The Arizona Legislature may be nearing the end of its 2014 session. On Monday, a conference committee reached a compromise between the state general fund budgets passed by the House and Senate. It is widely believed that Governor Jan Brewer will sign the budget, which will be her last budget before she retires in January 2015.
At $9.2 billion, the legislative majority’s budget will spend $100 million more in the 2014-2015 fiscal year than what AFP-Arizona recommended. (AFP-Arizona believes the state government should stick to a prudent rate of spending growth no greater than the combined growth of the state’s population plus inflation.) But the legislative budget passed Monday is significantly lower than the Governor’s original proposed budget, which would have spent a quarter billion dollars more than what AFP-Arizona recommended.
Although the legislative majority’s budget is balanced for the 2014-2015 fiscal year, the Joint Legislative Budget Committee projects that the state government will have a structural deficit of $222 million in FY 2016 (which begins July 1, 2015). To avoid going deep into the red in the next fiscal year, Arizona will need to make cuts to baseline spending and overhaul and reform many of the state’s largest spending programs. That will require bold and visionary conservative leadership from the new Governor entering office in 2015.
Fake Charter Schools Survive Until 2015
Several of the “charter schools” sponsored by school districts are abusing the chartering process in order to double-dip from taxpayer funds – taking state charter funds while continuing to use local property tax money. But these fake charters fail to operate under the independent management and market accountability of real charter schools. The legislative budget includes $24.5 million dollars for such schools, which is less than the $33 million originally sought by those schools. The budget also calls for the conversion process to end in 2015.
While AFP-Arizona believes that school districts should be allowed to convert schools to charters – as long as those schools operate as true charter schools – we are happy that the abuse of the chartering process will be stopped. We look forward to working with stakeholders in the future to create a mechanism for the proper chartering of district schools.
TOP FIVE ACTION STEPS:
1) HB 2262 (as amended), sponsored by Representative Tom Forese, would provide a proper and fair regulatory structure for transportation network companies (aka “ridesharing companies”) and prevent government interference from crippling these innovative job creators with regulations that do not fit their business model.
It’s not often that we get the chance to immediately affect the fortunes of an entire industry, but ensuring government doesn’t regulate rideshare companies out of Arizona is a great opportunity!
Please click HERE to ask your senator and representatives to support this legislation!
2) HB 2508, sponsored by Representative Phil Lovas, would attempt to ensure that a person applying to be an ObamaCare “navigator” would be properly vetted, including requiring that person to pass a criminal background check. Arizonans deserve to know that these navigators, who will have access to people’s private information and dispense health insurance advice, are not criminals or cheats who will take advantage of vulnerable health care consumers.
Please click HERE to make sure your senator helps send this bill to the Governor!
3) HB 2260, sponsored by Representative Tom Forese, is a project of our allies at NFIB-Arizona. It would institute a Small Business Bill of Rights at government regulatory agencies and require them to inform business owners dealing with the agencies that they have those rights. This simple but important reform would provide significant protection for small business owners, who deserve to be protected from overbearing government power.
Please click HERE to let your senator know you expect him or her to vote for this bill and help send it to the Governor!
4) HCR 2005, sponsored by Representative Phil Lovas, would allow terminally ill patients to be provided investigational medical products that may save their lives. So long as these products are safe, we should not allow government bureaucracy to prevent sick people from taking potentially life-saving steps to make themselves better.
Please click HERE to let your senator know how important the Right-to-Try is!
5) HB 2139, HB 2150, HB 2328, and SB 1048 would all be of tremendous help to the school choice movement in Arizona.
HB 2139 and HB 2150 would expand eligibility for the state’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts to include siblings of current or previous ESA recipients, as well as the children of members of our Armed Forces who were killed in duty.
HB 2328 would help children get into independent schools by lowering the requirements for displaced or disabled students to get scholarships from student tuition organizations and SB 1048 would creating an individual income tax credit for S corporations that contribute to STO scholarships for children.
And We Already Have Two (Almost) Victories!!
HB 2377, sponsored by Representative Justin Olson, would protect Arizonans from falling victim to a hidden inflation tax. Arizona is one of a few States that do not index tax brackets for inflation, meaning you could be pushed into a higher tax bracket simply by receiving cost-of-living wage or salary increase.
This bill passed out of the Senate last week by an 18-11 vote (Democratic Senators Steve Farley and Katie Hobbs voting with the Republican majority) and now awaits action by the Governor.
SB 1413, which was sponsored by Senator Steve Yarbrough and was one of Governor Jan Brewer’s biggest priorities this session, would align Arizona with many other States that do not impose sales taxes on the energy consumed by manufacturers.
This broad-based tax relief would encourage Arizona businesses to remain in-state and draw in additional job creators from outside our borders who are looking for a more hospitable environment to grow their businesses.
This reform was amended in the House and passed by a 51-3 vote (with Representatives Brenda Barton, Lisa Otondo, and Juan Escamilla voting “no” and several members not voting). The Senate later concurred with the House amendments and passed the bill unanimously. The bill is now awaits the Governor’s signature.
And There’s More…
There are even more issues for you to engage on as citizen lobbyists, including HB 2367 (which would require the director of AHCCCS to request waivers from the federal government to help prevent overuse of our Medicaid system by able-bodied adults) and HB 2378 (which would help keep to lower city taxes on property owners).
If you would like to engage on these issues, or on any of the rest of AFP-Arizona’s priority agenda, please go to our main ACTION PAGE to learn how!
Help us keep up the fight!
AFP-Arizona needs to continue mobilizing activists to win victories for free-market policies. You can help us do that by donating $5, $10, $25, $50, $100, or any amount you can to ensure that we are able to continue our work. To support AFP-Arizona’s grassroots efforts, you can click HERE to go to our AFP-Arizona Donation Page.
I hope you’ll continue to stand with us as we fight together for the interests of Arizona’s taxpayers, consumers and producers!
Americans for Prosperity