to attend our Liberty Celebration, this Friday, December 9, to celebrate your legislative and policy victories for 2016. We would love for you to join us.

RSVP as soon as possible for our Liberty Celebration as seats are limited!

Where:  Christ Church Lutheran, Arizona Room
3901 E Indian School Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85018

When: 6:00pm to 8:00pm

Why: Americans for Prosperity Arizona will be honoring our top activists-America’s freedom fighters and our friends! We will also honor legislators and local government officials with the designation of Friend of the Taxpayer of higher on our annual scorecards (Legislative Scorecard and Local Government Scorecard).

Dinner and drinks will be provided.

AFP across the United States contacted 30 million Americans at the phone and the door – that’s 10% of the entire country! All told, AFP advocated against Senate candidates in eight states. All but one of those candidates were defeated. That’s something to celebrate! We will giving each of our top winners a prized jackalope.*

Please RSVP and come celebrate YOUR efforts for promoting liberty and prosperity for all Arizonans!

For Liberty & Prosperity,

Tom Jenney
Arizona Director
Americans for Prosperity Arizona

*Think that jackalopes do not exist? Well, that’s how a lot of taxpayers feel when we tell them that there are pro-taxpayer elected officials and local activists. But they really do exist! And we plan to honor them on Friday, December 9th. Please join us!

That wailing and moaning you’re about to hear

 

AFP

Dear Arizona Taxpayer:

The wailing and moaning you’re about to hear on your television and see in your newspaper is the sound of Arizona’s spending lobbies after they read the executive budget released today by Arizona’s new Governor, Doug Ducey.

TAKE ACTION TO SUPPORT GOV. DUCEY’S BUDGET

Supporters of Big Government will HATE this budget:

●  The school district bureaucrats who steal money from the students and teachers in our classrooms will loathe the fact that Gov. Ducey’s budget reduces administrative bureaucracy by $113 million (with no cuts to actual classroom spending).

●  The corporate crony capitalists will wail about the $100 million slush fund Gov. Ducey wants to take away from the Arizona Commerce Authority.

●  The educrats who waste taxpayer money and student tuition dollars at our community colleges and universities will scream about the $84 million in reductions to their budgets.

They and their hundreds of lobbyists are going to fight hard to try to stop these cuts.  We need Arizona’s taxpayers, producers and consumers to STAND UP NOW and support Gov. Ducey’s budget reforms.

Ducey’s budget has more than $660 million in spending reductions for the fiscal year starting July 1 ($360 million is permanent and $304 million is temporary).  The permanent reductions will increase to nearly $450 million in the following fiscal year, when – for the first time since the go-go days of the real estate boom – the state budget will actually be structurally balanced.  WITH NO TAX INCREASES.

For real.

We’re not kidding.

We have always had a core of real fiscal conservatives at the Arizona Legislature who believed in balanced budgets and wanted to protect Arizona’s taxpayers, producers and consumers.  But for the first time in recent memory, an Arizona governor is actually taking the leadership role of holding the line against the growth of Big Government.

The executive budgets of Governors Napolitano and Brewer had absurdly high revenue predictions and dangerously high spending proposals that had to be cut down by the real leaders in the Legislature.  But it’s a new day in Arizona!  (For you budget wonks out there, Gov. Ducey’s $9.1 billion budget is well under the prudent budget limit of population-plus-inflation.)

Thank you for TAKING ACTION TODAY to fight Big Government in Arizona!

Also, if you want to send a personal thank-you note to Governor Ducey, you can find his contact page HERE.

For Liberty & Prosperity, Tom

Tom Jenney
Arizona State Director
Americans for Prosperity

Tom Jenney: Be sure to look at your early ballot

AFP Arizona

Dear Arizona Taxpayer,

With mail-in ballots sitting on kitchen tables across the state, AFP-Arizona wants to make sure that citizens are informed on some of the ballot propositions that will be decided between now and November 4.  
 
IMPORTANT:  It is best to get your ballot in the mail by Thursday, October 30.  You can also drop it off at any polling place in your county of residence between 6:00 am and 7:00 pm on Tuesday, November 4
 
Below are quick summaries of AFP-Arizona’s positions on several ballot propositions.  You can read more in-depth analysis at AFP-Arizona’s website.
  • YES on Arizona Proposition 122: Rejection of Unconstitutional Federal Actions  —  Prop 122 will provide Arizonans with a way to protect themselves from overreaching and harmful federal policies.  AFP-Arizona strongly endorses Prop 122.  
  • YES on Arizona Proposition 303: Use of Investigational Drugs, Biomedical Products and Devices — Prop 303 would allow terminally ill patients in Arizona to procure experimental drugs that have not completed the full FDA trial process (but have been deemed safe by FDA).  AFP-Arizona strongly encourages citizens to vote YES on Prop 303 to protect the health and safety of terminally ill patients and strike a blow for the freedom of individuals to make their own health care decisions.
  • NO on Maricopa County Proposition 480 – Prop 480 would spend $935 million to fund new and updated facilities for the Maricopa Integrated Health Systems.  If passed, the proposition would result in a significant property tax increase, especially on small businesses.  A typical small business with $1 million in assessed valuation will end up paying $7,800 for this bond measure.  Maricopa County taxpayers already greatly subsidize health care for the less fortunate, and there are already sufficient health care options, including vast private hospital systems, available to Maricopa County residents.  Prop 480 has little accountability for how the money is used, and it would subsidize government health facilities in unfair competition with private health care enterprises.
  • NO on Pima County Proposition 415 — Prop 415 would issue $22 million in bonds for the expansion and renovation of the Pima Animal Care Facility.  Pima County taxpayers are already being subjected to a property tax levy increase of $45 million, or approximately $50 on a typical house, and the Animal Care Center has already received a $1 million increase in its operating budget for expanded shelter operations, medical treatment, and spay/neuter programs.
  • YES on City of Phoenix Proposition 487 – Prop 487 would solve the City’s nearly $1.5 billion unfunded pension liability problem by moving new employees to a plan similar to the 401k plans that are common in the private sector.   Prop 487 would fix the City’s scandalous $190 million pension spiking problem by limiting the excess pension benefits given to current employees.
 
LEARN MORE!   Please go to www.aztaxpayers.org , print out the PDF version of our analysis, and give copies to your friends, neighbors and co-workers.  
 
Thank you for taking action
 
For Liberty & Prosperity, Tom
 
Tom Jenney
Arizona Director
Americans for Prosperity 

Americans for Prosperity Foundation Releases 2014 Local Government Scorecard

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AFPF-Arizona’s Local Government Scorecard for the 2014 fiscal year (its 7th annual local scorecard) covers 106 Arizona cities, counties and special-purpose taxing districts, and 670 local officials.  The Scorecard grades local officials on overall budgets, property tax levies and sales tax changes, and includes yearly scores for current officials going back to the 2008 fiscal year, as well as cumulative averages.  AFPF-Arizona’s Local Government Scorecard for the 2013 fiscal year comes out at a time when many local governments in Arizona are finalizing tax and budget plans for the 2014 fiscal year.

For the Local Government Scorecard with cumulative scores for FYs 2008-2013, click HERE.

For FY 2014 sub-scores on budgets, property tax levies and sales tax changes, click HERE.

(For local officials who left office after 2012, see our FY 2013 Scorecard, which has cumulative scores going back to FY 2008.)

Later this year, AFPF-Arizona will present its 2014 John W. Dawson Local Hero Award to the Arizona local official who has made the greatest impact in defending taxpayers.

AFPF-Arizona encourages local officials to make sure that budgets and tax levies do not grow faster than the private economy on which they depend.  AFPF-Arizona’s slow-growth year scoring rubric for the 2014 fiscal year allowed local governments to raise their total approved budgets and their total property tax levies by five percent without earning negative points.  Given the continued sluggishness of the economy, and given the difficulties faced by families and businesses in the private sector, AFPF-Arizona believes the Scorecard’s allowances were generous.

AFPF-Arizona relies on the final approved budgets and levies reported in Schedules A and B —the state-required documents that are included as appendices in most local government budgets.   Unfortunately, in 2013, a dozen municipalities failed to post those schedules online, despite the fact that they are required to do so under A.R.S. 42-17103, and despite an offer by the League of Arizona Cities and Towns to post the documents on its website.  AFPF-Arizona will update past and present scorecards to incorporate missing data, if city officials will send us links to Schedules A and B and to the council minutes for the meetings in which those budgets and levies received final approval.

AFPF-Arizona regrets that its Local Government Scorecard (which as far as we know is the only one of its kind in the country) can only grade changes to aggregate budgets, and cannot go into line-item detail within budgets.  Taxpayers should be advised that a high score for a local government body does not entail AFPF-Arizona’s endorsement of every line item in that government’s budget for the fiscal year.  Even in the best-run local governments (as measured by annual changes to overall budgets), vigilant taxpayers are still likely to find boondoggles and wasteful programs that should be reduced or eliminated.

For the full spreadsheet, which includes links to budget documents and meeting minutes, as well as email contacts for local officials, email AFPF-Arizona at tjenney@afphq.org.

AFPF-Arizona thanks research associate Caleb Rhodes for his help in completing this year’s Scorecard.

Arizona Americans for Prosperity Foundation launches new website to help drive down hospital prices

The Arizona Chapter of Americans for Prosperity Foundation released the following message 

AFPFAZ_FB

Thanks to AZHealthPrices.com, a new website launched today by the Arizona chapter of Americans for Prosperity Foundation, health care consumers in the Grand Canyon State can now shop around for lower health care prices and help to drive down those prices!

Ever left a hospital, and found yourself stuck with an outrageously expensive bill?

Now, you can do something about it.

Last year, activists from our sister organization, AFP-Arizona, helped to pass a Direct Pay Price health care transparency reform bill in the Arizona Legislature. Now, with the Direct Pay Price law in effect, you can prepare yourself in advance, and keep yourself from getting gouged by hidden prices. This will be especially important now, as ObamaCare goes into effect and raises health plan deductibles and increases out-of-pocket costs for Arizona families. With that increased exposure, you may find yourself having to pay cash directly for hospital services — so you need to start shopping now!

Thanks to Arizona’s Direct Pay Price reform, large medical facilities (over 50 beds) must provide cash prices for the 50 most common medical procedures. Facilities with fewer than 50 beds must provide cash prices for the 35 most common medical procedures.

To see price lists from hospitals that have complied with the law, CLICK HERE.

Or, you can TAKE ACTION NOW to contact non-compliant hospitals to urge them to publish their direct pay prices on the web – as is now REQUIRED BY LAW.

Of course, price is never the only factor when it comes to making health care decisions. But if your doctor tells you that the three hospitals nearest you are equal in quality, why not go to the most cost-effective one?

And please help your neighbors, too! When you get a price list from a local hospital, please CLICK HERE to upload price information directly to the AZHealthPrices.com website. Or, send us the hospital price lists and/or hospital web pages to me at tjenney[at]afphq.org

Check the new website as we continue to update prices. And thank you for doing your part in generating competition to drive down hospital prices!

For Liberty,

Tom Jenney
Arizona Director
Americans for Prosperity Foundation

Americans for Prosperity: Congress and the President are shortening the fuse

By Christine Harbin Hanson and Tom Jenney

Imagine paying an extra $15,000 a year in taxes. For 50 working years.

That is the burden Washington is placing on our children and grandchildren.

America’s unfunded government liabilities over the next 75 years are between $100 trillion and $200 trillion, depending on how you crunch the numbers. Those are the spending promises our politicians have made through Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. and other federal programs, including “Obamacare.”

According to realistic estimates by the Congressional Budget ­Office, the unfunded liabilities in Medicare alone are $89 trillion.

Let’s take a midway total liability estimate of $150 trillion. If we divide by the 90 million children in this country who are under the age of 18 (and who did not vote for the politicians who made the spending promises), it comes to more than $1.5 million per child over their lifetimes — above and beyond what they are currently scheduled to pay in taxes.

Over a 50-year working lifetime, that’s $30,000 a year. Lucky for them, financial markets will put some of that burden on those of us who are currently working adults. But if they absorb half of the burden, that would be an average of $15,000 a year in extra taxes per child or grandchild.

Of course, any attempt to actually collect that much extra revenue from American workers or their employers would create massive, long-term structural unemployment and destroy economic growth by causing even more capital and jobs to move overseas.

Unfortunately, Congress and the president are doing nothing to defuse America’s gigantic bankruptcy bomb; instead, they are shortening the fuse.

These past few months were a critical time for conservative members of Congress to stand firm behind their promises to get runaway government spending under control. Congress considered two of the biggest spending bills of the year, the Ryan-Murray budget deal and the farm bill ­conference report.

The first disappointing vote was on the budget resolution in October. Crafted by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate Budget Chairman Patty Murray, the deal boosted discretionary spending to a whopping $1 trillion a year for each of the next two years. Worse, the plan shattered previously agreed-upon spending caps for fiscal year 2014 by $45 billion — an alarming increase and a broken promise.

The deal also further nickel-and-dimed American families by hiking airline ticket taxes and making changes to military pensions.

Most alarming is the fact that the Ryan-Murray deal traded higher spending now in exchange for the promise of $28 billion in cuts in 2022 and 2023. American taxpayers deserve spending cuts now, not promises to cut spending in the future.

The second vote was the farm bill conference report in February. This legislation authorized $1 trillion in spending over the next decade. Passed under the false guise of helping small farmers, the bill expanded a number of corporate welfare programs such as crop insurance, massive taxpayer subsidies and revenue guarantees for politically connected farmers.

It also neglected to make any meaningful reforms to ballooning food-stamp spending, which has more than doubled since President Obama took office and is rife with abuse.

Americans for Prosperity urged legislators to vote against both bills, and we will include these votes in our next congressional scorecard.

We are grateful to report that a number of Arizona’s legislators stood up for American taxpayers and voted against both of these bloated bills. House members who voted the right way included Trent Franks, Paul Gosar, Matt Salmon and David Schweikert.

On the Senate side, Jeff Flake also voted correctly. AFP applauds these members for standing up against more government handouts and higher spending.

A number of Democratic legislators voted against the bills, but for much different reasons. Some Democrats overwhelmingly felt that the budget resolution and the farm bill conference report didn’t spend enough.

Worse, a disappointing number of Republican legislators cast a “yes” vote for both the Ryan-Murray budget deal and the farm bill conference report, signaling their support of higher federal spending. Remember: This is the party that claims to support controlling spending and limiting the size of government.

Meanwhile, the fuse continues to burn on America’s bankruptcy bomb.

Americans for Prosperity is committed to defusing that bomb and securing a bright fiscal future for our children and grandchildren.

Tom Jenney is director of Americans for Prosperity’s Arizona chapter. Christine Harbin Hanson is federal issues campaign manager for Americans for Prosperity. More information: www.americansforprosperity.org.

Arizona AFP Panel Discussion: The Educational Future of American Children

AZ_AFPF

Arizona parents, taxpayers and other concerned citizens are invited to an important event about the future of education policy in America. As part of National School Choice Week, the Arizona chapter of Americans for Prosperity Foundation is hosting an expert policy panel on Monday, January 28, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort, 7200 N. Scottsdale Road (just north of Indian Bend). (RSVP information below.)

We have some important ground to cover in this policy discussion, including these topics:

• Of the recent school choice programs that have passed—Education Savings Accounts in Arizona, vouchers in Indiana, parent triggers in California, etc., which are the most important for children?

• Can school choice programs take credit for recent successes in US education?

• What are the biggest challenges to school choice today?

• How can we ensure that school choice successes are not derailed by government intervention?

• How can we ensure that children in traditional district schools are not “left behind” by school choice reforms?

• What special efforts must be made to meetthe needs of students who live in poverty?

• What are the effects of high-stakes government tests on students and teachers?

Our expert panelists will answer these questions and identify the best paths forward to improve our children’s education:

Jason Bedrick, Visiting Scholar, Center for Educational Freedom, Cato Institute

Jonathan Butcher, Education Director, Goldwater Institute

Anthony Cody, Education Blogger, Teachers Lead and Education Week

Matthew Ladner, Senior Advisor, Foundation for Excellence in Education

To attend this event, RSVP to Bill Fathauer at 480-332-0477 or bfathauer@afphq.orgPlease tell Bill if you are bringing any guests, and please give him your name, email address and best phone contact. We look forward to seeing you on January 28!

For Liberty, Tom

Arizona Director
Americans for Prosperity Foundation

Victory! We Beat the Arizona Obamacare Exchange!

AFP Arizona

Dear Arizona Taxpayer:

The Arizona chapter of Americans for Prosperity is grateful to Governor Jan Brewer for rejecting the state-funded ObamaCare/PPACA Exchange and thereby protecting Arizona businesses, taxpayers and health care consumers.  As Governor Brewer noted in her news release on the topic, a state-funded Exchange would be very expensive for Arizona taxpayers, and the federal government “would maintain control over virtually every aspect of our Exchange.”

AFP-Arizona is also grateful to all of the Arizona Legislators who stood their ground against the state-funded Exchange in the face of intense lobbying pressure from corporate interests that had been bought off by ObamaCare’s system of government mandates and subsidies.  Further, AFP-Arizona is grateful to its donors for supporting usthrough this long fight, and we are grateful for the policy advice afforded to us by members of our coalition, including the Goldwater Institute and the Cato Institute.  Finally, and most importantly, AFP-Arizona is grateful to the thousands of grassroots activists in Arizona who took action against the Arizona Exchange by writing emails, making phone calls, and confronting elected officials at public meetings — more than anything else, their activism won this battle.

The fight to contain and control the wide-ranging damage of the ObamaCare legislation is far from over, and AFP-Arizona is now ready to fight ObamaCare’s hugely expensive (but optional!) Medicaid expansion here in Arizona.  But it’s important to take the time to celebrate our victories, so we will soon send out an invitation for an upcoming Victory Party for all of the activists and elected officials who fought the ObamaCare exchange.  At the party, we will also celebrate the decisive victory of Arizona taxpayers over the Prop 204 sales tax hike on the November 6 ballot.

And on the topic of Prop 204, AFP-Arizona wishes to express our deep gratitude to Governor Brewer for taking a firm stance against the permanent one-cent sales tax hike.  Governor Brewer promised Arizonans in 2010 that her intention was for the Prop 100 sales tax hike to be a temporary expedient, and she kept her promise.

For Liberty,

Tom Jenney
Arizona Director
Americans for Prosperity
www.aztaxpayers.org
tjenney@afphq.org