The Daily Agenda: Advice from a columnist
Can't we all just compromise? ... Andy Biggs is just crazy if you don't know him ... And let's ride the dude ranch trail.
A week after the courts demolished Proposition 208, the Invest in Education Act (2.0), education advocates have regrouped and seem to have settled on a bold new strategy to fund education: Ask the Arizona Legislature for money.
And it just maybe could work.
A bit of background: Gov. Doug Ducey and Republican lawmakers are preparing to launch a special session to repeal-and-replace a tax cut that they approved to counteract Prop 208. They’re doing that because education groups last year collected enough signatures to put the tax cut on hold until voters approve or veto it at the November ballot. Repealing and replacing it, with some tweaks, would cancel the looming referendum vote. Education groups are threatening that if lawmakers do that, they’ll simply refer the new tax cut to the ballot as well.
It’s a standoff with no end in sight.
But education groups are now rallying behind an idea pushed by an unlikely ally: Robert Robb, the Republic’s conservative columnist and a self-described “charter member of the no income tax legion.”
In a column yesterday, Robb argued that his fellow tax-haters at the Capitol would be making a “serious political miscalculation,” and “blow(ing) it, big time” if they just ignore that Prop 208 passed and then repeal-and-replace the tax cut meant to counteract it, as they seem poised to do. Voters will likely shoot it down, he argued, considering they just approved a massive income tax hike in Prop 208.
He urged policymakers to think bigger.
“This political fight is unnecessary. The state is rolling in dough. A grand bargain on taxes and education spending is easily within reach,” he wrote.
While we’re certainly not experts on taxes (we’ll pay you when we can, IRS!), Robb’s proposed “grand bargain” seems like a square deal to us.
The columnist’s proposal would add another $750 million annually for education, on an ongoing basis. (Prop 208 was expected to bring in between $800 million and $1 billion annually.)
It would get there by settling the individual income tax rates at 3.5% — lower than the 4% that was in place before Prop 208 passed, but above the 2.5% that would be in place if voters in November uphold the legislature’s Prop 208 mitigation tax cut, even though there is no Prop 208 to mitigate. That rate, coupled with the massive surplus the state has now, should pay for the extra $750 million per year, Robb argued.
The deal would also involve asking voters to permanently lift the education spending tax that threatened $1.2 billion in education funding this year and that promises to be an ongoing problem.
Rebecca Gau, executive director of Stand For Children, one of the main backers of Prop 208, proposed a similar solution to KJZZ’s The Show yesterday and told us that education groups like Robb’s plan because it’s ongoing.
“They can have their tax cuts and fund education,” she said.
Republican Sen. Paul Boyer also backed the idea on Arizona Horizon yesterday, saying he’s working on a “grand bargain” on education funding and tax cuts — and his pet issue, school choice measures — that would bring in $1 billion annually. Still, he said it’s been a tough sell with his colleagues.
“I think there’s an opportunity to do both (tax cuts and fund education). I don’t think it’s an either/or,” he said.
Even the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry is on board with the idea — or at least broadly supportive of spending more on education, as long as raising taxes isn’t a part of it, spokesman Garrick Taylor told the Arizona Daily Star’s Tim Steller.
If Robb’s math checks out, Ducey and lawmakers should do it. Unfortunately, that kind of grand bargaining and big thinking is usually beyond the capability of those seeking political wins at the Capitol. But perhaps there is some hope.
Republican lawmakers are desperate to fix the precinct committeeman elections issue that they screwed up, and they expect that to be part of the special session. However, they cannot fix it in time without an emergency clause, which requires Democratic support, the Arizona Mirror’s Jeremy Duda notes.
If there’s one thing that scares Republican lawmakers more than another teacher revolt, it’s a revolt from the Republican PCs.
That leaves Democrats with a lot of leverage. And it leaves open the possibility that everyone — Republicans, Democrats, business and education groups — could walk away happy.
All news cycles must include Allister: Two days after blaming everyone else in her office for forgetting to bring charges in 180 cases and one day after Gov. Doug Ducey slammed her for it, Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel now says she’s taking “full responsibility” for the botched cases, the Republic’s Robert Anglen and Stacey Barchenger report.
How much longer can this go on?: The State Bar of Arizona told 12News’ Colleen Sikora that it is investigating the 180 dropped charges that languished in Adel’s office. The Bar previously received a complaint from the family of a drunk driving victim whose case was dropped because of timing, but dismissed the complaint because it appeared to be isolated. This is not the only Bar complaint Adel and her office are facing: Adel herself is the subject of multiple investigations, ABC15 has reported.
Please send us a copy of the book: A new book about the Biden administration from New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns includes several bits about U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and President Biden, according to Axios. Biden apparently doesn’t understand Sinema, and Sinema pushed back on wearing a mask around the president post-vaccine and discouraged him from coming to Arizona.
“I love Andy Biggs,” she said, according to the book. “I know some people think he’s crazy, but that’s just because they don’t know him.”
From our inbox today: A group of more than 100 LGBTQ+ leaders, mostly in Arizona, signed on to an open letter that asks the Human Rights Campaign to withdraw its support for Sinema, saying she has obstructed progress on key issues like the Equality Act. The same group helped pressure EMILY’s List to cut Sinema off from support, Politico points out.
If you are also withdrawing your support of a politician and are looking for a better way to spend your money, buy an annual subscription instead! Two working journalists is better than one politician.
There’s a second U.S. Senator from Arizona: An advocacy organization called CatholicVote launched a campaign targeting U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly (along with Nevada’s U.S. Sen. Catherine Masto-Cortez) over their support of the Women’s Health Protection Act. The group says its digital ad campaign will cost six figures across the two states, and it’s aimed at Hispanic voters.
Drought bad: The low water levels in Lake Powell have now declined enough that it could threaten hydropower production, the Republic’s Brandon Loomis reports. While Glen Canyon Dam can still produce electricity at current levels, today’s levels affect production and turbines.
The Great Resignation strikes again: Republican U.S. Senate candidate Blake Masters announced yesterday that he is unemployed. The Peter Thiel-backed wannabe politician dropped his jobs at Thiel Capital and the Thiel Foundation to focus on his run for office, Masters said on Twitter.
She’s got exactly one gimmick: Kari Lake continued her diatribes against the media by insisting she doesn’t care about the media, despite making her entire campaign thus far about the media. In an interview she posted a clip of, she said she would build the wall on both state and federal land, and she didn’t care if she’d get arrested for it.
Katie Hobbs @katiehobbsThe second woman ever elected to the Tribal Council and the first Native American to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Annie Dodge Wauneka was a member of the Navajo Nation and tireless public health activist in the fight against tuberculosis. #WomensHistoryMonth https://t.co/EF0JZHeYBv
To make a big deal or not: Brittney Griner’s detention in Russia continues, and the takes about how or to what extent to make a big deal out of what is clearly a big deal continue as well. It’s unclear if putting more sunlight on her arrest and detention will help or hurt her case and eventual release. Her family, league and U.S. officials helping her have been subdued, working strategically behind the scenes, thinking a low profile will not make an example out of her, the Washington Post notes. But in The Nation, Dave Zirin argues Griner should be seen as a political prisoner, and people should keep her name in the news to pressure a release.
Where we’re at with some bills: So many bills, so little time.
A proposal that bans books that describe sex passed the Senate Education Committee and awaits a full vote of the chamber after already passing the House
Three bills that target transgender people are still moving as a wave of anti-trans legislation takes root in Arizona and nationally
Previous years saw efforts to repeal Arizona’s English-only law, but no one carried that bill this year
Two bills focused on “parental rights” passed committees, but it’s not clear how they’ll actually work in practice
Teamwork: Officials in the U.S. and Mexico worked to break up a cross-border human smuggling operation, arresting six people who participated in the crimes across the Arizona-Sonora border, the Republic’s Clara Migoya reports.
Kids, they’re just like us: Six Arizona kids shared how the past two years of the pandemic have affected their lives and schooling, telling KJZZ’s Rocio Hernandez that they initially felt excited about missing a week of school, but that week turned into huge disruptions to their friendships and education. If you, presumably an adult reader of this newsletter, want to relive two years of pandemic lowlights in Arizona, the Republic’s Stephanie Innes rounded up 15 pivotal moments, from first case to more than 28,000 deaths.
“The textbook industrial complex”: As reliance on physical textbooks has declined, college publishers have found other ways to make money, like digital sales and online program management contracts they strike with universities like Arizona State University, the State Press’ Alexis Moulton reports.
We’ve never written so much about baseball: Major League Baseball violated Arizona’s minimum wage law by not paying minor leaguers adequately, a federal judge ruled.
You could soon follow a trail of historic dude ranches throughout Arizona and live out your “Hey Dude” dreams, if a bill soaring through the Legislature gets final approval.
A strike-everything amendment to House Bill 2398, sponsored by Arizona Rep. Tim Dunn, has not had a single vote against it yet in either chamber. It passed the House in February and got unanimous approval in a Senate committee last week.
The bill creates the Arizona Dude Ranch Heritage Trail Program and specifies what kind of dude ranches can be included in it. The specifications range from the length of time a dude ranch has been around to the fact that it must include the word “ranch” or “rancho” in its title.
Dunn told the House Land, Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee in February that tourists come to Arizona for a Western, cowboy experience, and the program helps promote that. The Arizona Dude Ranch Association wants the program created to help the dude ranches work together and promote the industry.
The Arizona State Parks Board will oversee the program. Dude ranches that are part of the program will become part of the heritage trail.
Today, we’re sharing an observation from one of our subscribers, who noted that Arizona doesn’t typically end up with catchy names for bills like other states do. For instance, Florida is currently debating a bill dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
In Arizona, it seems like our actual bill numbers become the way a bill is referred to, even notorious ones. Take SB1070 for instance: You still remember the bill number.
So, since we have a thoughtful and engaged audience who might have thoughts here, we’re wondering if this observation holds true to you. Can you recall any instances where a phrase naming a bill took hold in Arizona? If not, why do you think we don’t really do that here?
For what it’s worth, we prefer bill numbers, personally, because knowing a bill number can help you engage in the process and read the bill yourself.