ACT NOW to stop the Prop 204 Tax Hike

AFP Arizona

URGENT Action Items Below

Dear Arizona Taxpayer,

AFP-Arizona Needs YOU to help us defeat Proposition 204!

While current polling shows that Arizona voters are prepared to reject the Prop 204 tax hike on Tuesday, we must keep the heat turned up in the last days before the election.

The facts on Proposition 204 are simple:  It makes the temporary sales tax increase PERMANENT, which would cost Arizona taxpayers an additional $1 billion per year and potentially cost the state 15,000 jobs.  Arizona families are already hurting in a bad economy, and this is worst time to raise taxes and harm economic growth. Prop 204 also provides an already bloated education bureaucracy — Arizona’s total education spending has increased over 60% in the last decade, even as a smaller percentage of funds has gone to the classroom — with even more money, while failing to provide real reform to Arizona’s education system.

PLEASE TAKE ACTION!

AFP-Arizona is asking you to do the following:[1]

• Take whatever NO on 204 yard signs you may have to your nearest polling location on Monday night (Nov 5).

• Take any extra NO on 204 yard signs you may have to key polling locations (use the email below to ask Bill where your closest key locations are).

• Hand out anti-204 literature at your nearest polling place on Tuesday (use the email below to ask Bill for a printable version of AFP-AZ’s anti-204 talking points).

•  Per Arizona law, no materials (yard signs, literature, etc.) may be distributed or placed within 75 feet of polling locations.

Please contact Bill Fathauer AS SOON AS POSSIBLE at 480-332-0477 orbfathauer@afphq.org to volunteer for these actions.  (If you contact Bill today, or over the weekend, you will help us reduce our workload on Monday and Tuesday.)  Even if you can only volunteer for an hour or two, your help will be vital in stopping a massive tax hike that will damage the Arizona economy.

Thank you and keep up the good fight!

For Liberty, Tom

Tom Jenney
Arizona Director
Americans for Prosperity
tjenney@afphq.org
(602) 478-0146



[1]AFP-Arizona is independently asking its activists to take these actions to oppose Proposition 204. AFP-Arizona is not a sponsor of the No on 204 campaign, nor is it acting in coordination with the No New Taxes, No on 204 ballot committee.

Arizona sales-tax hike gets shiv on shady iPad contest promoted on Facebook, Twitter

Below is the complaint letter submitted to Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett earlier this week by Tom Jenney of Americans for Prosperity Arizona challenging the legality of initiative petitions turned in by the “Quality Education & Jobs” campaign based on signatures gathered by ‘volunteers’ with the promise of winning an iPad — thereby calling into question any and all of these petitions not disclosing that they were collected by a paid circulator. In the grand scheme of things this complaint likely reveals a small violation that will probably not invalidate enough petitions to drop their signature tally below the number required to earn a spot on November’s ballot.  However, this pattern and practice also reveals another instance where the troubled “Quality Education & Jobs” campaign has played fast-and-loose with the rules regarding gathering signatures… all in service to “The Children”… and government unions and brazen special interests who stand to reap hundreds of millions in government contracts. No wonder it has been thrown off the ballot. Let’s hope an activist judge doesn’t disregard the black-letter of the law and force this massive tax increase onto November’s ballot.  

BONUS: Click here to listen to the initial reaction from top “Quality Education & Jobs” campaign officials (Chairwoman Ann-Eve Petersen, Associated General Contractors honcho David Martin, consultant Joe Yuhas and others) upon learning their campaign’s 290,000 petition signatures are invalid.

June 25, 2012

The Honorable Ken Bennett
Arizona Secretary of State
1700 West Washington Street
Phoenix, Arizona 85007-2888

Dear Secretary Bennett,

On behalf of the 70,000 taxpayers in this state who are members of our organization, the Arizona chapter of Americans for Prosperity wishes to bring to your prompt attention an important matter regarding the potential failure by one or more ballot initiative organizers to fully and properly disclose their use of paid signature petition circulators. 

I-16-2012 has filed for inclusion on the November ballot and signature petitions have been circulated by its initiative supporters for qualification.  This initiative, commonly referred to as “Quality Education and Jobs,” has already submitted petitions to your office for certification.

Based upon the enclosed information, we believe that circulators have been compensated and incentivized with the promise of future compensation for collecting a specific number of signatures on behalf of the initiative.  We believe that repeated solicitations over Facebook and Twitter accounts maintained by initiative organizers, as well as at least one email sent by organizers or on their behalf, clearly demonstrate that the collection of fifteen (15) petition signatures were directly exchanged for “a brand new iPad 3” by at least two individuals.

A.R.S. § 19-118 defines a paid circulator as “…a person who receives monetary or other compensation that is based on the number of signatures obtained on a petition or on the number of petitions circulated that contain signatures.”  Those who satisfy the criteria of paid circulators are required to disclose their paid circulator status by noting the same on the petition.     

Organizers of I-16-2012 have apparently twice awarded an iPad 3, valued at $499, to certain individuals on or about May 11 and June 1.  Although the solicitations characterize the circulators as “volunteers,” the nature of those awards qualifies them as paid circulators by law.

We therefore request that your office immediately investigate this matter to determine whether the actions of the “Quality Education and Jobs” initiative organizers constitute a violation of A.R.S. § 19-118 and to take any and all necessary action. 

Furthermore, please accept this letter as a formal complaint with regard to the possibility that the “Quality Education and Jobs” initiative organizers may have circulated petitions using ballot language that differed from the official initiative language.  Given the discrepancies uncovered by the Arizona Tax Research Association (please refer to the attached article from the June 22, 2012 issue of the Arizona Capitol Times), we believe that the organizers of the “Quality Education and Jobs” initiative acted in violation of A.R.S. § 19-112, which requires that petition signature sheets be attached “at all times during circulation to a full and correct copy of the title and text of the measure or constitutional amendment proposed or referred by the petition.”

Thank you very much for your consideration of these matters, and for taking the time and effort to provide written responses to these complaints.

For Liberty,

Tom Jenney
Arizona Director
Americans for Prosperity

NW Valley Pachyderm Coalition Meeting: Tom Jenney Speaking

 

Pachyderm Coalition Logo

Americans for Prosperity

A political party cannot be all things to all people. It must represent certain fundamental beliefs, which must not be compromised to political expediency or simply to swell its numbers…. And if there are those who cannot subscribe to these conservative principles, then let them go their own way.
  – Ronald Reagan March 1, 1975
N.W. PAChyderm Coalition
February Meeting
Glendale, ArizonaFebruary 15, 2011
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Dillons BBQ

Tom JennyJoin Tom Jenney, President of Americans For Prosperity, for our first political meeting of Arizona’s second century and hear about:

America’s Ticking Bankruptcy Bomb

 

America’s impending bankruptcy is the Biggest Fiscal Issue Facing Our Country.  If America does not get a grip on its finances soon, our children and grandchildren will have to pay over $150 trillion in additional taxes over the next 75 years just to balance the nation’s books.  On average, that’s over $30,000 a year in extra taxes for 50 working years for every child in the US currently under the age of 18.  If America does not get government spending under control, those economy-crushing taxes will have to be paid one way or another: either through actual tax levies or through massive currency devaluations and debt defaults of the kind that plague Third World nations.

 

Wednesday February 15, 2012

The Patriot Room

At Dillon’s Arrowhead

20585 N 59th Ave, Glendale

(easy access just north of the Loop 101, east side of 59th Ave.)

 

Dinner Meeting at 6:15 pm

Dinner – your choice of order off the menu

Seating is limited

 

E-Mail Diane Douglas at  azpatsfan@cox.net for your reservation or additional information.  First come, first serve. You will not receive a reply unless the event is full.If you have already sent an RSVP there is no need to do so again. Thank you!

 

www.pachydermcoalition.com

 

 

 

A state with prosperity, lower taxes is possible

If we could start from scratch and redesign Arizona’s state-government programs in the interest of efficiency, effectiveness and fairness, they would look very different than they do now.

Ideally, state government would provide genuine public goods (in the strictest sense of the economic term “public good”) and provide a social safety net, with minimal harm to taxpayers and minimal drag on economic growth.

Government support for K-12 and college education (which now take up over half of the state budget) would be voucherized, with money going directly to families to empower them to shop among competing private and non-profit schools.

The vouchers would be means-tested so that low-income families received bigger vouchers, with a formula for extra subsidies for children diagnosed as having special needs.

If K-12 vouchers were deposited into tax-exempt education-savings accounts, families would have a strong incentive to bargain for lower tuition and to save and invest excess funds for future education, health and retirement purposes.

AHCCCS/Medicaid, which currently takes up a quarter of the state budget, needs radical reform. By correcting flaws in the federal tax code, we could encourage the vast majority of citizens to buy portable health-insurance coverage through tax-exempt health-savings accounts, with means-tested government support for the poor (including block-granted federal dollars).

For people who are too sick to be easily insurable in low-premium, high-deductible HSA plans, the government could maintain high-risk pools in coordination with private charities.

Along the same lines, unemployment insurance would be based on contributions to private, individual accounts so that individuals saved their own money when they were working and spent their own money when they lost their jobs, thus creating strong incentives to quickly find new jobs.

Many state highways and roads (which often involve public-good holdout problems) could be made self-funding through long-term private concessions to finance, build, maintain and operate new roads and new highway lane-mile capacity.

With the above reforms, Arizona’s general-fund budget would be $9 billion a year. Ideally, that would be funded with a broad-based retail sales-tax rate of less than 4 percent — no personal or corporate income taxes, and no local education property taxes (which currently take up at least half of people’s property-tax bills).

As long as we’re talking about the ideal world, let’s go further and assume that the federal government was limited to its proper functions under Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution.

With a federal government one-fifth of its current size and funded by a 5 percent national retail-sales tax (eliminating federal income, capital gains, dividend and death taxes), Arizona taxpayers could readily afford to replace and reform many of the federal entitlement programs.

By paying for those functions with an additional statewide sales tax of 5 percent, we could limit the total combined federal, state and local sales-tax rate to about 15 percent.

With a total tax burden about 15 percent of GDP, Arizonans would have the most efficient, most pro-growth tax system in the developed world, resulting in real annual per capita economic growth around 3 percent.

At that rate, Arizonans would double their real wealth every 25 years.

The tough question is not whether this would be good for Arizona.

The tough political question is how we get there from here.

Tom Jenney is Arizona director of Americans for Prosperity, which seeks to educate citizens about economic policy.

Will Arizona Legislators Vote to Discourage Job-Seekers?

ACTION ALERT

June 9, 2011

Dear Arizona Taxpayer:

Governor Jan Brewer announced yesterday that she is calling the Arizona Legislature into special session this Friday (June 10) to extend unemployment insurance (UI) benefits for 15,000 people from 79 weeks to 99 weeks.

At this point, it appears that Gov. Brewer and legislative leaders have not actually lined up the 20 Senate votes and the 40 House votes necessary to extend the benefits for the extra 20 weeks. The big hurdle for Brewer is that the Legislature actually contains a lot of conservatives, and conservative Legislators have two main problems with Brewer’s proposal to extend UI benefits:

  1. Many studies show that extended UI benefits discourage recipients from seeking jobs, thus keeping unemployment higher than it would be otherwise. Learn more at this link: http://tinyurl.com/heritageui
  2. Conservative Legislators feel that Gov. Brewer burned them during the spring session with multiple vetoes of conservative bills. More about that below…

ACTION ITEM: Please contact all three of your state Legislators today and ask them to vote against the extension of unemployment insurance benefits. You can use these links to find your Legislators:

http://www.azleg.gov/alisStaticPages/HowToContactMember.asp

Burned by Brewer

As you are aware, Arizona has one of the most fiscally conservative Legislatures in its history, and in the country. The GOP majority in the Legislature was successful in passing many major free-market reforms. Unfortunately, Gov. Brewer vetoed several of the most consequential conservative bills, and some reforms were not untaken at all due to threatened vetoes. If Legislators are going to cave in and give subsidies to people to keep them from looking for jobs, they should bargain hard and demand that Brewer sign one or more of the following vetoed reforms:

  • HB 2707 was a statutory state spending/revenue limit based on population-plus-inflation, so it’s clear that spending limit supporters in the Legislature do not owe Brewer any favors;
  • SB 1322 was the bill that would have brought privatization (managed competition) and transparent bidding to city services in Phoenix and Tucson, so it’s clear that privatization supporters in the Legislature do not owe Brewer any favors;
  • HB 2338 would have imposed modest limitations on property tax levies by secondary taxing districts, so property tax reformers in the Legislature do not owe Brewer any favors;
  • HB 2581 and SB 1186 were two vetoed bills that would have enacted modest expansions of Arizona’s existing school choice tax credit, so school choice advocates in the Legislature do not owe Brewer any favors;
  • HB 1593 was a bill that would have allowed Arizona health insurance consumers to purchase health plans available in other States and would have posed a key challenge to ObamaCare, by starting to create a nationwide private marketplace for individual/family health insurance plans—so it’s unclear why opponents of ObamaCare would owe Brewer any favors;
  • SB 1552 would have provided tax relief for Arizona corporations by adjusting the corporate tax sales factor—so, other than the handful of crony capitalists who will get handouts from the new Commerce Authority slush fund, it is clear that business owners and pro-business Legislators do not owe Brewer any favors;
  • SB 1592 and SB 1088, both vetoed, would have created interstate compact bills for Arizona and other States to challenge ObamaCare—again, it’s unclear why opponents of ObamaCare would owe Brewer any favors; and finally,
  • real short-term pro-growth tax cuts were not included in the “Jobs” bill due to Gov. Brewer’s veto threats, so tax-cutters do not owe Brewer any favors.

Also, the $87 million in total extended benefits will not do much to stimulate our local economy: $87 million is less than one-tenth of one percent of the Arizona economy.

Please send a note to your Legislators as soon as possible. And thank you for taking action!

For Liberty, Tom

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

 

 

Will Gov. Brewer Veto (More) Conservative Bills?

ACTION ALERT / LEGISLATIVE REPORT

25 April 2011

Dear Arizona Taxpayer,

AFP-Arizona’s 2011 Legislative Scorecard (the 27th annual scorecard put out by AFP-Arizona and the Arizona Federation of Taxpayers) will not be published until this summer, and will end up scoring hundreds of tax, budget, and regulatory bills. But with the close of the 2011 legislative session on Wednesday, we are issuing a preliminary report on how Governor Jan Brewer and the Arizona Legislature performed, based upon the bills having the largest projected fiscal impact on Arizona taxpayers, consumers, and producers.

Action Item—Possible Brewer Vetoes

At this point, it is unclear how Governor Jan Brewer will perform on this year’s Scorecard. She will do poorly if she follows the bad advice of the Arizona Republic’s editorial board and vetoes the municipal managed competition reform (SB 1322), the interstate health insurance competition bill (SB 1593), and the statutory spending limit (HB 2707). Vetoes on those three bills would land her below 50 percent, in the category of “Friend of Big Government.” If she signs all three into law, she will score in the high 70-percent range (“Friend of the Taxpayer”).

Please call and email Governor Brewer TODAY and ask her to sign those three bills.

To send Gov. Brewer an email, use her web contact page: http://www.azgovernor.gov/Contact.asp

To contact Brewer’s policy staff, send emails to Page Gonzalez (pgonzalez@az.gov), Eileen Klein (eklein@az.gov), Michael Hunter (mhunter@az.gov), and Don Hughes (dhughes@az.gov).

The phone numbers for Gov. Brewer’s office are (602) 542-1361 and (602) 542-4331

For a one-page pdf flyer you can print out and take to your neighbors/precinct residents, use this link: http://static.taxcutsforall.com//files/sb1322brewer.pdf

For more information about the three bills, use the links on this page: http://www.americansforprosperity.org/042511-gov-jan-brewer-veto-alert

Arizona’s Legislative Majority Performs Well

Overall, the typical Republican Legislator did a very good job on fiscal policy during the 2011 legislative session—thanks in large part to strong pressure from taxpayer activists and tea partiers. Except for a handful of outliers, Arizona’s GOP Senators and Representatives voted in favor of the following pro-taxpayer measures:

  • Balanced budgets for FY 2011 and 2012 that include minimal gimmicks and that put the state on course to retire debt;
  • Spending limit bills that would place obstacles in the way of out-of-control spending by future Legislators and Governors;
  • The most comprehensive municipal services privatization bill in the country;
  • Limits on property tax levy increases in local-government secondary taxing districts;
  • Creation of school choice education savings accounts for children with learning disabilities;
  • Expansion of Arizona’s existing school choice tax credit program;
  • Legislation to allow interstate health insurance competition in the individual health market;
  • Reform of state employee pensions, which are currently trending toward bankruptcy; and,
  • Transparency bills requiring local governments and school districts to post their budgets in prominent places on their websites.

For Gov. Brewer and for the typical majority Legislator, the high base scores resulting from the votes enumerated above may be pushed slightly higher on the final Scorecard, given that AFP-Arizona has yet to grade hundreds of bills with low point totals. Legislators introduced dozens of good bills this session, and some of them made it to the Governor’s desk. (Of course, there were also many bad bills with low point totals, and we will likely discover some fiscal landmines among the dozens of bills that were passed quickly in the closing hours of the session).

Although typical majority members in both chambers will score highly on the Scorecard, it appears that the typical Senator will do somewhat better than the typical Representative. Given preliminary estimates, the typical Senator will score in the high 80-precent range (“Champion of the Taxpayer”), while the typical Representative will score in the high 70-percent range (“Friend of the Taxpayer”). Senators will likely score higher in large part for the following reasons:

  • The Senate version of the budget included heavier budget cuts;
  • The Senate’s spending limit referenda were constitutional, voter-approved measures (making them very difficult for politicians to override), whereas the House spending limit bill that went to the Governor’s desk would be statutory (and thus could be set aside by simple majorities in the House and Senate); and,
  • The constitutional Paycheck Protection referendum (SCR 1028) failed to move in the House, having been supplanted by a version of the reform (SB 1365) that included unprincipled (and voter-unfriendly) carve-outs and that failed to get the necessary forty “emergency” votes in the House to prevent the government-worker unions from taking the flawed version of the bill to the ballot.

More about the Legislative Scorecard:

Use the link below to study AFP-Arizona’s scoring rubric (page 3), and to view hypothetical scores for Governor Brewer, the typical majority Senator, and the typical majority Representative (pages 4-6). For policy summaries of AFP-Arizona’s key bills, see pages 7-11.

http://static.taxcutsforall.com//files/afp2011lpr04-20-11.pdf

The AFP-Arizona Legislative Scorecard weights fiscal policy and regulatory bills according to their projected dollar impact to Arizona taxpayers, consumers, and producers ($1 million equals one point). The AFP-Arizona Scorecard does not grade bills relating to constitutional, electoral, moral/social, or criminal-law matters, except insofar as those bills are projected to have a clear and significant financial impact on taxpayers, consumers, and producers.

To view AFP-Arizona’s 2010 Legislative Scorecard and Legislators’ cumulative averages since 2005, go to this URL (be advised that this cumulative scorecard does not include this year’s votes): http://static.taxcutsforall.com//files/azlsc2005-2010final.pdf

Please Remain Vigilant!

Grassroots taxpayer activists and tea party members can help us greatly in promoting free markets by reminding Governor Jan Brewer and Arizona’s Legislators that we will hold them strictly accountable in 2011 and 2012. We hope that the AFP-Arizona Legislative Scorecard proves to be a very helpful tool for activists in demanding fiscal accountability from their elected officials.

For Liberty, Tom

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

 

Grassroots leaders push to reform city government

March 8, 2011
          
Hon. Russell Pearce
President
Arizona Senate
1700 W. Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85007

Hon. Kirk Adams
Speaker
Arizona House of Representatives
1700 W. Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85007

Re:  Municipal managed competition reform (SB 1322)

Dear President Pearce and Speaker Adams:

We are writing to you and to the members of your chambers to ask for your support in passing Senate Bill 1322, the municipal managed competition reform. 

SB 1322 would require Arizona cities with populations of 500,000 or more to open up city services to competition from the private sector.  The bill has three main policy objectives:

• Create jobs.  By requiring an open and competitive bidding process, SB 1322 will allow private businesses, public-private partnerships, and city employees to compete to provide services to city residents at the lowest prices compatible with the highest quality and most reliable performance.  Competitive bidding will help to moderate the costs of all productive factors, including labor, thus allowing thousands of new workers to be hired.  (For example, in Fiscal Year 2010, the City of Phoenix paid its average worker a salary, benefit, and overhead package of $97,707.  That was up from $83,231 in FY 2007—a 17-percent increase in just three short years, at a time when private-sector workers were suffering pay cuts and layoffs.  Even if we take out police officers and firefighters—who would be exempt from SB 1322—competitive labor costs could allow the Phoenix economy to employ one and a half times the current number of city workers, at the average private-sector salary-and-benefit level.) 

• Save money for city governments and city taxpayers.  By saving money on maintenance and operations costs, SB 1322 would free up scarce budget resources at a time when cities are facing tough budget constraints.  The combined savings in Phoenix and Tucson could soon be over $500 million a year—savings that could be passed on to taxpayers through rollback and repeal of recent tax and fee hikes.     

• Create opportunities for small business.  SB 1322 will help to inject hundreds of millions of dollars a year into the local economies in Phoenix and Tucson.  By requiring those cities to bid out services costing above $75,000, SB 1322 would create opportunities for dozens of small businesses to win contracts to perform city services. 

SB 1322 gives city councils opportunities to disapprove statements of work presented to those councils by city managers, and allows city councils to award longer-term contracts to independent contractors and public-private contractors that provide significant capital investments to the cities. 

SB 1322 includes several key protections for taxpayers and several provisions designed to ensure that contractors serve as faithful stewards of public resources:

• Transparency in bidding and performance.  SB 1322 stipulates that all bid-related communications and supporting materials submitted for consideration by the affected cities shall be public records, and mandates that the city managers and all city departments of affected cities shall conduct annual performance audits for contracted services, the cost of which must be accounted for and incorporated into all bids.  SB 1322 requires city managers of affected cities to seek independent performance audits every five years to evaluate the accuracy and completeness of the municipalities’ performance audits, and stipulates that all performance audits shall be public records.

• Protection of city resources.  SB 1322 requires that all bidders, public or private, must be able to provide bonding or other forms of security to adequately protect cities, and requires that all bidders maintain an adequate level of liability insurance consistent with the city risk management requirements.

• Public safety provisions.  SB 1322 requires that independent contractors have appropriate safety policies and procedures in place to protect the public and its employees, and requires that independent contractors perform background checks on employees performing any service for which the affected cities require background checks of municipal employees.

• Breach-of-contract protections.  SB 1322 mandates that independent contractors acknowledge that the affected cities may rightfully terminate and rescind contracts awarded to independent contractors in the event of material breaches of those contracts.

• Term limits for service contracts.  SB 1322 provides that service contracts may not have terms longer than five years, with three one-year renewals, before the related services must be submitted again to open and competitive bidding.

• Term limits for capitalization projects.  To address policy concerns voiced in committee, the proposed floor amendment to SB 1322 allows for longer terms to be awarded for contracts with independent contractors or public-private partnerships that involve significant capital investments.  But the proposed amendment also limits the terms of those contracts to the length of the amortization schedules prevailing in those industries.

Given the wide latitude allowed to city councils and city managers in designing service contracts, SB 1322 includes a taxpayer standing clause that allows taxpayers residing in the affected cities to bring special actions in court to enforce the protections afforded in the legislation.

Once the success of this managed competition reform has been demonstrated in Phoenix and Tucson, it is our firm hope that future Legislatures will expand the reform to include all of the municipalities and counties in Arizona, thus providing its protections to all Arizona taxpayers. 

Upon request, we will provide you with a copy of the draft floor amendment which incorporates changes suggested during the Senate committee hearings and changes suggested by stakeholders. 

Signed,

Sal DiCiccio     
Phoenix City Council     

Tom Jenney    
Americans for Prosperity – Arizona    

Lee Earle
Arizona 2012 Project

Steve Voeller    
Arizona Free Enterprise Club   

Vera Anderson   
Daisy Mountain Tea Party Patriots

Michael Davis
Deer Valley Tea Party

Farrell Quinlan       
National Federation of Independent Business – Arizona     

Wesley Harris
North Phoenix Tea Party

Honey Marques   
Tea Party Patriots of Scottsdale  

Marcus Huey    
Tea Party Patriots of Glendale

Shawnna L.M. Bolick
Grassroots Organizer

Arizona Legislature Must Act to Protect Employee Paychecks from Political Abuse

The Arizona Senate is ready for floor debate on a ballot referral critically important to gaining lasting control over our state and local budgets — SCR 1028 on Paycheck Protection.  The below letter was delivered Wednesday to all Republican lawmakers.

 

Coalition to Protect
Employee Paychecks from Politics

February 23, 2011

The Honorable Russell Pearce
President of the Arizona Senate
1700 West Washington Street
Phoenix, Arizona 85007

The Honorable Kirk Adams
Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives
1700 West Washington Street
Phoenix, Arizona 85007

RE: SCR 1028 & HCR 2032 on Paycheck Protection

Dear President Pearce and Speaker Adams:

The on-going protests in Madison, Wisconsin should sound the alarm here in Arizona regarding the danger of indulging special interests to the point where they threaten to close down state government and disrupt our political processes.  As representatives of conservative, grassroots and small business organizations, we urge you to take proactive steps to ensure that Arizona never becomes as beholden to these special interests as the Badger State has.

Therefore, we request that you use your considerable influence and institutional powers to give Arizonans the opportunity to vote to enshrine in the Arizona Constitution their fundamental right to protect employee paychecks from politics.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 1028, introduced by Senator Frank Antenori and 43 co-sponsors, and House Concurrent Resolution 2032, introduced by Representative Judy Burges and 44 co-sponsors, state: 

An employee in this state shall be free from any employer deducting or facilitating the deduction of a payment from an employee’s paycheck for political purposes, unless the employee annually provides express written permission to make the deduction.

The language is fair, reasonable and straight-forward—precisely the qualities of a constitutional amendment that the Arizona electorate rewards with their votes.  This referral does not discriminate between political money deducted by labor unions or corporate political action committees.  Both are treated equally.  Moreover, this construction places the focus where it belongs, on the fundamental rights of all workers to control their paychecks.

A 2010 poll of 400 likely Arizona voters found 76 percent favor such an amendment and 20 percent oppose.  The poll also found that 64 percent were “definitely yes” while only 14 percent were “definitely no” voters.

The time is now to seize the initiative and provide voters this opportunity to affirm their rights through a constitutional amendment.  We urge you to schedule a floor vote on a paycheck protection ballot question during the 2011 Regular Session so the conservative, grassroots and small business supporters of paycheck protection can use the full year-and-a-half between now and Election Day 2012 to organize, educate and raise the funds necessary to secure victory.

It is imperative that you help the conservative, grassroots and small business base by giving us enough time to wage an aggressive and well-financed effort.  The 2010 election cycle is illustrative of why we feel passing a referral in 2011 is essential to our ultimate success.  Propositions 106 (Healthcare Freedom), 107 (Civil Rights) and 113 (Save Our Secret Ballot) were all launched by referrals in 2009 and all won by comfortable margins.  Conversely, every constitutional amendment referred in 2010 failed, some by very narrow margins.

Constitutional Amendment   Constitutional Amendment
Campaigns Begun in 2009   Campaigns Begun in 2010
       
Prop. 106: Healthcare Freedom Prop. 109: Hunting & Fishing
Yes 892,693 55.28%   Yes 714,144 43.52%
No 722,300 44.72%   No 926,991 56.48%
  1,614,993       1,641,135  
             
        Prop. 110: State Trust Lands
Prop. 107: Civil Rights   Yes 792,394 49.71%
Yes 952,086 59.51%   No 801,670 50.29%
No 647,713 40.49%     1,594,064  
  1,599,799          
        Prop. 111: Lt. Governor
        Yes 655,252 40.77%
Prop. 113: Save Our Secret Ballot No 951,820 59.23%
Yes 978,109 60.46%     1,607,072  
No 639,692 39.54%        
  1,617,801     Prop. 112: Initiative Timeline
        Yes 792,697 50.00%
        No 792,825 50.00%
          1,585,522  

 

We know legislative leadership has traditionally held that ballot propositions are best referred in the year of the election.  However, as the protests in Madison, Wisconsin illustrate, the likely forces opposed to paycheck protection can and will always bring maximum resources to fight for their big government agenda regardless of notice.  Regrettably, the forces supporting a smaller government and individual responsibility are the ones that need time to organize and mobilize. 

We cannot afford to wait until less than six months before the election to decide to rise to this challenge.  Please give us the best chance to support and pass this crucial constitutional amendment that will serve as a foundation to regaining and maintaining Arizona’s fiscal health.

Please schedule floor votes on SCR 1028 and/or HCR 2032 during this session of the Arizona Legislature.

Thank you for considering our views. We would welcome the opportunity at your earliest convenience to discuss the merits of referring this measure to the ballot this year.

Sincerely:

Farrell Quinlan
Arizona State Director
National Federation of Independent Business
3550 North Central Avenue, Suite 1806
Phoenix, Arizona  85012

Tom Jenney
Arizona Director
Americans for Prosperity
One East Camelback Road, Suite 550
Phoenix, Arizona  85012

Roy Miller
Chairman
Arizona Employee Protection Committee
8912 East Pinnacle Peak Road, Suite F9-235
Scottsdale, Arizona  85255

Sydney Hay
President of AMIGOS
Arizona Mining Industry Gets Our Support
Post Office Box 25187
Phoenix, Arizona  85002-5187

cc:  All Members of the Republican Majority in the Arizona House of Representatives
       All Members of the Republican Majority in the Arizona Senate

Op Ed: More than ever, AZ government needs a spending limit

More than ever, AZ government needs a spending limit
By Tom Jenney

The Legislature and Governor have passed a budget for Fiscal Year 2009, but Arizona’s budget crisis is far from over.

Thanks to heavy borrowing, fund transfers, and accounting gimmicks, the state government in January will have a total deficit of over $1.5 billion.

The obvious question is, What Next? 

The answer depends on your political orientation. Big Spenders, Muddled Middlers, and Fiscal Conservatives see the FY 2009 budget in very different ways, and will come to very different conclusions about what to do next.

For the Big Spenders in both parties, who wish to expand the size and influence of government, the FY 2009 budget is a major victory. It actually increases spending commitments by over $700 million–during a recession, and in a supposedly conservative state. State government spending now takes up 7.01 percent of the state’s economy—the biggest portion since 1980—and is set to get even bigger.    

For Big Spenders, the recipe for the future calls for more of the same: use every expedient to keep spending high, while blaming the deficit on the 2006 tax cuts and suggesting that Arizona’s tax system is “broken.”

The Big Spenders are pushing the state toward a constitutional crisis in which the Arizona Supreme Court must choose between Prop 108, the rule that mandates a two-thirds legislative majority for tax increases, and Props 301 and 204, which mandate large automatic spending increases for government schools and government-subsidized health care. With Prop 108 safely out of the way, the Big Spenders will raise taxes and increase per-capita government spending to the economy-strangling levels of California, Michigan, or New Jersey.

For members of the Muddled Middle, the FY 2009 budget process was very difficult. Middlers wanted to shield families and businesses from tax increases, but they also wanted to increase government “services,” in an attempt to satisfy constituents and spending interests. 

In response to the budget crisis, the Middlers will listen earnestly to those who say our tax system is broken, and to lobbyists peddling “stimulus” and “job creation” plans, searching for a nonexistent free lunch that combines low taxes with high spending.

More productively, the Middlers may focus on the problem of voter-mandated spending increases. Middlers probably do not have the stomach to send 301 and 204 back to the voters for revision, but they may support a reform such as the Majority Rules ballot initiative, which would make it more difficult for spending interests to enact new voter-approved spending mandates. 

For Fiscal Conservatives, the FY 2009 budget is the worst state budget in memory, and comes on the heels of four very bad budgets (FY 2005-2008), in which spending increases greatly outpaced the growth rate of the state’s private economy. Fiscal Conservatives understand that the FY 2009 budget will continue to push government spending to unsustainably high levels, paving the way for future budget crises, the end of Prop 108, and massive tax increases.

Looking forward, Fiscal Conservatives recognize that the Big Spenders and Muddled Middlers who currently dominate state government are not likely to limit their spending voluntarily. Since 2003, Fiscal Conservatives have issued repeated warnings that state spending was growing at unsustainable rates. Their warnings were deliberately ignored by the Big Spenders, and unheeded by the Middlers.

Fiscal Conservatives also put forth several proposals to implement spending limits, including one called the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), which would have limited state spending to the rate of growth of Arizona’s population, plus inflation. [See Graph]

If TABOR had been adopted in 2004, after the state’s last major budget crisis, Arizona would have had a small surplus for FY 2009, instead of a $2.2 billion deficit. The government also would have refunded over $4.5 billion to taxpayers—a boon to the state economy.

TABOR and other spending limit proposals went nowhere during the last five years. But spending limit ideas are not dead. For Fiscal Conservatives, who wish to restrain spending, avoid budget crises, stop massive tax increases, and preserve economic prosperity, a strong spending limit is the only way forward. 

Tom Jenney is Arizona Director for Americans for Prosperity (www.aztaxpayers.org).