Rep. Anthony Kern on Arizona Propositions

As Arizona leaves the summer heat behind, we are headed into the heat of the 2020 election.

And while the presidential and U.S. senatorial races garner the limelight, state voters have a say on two very important topics – legalizing marijuana and raising income taxes on tens of thousands of taxpayers.

Rep. Anthony Kern
(photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Proposition 207 would legalize marijuana for recreational use, just four years after voters rejected a similar proposal. While Arizona has a robust medical marijuana law allowing people with specific ailments or diseases to use the drug, removing safeguards so that all adults have access to marijuana will hurt our society and lead to far greater ills. 

Allowing greater access to marijuana will increase vehicle crashes and lead to unsafe working environments. We need only look to our neighbor to the north, where car crashes increased by 10 percent following the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, for instance, has found a significant increase in car crashes in states that have legalized recreational marijuana. I don’t want to see that trend come to Arizona.

Legalizing recreational marijuana isn’t the only dangerous measure voters will see in November.

Proposition 208 aims to bring us the largest income tax increase in state history. The measure nearly doubles the income tax rate on thousands of taxpayers, including numerous small and medium-sized businesses.

Arizona doesn’t have a school funding problem, but rather the issue is how the money is spent. Just 55 cents of every education tax dollar goes to our classrooms. Too much money ends up in the pockets of administrators. I believe If our school district leaders made better decisions, our teachers and students would benefit greatly. It’s time to instruct those school board members and superintendents to target more resources into the classrooms to support our teachers and students.

An estimated 90,000 Arizonans will be hit with the tax in the first year. And according to one study, half of those paying the tax will be small businesses, the drivers of our state’s economy. I am also just as concerned with how the tax will stifle the earning potential of people who are near the cap. If striving to earn a little more money makes you eligible for the tax, government has taken away the incentive to provide for your family.

Additionally, it’s unclear whether the tax will bring in the nearly $1 billion backers claim. This unstable source of income won’t be the elixir to fix issues with our schools. Instead, approving Prop. 208 will drive businesses away from the state as employers seek states with fairer tax structures.

Representative Anthony Kern serves in the Arizona House and represents Legislative District 20 located in north Phoenix and Glendale.

Goldwater Institute: The Arizona Department of Education’s Latest Epic Fail

Matt Beienburg, Director of Education, Goldwater Institute

Last week brought news that the Arizona Department of Education had inadvertently released the personal information of the nearly 7,000 families who make use of Empowerment Savings Accounts (ESA). And it’s not the first time the Department has mishandled the ESA program, a program that helps so many children—many of them with special needs—get the customized education they need to succeed.

On Monday, it was revealed that the Department released a spreadsheet that included the account balances of every ESA account in the state, along with the names, email addresses, and other personal information of the nearly 7,000 parents with ESA accounts. Not only was the spreadsheet containing the sensitive information sent to the Yellow Sheet Report, but it was also shared with Save Our Schools, a group that has been an outspoken opponent of ESAs.

Unfortunately, this latest epic fail on the part of the state Department of Education is part of a pattern of poor management of the ESA program. Earlier in January, the Goldwater Institute filed a lawsuit challenging the Department of Education’s long delays in supplying needed funds to which ESA families are entitled—delays long enough to force parents to pay out of pocket for tutoring and teaching tools that their ESA should cover without the possibility of reimbursement. While requiring families to follow its ESA rules to the letter, the Department of Education’s handling of the ESA program has still resulted in unpredictable and arbitrary outcomes for families—for instance, some families have been rejected for certain ESA expenses while others have been approved for the very same expenses.

“Mistakes do happen, but I don’t think that’s good enough as an excuse. That doesn’t undo the damage, the harm to these families,” Goldwater Institute Director of Education Policy Matt Beienburg said of the privacy breach on KJZZ’s “The Show.” “These are families with deeply personal life circumstances, these are kids with special needs diagnoses, and this information is now essentially made available to be dragged out into the public.

“For the Department to have treated these families this way saying ‘we have zero tolerance for any misstep’ and to then make a massive blunder like this is really revealing.”

Listen to the interview here: https://theshow.kjzz.org/sites/default/files/ade-data-breach-show-sg-mb-20200129.mp3?uuid=5e3b8ffd9e654

Matt Beienburg is Director of Education at the Goldwater Institute. You can read his bio here.

Rep. Petersen Introduces Bill to Stop Rollovers of K-12 Funding

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Majority Leader Warren Petersen (R-12) issued a statement today regarding legislation he has introduced for the 2020 session that would amend the state constitution to prohibit K-12 rollovers, ensuring that education funding is delivered to our schools on time, and in full. A rollover represents a deferral of the payment from the year in which the obligation was incurred to the next fiscal year.

Rep Warren Petersen
Rep. Warren Petersen (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

“In the mid-2000s, Arizona implemented budget gimmicks like K-12 rollovers to counter poor fiscal decisions and a faltering economy,” said Representative Petersen.  “Fortunately, under conservative leadership, Arizona has righted its fiscal ship and the economy is strong.  But we need to be prepared for a future downturn.  Arizona has taken some excellent decisions like paying off debt and amassing a billion-dollar rainy day fund.  Now it’s time to eliminate the K-12 rollover and prevent future utilization.  A statutory change would be too easy to go around.  That’s why I have introduced a constitutional amendment to prohibit the deferment of K-12 payments from one budget year to the next.”

Scottsdale Parent Chides Columnist, Scottsdale School District

To: Laurie Roberts, Arizona Republic Columnist

I read the article you wrote in the AZCentral regarding HB 2002 and wanted to reach out to you to inform you that Mark Finchem’s bill and bills other legislators are working on to protect our children in the K-12 schools are absolutely needed. Activism is permitted in the classroom and the situation is rapidly deteriorating.

I am a parent with a son in the Scottsdale Unified School District who, for the past 15 months, has been providing credible evidence of activist curriculum and teaching instruction that is allowed to continue because of Arizona’s weak education laws and the state’s lax education accountability system.  All levels of district leadership, including Governing Board members, have been provided ample opportunities to remedy these issues, but they simply refuse to compel district leaders to comply. In fact, certain individuals in leadership positions who should be the gatekeepers are the very ones ushering more of the activist curriculum in. District leaders permit teachers to pollute the academic environment by pushing various social, economic, or political adult-themed political narratives with “curriculum” of their choosing. This is beyond inappropriate.  Districts are not in compliance with, nor have they been for years, basic state statutes like A.R.S. 15-721 and statutes that  relate to Arizona’s unique decentralized “local control” structure codified in A.R.S. 15-351.

My sister has been a teacher for 25 years, and clearly there are many teachers who are doing their job well. Those teachers should be singled out, the exceptional ones given bonuses and elevated to leadership positions, while the activist teachers and district leaders should be shown the door. Parents are leaving the public schools in droves, particularly in Scottsdale, and it is precisely because of the low quality curriculum, and lack of leadership and oversight.  

The issues’ I’ve identified sadly extend to the Arizona Department of Education and our state teaching colleges like ASU. I’ve been communicating for months with various legislators, State Board of Education members, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and even Dawn Wallace, Governor Ducey’s Office of Education Director and providing them with specific evidence of issues that need to be investigated and addressed. The State Board of Education is looking into what investigatory powers and oversight authority they have with respect to districts not in compliance with state statutes and situations of activism that go unaddressed at the local level, in addition to issues within the ADE. 

The Superintendent and Governing Board have the duty to ensure that all activities and all personnel are in accordance with the laws of the state of Arizona, the rules of the Arizona Administrative Code, and the adopted policies of the Governing Board, among other critical responsibilities. This is not happening.

The type of curriculum at the Scottsdale Unified School District is night and day different from what my daughter encountered at her charter school just a few miles away. Hers was deep reading with complex themes that dealt with virtue and vice, but pointing children toward uplifting sentiments so that they developed a strong moral compass. The charter school also had a very strong History program (not Social Studies) and read many rich primary source documents that the students discussed via Socratic seminars. My daughter and her classmates were all writing 10 – 15 page papers in their junior and senior years, which is in stark contrast to my son drawing his name in block letters and never writing one proper literary analysis paper in his entire time at SUSD. I was completely comfortable with the curriculum and the professionalism with the teachers and leadership at my daughter’s charter school, while I feel distrustful and extremely disturbed by what I see occurring at the public school my son attends. 

Something is seriously wrong.

I’ve provided a local reporter with the Scottsdale Independent significant documentation and copied her on many, many emails to district leaders and Governing Board members. You can read the article to get a feel for some of the issues, but I have significant documentation to support the allegations. My work experience as a CPA with a fraud and litigation background has trained me to build a documentation trail and that’s what I’ve done. Other parents have formed a separate parent group as state mandated Site Councils that should serve as the parent oversight are not functioning as designed by district leadership. The entire system was so poorly designed from the beginning and is broken. Parents are to have “local control”, but that’s a false narrative. Rather, problems continue to get brushed under the rug by district leaders who don’t want to be held to account.

There are parents across this state who are, in fact, communicating serious issues within our K-12 system, and we’re just now getting legislators to take parents’ concerns seriously. These legislators are being courageous and working to safeguard the children and attempting to reinstate academic scholarship in the classroom. Parents need the State Board of Education members to also work to better understand what parents face at the local school district level, and institute a whistle blower policy, a Parental Bill of Rights framework, and a much stronger accountability system. 

Parents are going to continue to push their legislators and other state agencies to take the issue of K-12 education seriously. The kids deserve better.

I spoke with another investigative reporter this evening who has asked me to provide him evidence of examples of some of the problematic curriculum and other issues within the ADE. If you would like further details, I can be reached at (480) 250-3355. 

~ Kristen Williamson

Representative Mark Finchem Introduces Bill to Create Teacher Code of Ethics Prohibiting Political Advocacy in the Classroom

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Representative Mark Finchem (R-11) has introduced legislation (HB 2002) that requires the State Board of Education, in coordination with the Superintendent of Public Instruction, to create a code of ethics for teachers that prohibits political, ideological, or religious advocacy in the classroom. While the practice is already prohibited in Arizona State Statutes, there is no code of conduct or code of ethics.

“HB 2002 is a response to many calls from parents to end political activity in the classroom,” said Representative Finchem. “I respect the important role that teachers play in society, but this is a parental authority matter. If parents want to shape the political views of their children, that is their right. However, it is not the proper role of the state and, by extension, teachers.”

“I have good friends who are teachers and they tell me that although they do not promote political agendas in their classrooms, some of their peers do.A code of ethics prohibiting political activity in the classroom shouldn’t be an issue if that behavior isn’t presently happening. But where it is, it needs to come to an end.”

Frank Schmuck Will Protect Your Right To Protect Yourself

Not even Pepper Spray? That’s right! Sean Bowie voted to deny campus women their right to carry pepper spray or even a taser to defend themselves against sexual predators. What kind of person does that?

As a deputized law enforcement officer and a parent of a daughter in college this is both professional and personal for me.

Students, teachers and all employees of our universities in Arizona should feel safe, and not made to feel like they are breaking the law by protecting themselves with something as simple as pepper spray.

With thousands of sexual assaults and even worse dozens of rapes reported to Police over the last few years, Sean Bowie and his extreme ideology left women defenseless when he voted against House Bill 2172 three times.

See and hear what these women have to say…

To see all our videos visit www.FrankSchmuck.com/videos

Latest Arizona Political Videos

Wendy Rogers recently released this political ad:

ABC 15 reviews Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction candidates, Kathy Hoffman (D) and Frank Riggs (R).

Martha McSally welcomes Iowa Senator Joni Ernst to Arizona GOP campaign event to talk global security.

Martha McSally welcomes South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham at Arizona GOP event.

Bernie Sanders’ Socialist Movement Using #RedForEd In Arizona

RedForEd

By Ed Freedom

Public opinion has always held teachers in high regard. Teaching is a noble profession. All of us have had good teachers and bad teachers just as there have always been good and bad actors in every industry.

It seems reasonable for teachers to take a pay cut when recessions hit, revenues are down and government needs to tighten its belt on all services. It is also reasonable that teachers receive a raise when the economy is growing, revenues are up and as a way to acknowledge their sacrifices as teachers during those tough economic times.

Thursday will be the first teacher strike in Arizona history. Who would think of encouraging teachers to walk out during the last few weeks of school? Who are the activists leading the teacher labor union?

Wednesday, State Representative Maria Syms recently wrote an eye-opening guest opinion exposing the leaders of Arizona Educators United or #RedForEd on AZCentral.

Adding to the revelation of who makes up #RedForEd, this video footage shows rank and file protestors who are hardcore Bernie Sanders activists that embrace his socialist liberal agenda.

This video is extremely troublesome since it shows the very people who are demanding our tax dollars to teach our children.

There are good teachers and there are bad teachers. The people behind the #RedForEd movement are teachers who want to indoctrinate your children and make you pay for it.

Arizona Senate Education Chairman on Education Funding

By Sylvia Allen

Sylvia Allen

Senator Sylvia Allen

As we have come out of the recession and revenues have increased we have put that money into education.  We Republican Legislators support Teachers raises and that will be reflected in our budget.

The problem is that Left’s propaganda machine supported by the mainstream media, encouraged by school administrators, has given this false impression that we are somehow hostile to education when that is totally not the truth.  Also, we do not micromanage the dollars they are given to local school boards and they create their own budget.  Teachers do not work for the Legislators they work for local school districts and charters who determine their salary.

The Legislators only have the money the economy creates.  We can’t print money.  What we are being pressured to do is raise taxes on everyone.  This is not necessary; our revenues are increasing and as they do so we put that money into education.  Look at the information below.

The walkout is not necessary but only counterproductive.

2018

  • Even before state budget has been finalized, legislators have committed $667 million in yearly education funding
  • This is the result of a bill that continues an additional .06 cent tax
  • Prop 301 ends in 2021, and this bill will keep that money flowing to education
  • In addition, the bill also shifts $64 million from a debt service program to another fund dedicated to teacher pay

2017

  • Arizona public schools received more than $350 million in additional dollars for Fiscal 2018
  • The budget included nearly $80 million for inflationary increases
  • $84 million was added for enrollment growth
  • $21 million in new money went to special needs and charter schools
  • Teachers saw a 2% pay raise over 2018 and 2019, totaling $68 million
  • That money committed for 2019 will obviously be greatly increased in our new budget for this year
  • The best performing schools were rewarded with more than $37 million in ongoing formula funding
  • Early literacy programs received $8 million in 2018 and $12 million more in 2019
  • Legislature committed an additional $17 million for school repairs
  • Nearly $63 million was devoted to new school construction projects
  • An additional $38 million was set aside for 2019 new construction

2016

  • Proposition 123 was approved by legislators and sent to the voters
  • It injected $3.5 billion over ten years into the K-12 education system
  • In addition to the massive infusion of new dollars, the Legislature added more than $200 million in additional dollars
  • The budget included $132 million in new formula funding
  • An additional $31 million went to schools adjusting to current-year funding
  • An additional $30 million was appropriated to the School Facilities Board
  • $6.5 million went to the phase-out of the multi-site charter school weight
  • $1.2 million was dedicated to the phase-out of district-sponsored charter schools
  • $46 million went to new school construction
  • $29 million went to Joint Technical Education Districts

Year to Year Comparisons

General Fund Budgets                   2008                          2018

K-12 Education                           $3.95 billion            $4.23 billion       7% increase

Total budget                                $9.94 billion            $9.86 billion       1% decrease

Agency share of budget                   40%                           43%

2013                         2018

State only funding                       $4.09 billion           $5.33 billion       30% increase

Poll: Support For Ducey’s Teacher Raise Plan Holding Steady

Data Orbital

By Data Orbital

(Phoenix, AZ) As a follow up to our poll released this past Tuesday, April 17th, and with a possible teacher strike beginning tomorrow, it is clear that Arizona voters are still supportive of the plan put forward by Governor Ducey. These same voters have also largely heard of and are positive towards the Red for Ed campaign.

Data Orbital commissioned this poll beginning Wednesday, April 18th and ending on Saturday, April 21st, as voters have been learning more details around the Governor’s plan to increase teacher pay by 20%.  Our live caller poll found that a vast majority of Arizona voters continue to approve of the Governor’s plan.  In addition, almost 50% of voters surveyed also have a positive opinion of the Red for Ed campaign.

Data Orbital AZ Statewide Poll Do you approve or disapprove of Governor Doug Ducey’s plan to give a 20% pay raise to teachers?

The support for the plan continues to be consistent along party lines.  Democrats are still most likely to favor the Governor’s plan, coming in at nearly 75%.

Data Orbital AZ Statewide Poll Do you approve or disapprove of Governor Doug Ducey’s plan to give a 20% pay raise to teachers? Breakdown by Party Registration

The poll found virtually no difference between males and females in their approval of Governor Ducey’s plan.

Data Orbital AZ Statewide Poll Do you approve or disapprove of Governor Doug Ducey’s plan to give a 20% pay raise to teachers? Breakdown by Gender

Support is also fairly consistent across age demographics with the highest support coming from those between 18 and 34 years of age.

Data Orbital AZ Statewide Poll Do you approve or disapprove of Governor Doug Ducey’s plan to give a 20% pay raise to teachers? Breakdown by Age

Support is highest among those who have voted in at least 3 out of the last 4 general elections and lowest among those who have no previous history of voting in general elections (they made up only 3% of the sample).

Data Orbital AZ Statewide Poll Do you approve or disapprove of Governor Doug Ducey’s plan to give a 20% pay raise to teachers? Breakdown by Voting History

As mentioned above, the Red for Ed movement is fairly well known with nearly 60% of voters familiar with it and only 29% certain they hadn’t heard of it.

Data Orbital AZ Statewide Poll Have you heard about the Red for Ed movement started by Arizona Educators United?

It is not surprising that Democrats are more likely to have had positive exposure to the Red for Ed movement while Republicans have the highest negative sentiment towards it. As was mentioned above, most samples were collected prior to Red for Ed announcing their strike.

Data Orbital AZ Statewide Poll Have you heard about the Red for Ed movement started by Arizona Educators United? Breakdown by Party Registration

Women are also more likely to have a positive opinion while men are more likely to be negative in their opinion.

Data Orbital AZ Statewide Poll Have you heard about the Red for Ed movement started by Arizona Educators United? Breakdown by Gender

There also is a clear age correlation towards the overall exposure to Red for Ed. Older voters who don’t have children in K-12 are much more likely to be unfamiliar with it while younger voters with school age children have a higher positive exposure.

Data Orbital AZ Statewide Poll Have you heard about the Red for Ed movement started by Arizona Educators United? Breakdown by Age

Demographics

Data Orbital AZ Statewide Poll Demographics - Gender and Age
Data Orbital AZ Statewide Poll Demographics - Party Affiliation and Roll-Up
Data Orbital AZ Statewide Poll Demographics - Ethnicity and General Vote History

George Khalaf, President of Data Orbital, issued the following statement: “It has been nearly a week and a half since the Governor announced his teacher pay raise plan and support has largely held steady with likely voters. These same voters tend to have positive views of Red for Ed, with support predominantly along partisan lines.”

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This poll of 700 likely general election voters was conducted through a live survey that collected 50% of the results from land lines and 50% from cell phones. It has a margin of error at plus or minus 3.64%, with a 95% confidence interval. Respondents were weighted on a number of different demographic figures based off historical general election turnout in Arizona. The poll was conducted over four days from April 18th-21st. Toplines and demographic data can be found here and cross tabs here.  To receive regular blog updates, subscribe here.