Monday, April 28, 2014

Senator Barbara McGuire wraps up a busy week and successful session

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senator Barbara McGuire wrapped up this legislative session with an
Sen. McGuire
award from members of her community, a signature from Governor Brewer on one of her bills and money for tourism and conservation districts in the budget.

Last week Governor Brewer signed into law Sen. McGuire’s SB 1164, which increases the maximum maturity period for certain sanitary district bonds.
“My bill will help our communities, including in rural areas, afford to construct, operate and upgrade their waste disposal facilities,” said Sen. McGuire. “These facilities play a crucial role in making our cities and towns livable and ready for growth.”
Also last week, Sen. McGuire was honored by the Queen Creek Unified School District for her support of their adult education program, which helps adults obtain GEDs and transition to better paying jobs or higher education.
“I am deeply touched by this honor from the Queen Creek Unified School District,” said Sen. McGuire. “Education should be a vehicle to success, not a barrier. This adult education program provides that vehicle and produces graduates who are ready and eager to improve their lives and contribute to our community. I’m so proud of these students and excited for their futures.”
Thanks in part to efforts by Sen. McGuire, this year’s budget includes $2 million to promote Arizona tourism and increased funding for our state’s natural resource conservation districts.
“Tourism plays a vital role in the economic success of rural Arizona and funding our state’s efforts to promote tourism is an investment on which we are guaranteed to see returns,” said Sen. McGuire. “Also important to our rural communities is responsible management of our natural resources. This increased support to our natural resource conservation districts will ensure Arizona agriculture remains viable and encourage economic development around our state’s natural beauty.”

Monday, April 7, 2014

After three tries, Republican budget still fails Arizona

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – The Senate Democratic Caucus released the following statements on the Republican budget passed today by the Legislature. Senator Olivia Cajero Bedford sat on the conference committee that, despite her arguments against, approved the final budget.
Senate Democratic Leader Anna Tovar (District 19):
"The third time is certainly not the charm for this year's Republican budget that once again fails to make investments that we can and should be making to move Arizona forward," said Sen. Tovar.
"Ever since the opening day of this session we have fought for the right priorities: improving our struggling schools that rank toward the bottom nationally in funding and performance; reforming a CPS that is in absolute turmoil and places our most vulnerable children at risk; funding preventative services that keep families together and children out of harm's way; and investing in our economic future by funding innovative research at our universities.
"For the last few weeks, however, we've watched as Senate and House Republicans have haggled behind closed doors, attempted to give away tax dollars to private prison corporations, ignored input from the people of Arizona and failed to make many of the investments that our state needs to succeed. The ramifications of this short-sighted budget will affect every Arizona family.
"Arizona can no longer afford to settle for this Legislature's status-quo of neglecting our schools, our families and our future. We must make these investments to move Arizona forward."
Sen. Olivia Cajero Bedford (District 3):
"This budget fails to adequately fund our universities, including important research initiatives at University of Arizona," said Sen. Cajero Bedford.
"Higher education is an investment that brings breakthrough innovation, high-tech manufacturing, well-paying jobs and attracts more business to our state. That is how we can make Arizona competitive in the global economy."

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Republican budget fails to move Arizona forward

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senate Democratic Caucus leadership released the following statement on the Republican budget passed out of the Senate today.
Senate Democratic Leader Anna Tovar (District 19):
Sen. Tovar
“The Senate budget passed today, April Fool's Day, is sadly not a joke and does not move Arizona forward. It fails to address the needs of Arizona families, our kids' schools, our state's crumbling roads and it leaves our most vulnerable children with nothing but an empty promise,” said Sen. Tovar.
“We began this session knowing that child welfare was the top priority, but the best this Republican budget can do is state an intent to revisit the issue later. That won't help the children currently living in unsafe environments.
“This budget also ignores funding for the preventative services that keep families together and children out of harm's way. This penny-wise and pound-foolish philosophy sets us up to spend far more when these kids end up in the CPS system.
“A critical part of moving Arizona forward is ensuring our children are prepared to succeed in the 21st century economy. With cuts to district charter schools and lack of investment in higher education priorities, however, our public schools and universities are once again being left behind by this Legislature.
“Democrats presented common sense amendments to address the needs of Arizonans but Republicans lacked the political will to stand with us and pass a moral budget that truly moves Arizona forward.”

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Republican budget is not an investment in Arizona’s success

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senate Democratic Caucus leadership released the following statements on the Republican budget passed out of the Senate today.

Senate Democratic Leader Anna Tovar (District 19):
"Today Senate Republicans passed a partisan budget that fails to make critical investments in education, families and our economic future. These are investments that must be made and that can be made to move Arizona forward," said Sen. Tovar.

"Arizonans can no longer and should no longer settle for struggling schools that rank at the bottom nationally in funding and performance, or for a CPS that is in absolute turmoil and places our most vulnerable children at risk. We need a different path that leaves ideology behind and puts hard-working Arizonans first."

Senate Democratic Assistant Leader Lynne Pancrazi (District 4):
"There is no more important investment we can make for the future success of our state than education, but the partisan budget passed today does not adequately make that investment," said Sen. Pancrazi.

“We must ensure we can fully implement our new educational standards so that our children meet the challenges of the future and our teachers are prepared to help them succeed. And we must invest in higher education, including our innovative research universities that help bring top-flight industries to Arizona and make our state competitive in the global economy.”

Senate Democratic Whip Steve Gallardo (District 29):
"We knew from the first day of session that CPS was in trouble and the root causes of that department's exploding caseload needed to be addressed. The budget passed by Senate Republicans today does not accomplish that," said Sen. Gallardo.

"It falls short on adding needed caseworkers, on adoption services and on support services that help prevent abuse and neglect in the first place. And it is totally missing in action when it comes to daycare subsidies that allow parents to work and keep kids safe and healthy with their families. We can and must do more."

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

SB 1062 conflates discrimination with religious freedom

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX The Senate Democratic Caucus released the following statements on today’s passage of SB 1062 by the Senate:
“SB 1062 permits discrimination under the guise of religious freedom. With the express consent of Republicans in this Legislature, many Arizonans will find themselves members of a separate and unequal class under this law because of their sexual orientation,” said Senate Democratic Leader Anna Tovar. “This bill may also open the door to discriminate based on race, familial status, religion, sex, national origin, age or disability.”
“Legislation of this kind has been attempted this year in Kansas, South Dakota, Tennessee and Idaho. Each of those attempts failed after prominent members of the business community spoke against the measures. While our state continues to recover from the public relations nightmare of SB 1070, the Republican supporters of this bill are willing to elicit the inevitable backlash and boycotts that will result from its passage.
“Arizona does not need this bill, Arizonans do not want this bill and there is no place for this bill in our modern society. We have come too far to turn back the clock with such a disgraceful assault on members of our community based on their sexual orientation.”
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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Legislature approves emergency funding for child safety caseworkers

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senate and House Democratic leaders released the following statements on the Legislature’s passage of supplemental appropriations to fund additional child safety positions:

Senate Democratic Leader Anna Tovar:
Sen. Tovar

“Funding these additional caseworkers is a crucial step in the effort to reform our troubled CPS system, but it is only a step. We still have much work to repair the systemic failures that allowed thousands of vulnerable children to fall through the cracks,” said Sen. Tovar.

“We must also focus on preventative services that help keep children safe and healthy in their homes. Waiting to respond until a crisis occurs, whether for a family or for a state agency, is too late. The best way to protect Arizona’s children is to keep them from harm’s way in the first place.”

House Democratic Leader Chad Campbell:
“Providing funding for additional Child Protective Services caseworkers was the right thing to do today but it cannot be the only thing we do. This agency needs reforms that

Rep. Campbell
ensure accountability and that provide caseworkers with the resources they need to do their jobs effectively. We can’t keep propping up CPS with one emergency funding bill after another,” said Rep. Campbell.

“Instead, we should take a realistic look at what resources the agency needs to keep Arizona kids safe. Additionally, we must begin funding preventative and support services, including child care subsidies for working families. If we do not provide adequate money for these services, we will continue to see increases in cases of abuse and neglect. Without funding for these vital services, any efforts to reform CPS will fall flat. We have an opportunity to make lasting changes that will benefit our most vulnerable children. Let’s do it right this time.”

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Senate Republicans’ misguided priorities

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX The Senate Democratic Caucus released the following statements on the fact that Senate Republicans chose to use their first week in session to weaken gun laws, expand a controversial private school funding program and legalize discrimination of people for their gender, religion or sexual preference.
  • SB1063: Facilitates the carrying of firearms in public establishments and at public events.
  • SB1064: Weakens public safety by changing the definition of a firearm under state law. Allows felons access to dangerous weapons and exempts guns that can be fired after “mechanical repair” from state laws that apply to other guns.
  • SB1048: Expands the corporate School Tuition Organization tax credit to allow owners of S corporations to donate to STOs through their companies and receive the tax benefit on their individual income taxes. Strong neighborhood public schools are essential to healthy vibrant communities and to statewide economic competitiveness.  Allowing a state tax credit for STO contributions, which diverts tax dollars to pay for scholarships to attend private religious schools, undermines the state’s ability to support strong neighborhood schools.
  • SB1062: Expands the definition of “exercise of religion” to include not just individuals, but any legal entity such as businesses, associations, foundations, etc. and allows them to discriminate against anyone because of their gender, religion or sexual preference.
Senate Democratic Whip Steve Gallardo, LD29:
Sen. Gallardo

"There are a lot of critical issues on which the people of Arizona need their elected leaders to focus: a dysfunctional Child Protective Services; an economy just getting back on its feet; our kids' underfunded schools; and our crumbling roads to name a few," said Sen. Gallardo.

"Given their important and sometimes life-threatening nature, voters should expect the first bills of the session to address our most pressing problems. But today’s misguided bills do not reflect the priorities of Arizonans."

Senator Katie Hobbs, LD24:

Sen. Hobbs

"Supporters claim this bill will protect a person, business or other group because of their views on marriage. The truth is this bill removes protections for same sex couples and legalizes discrimination against them under the fallacy of religious freedom," said Sen. Hobbs.

"Allowing discrimination against loving, committed couples certainly doesn’t follow the religious ideals with which I was raised."