The Daily Agenda: Third time is the charm?
Adel just can't win ... Suing the chicken farms is off limits ... And he's the most Canadian American we know.
Arguing the Arizona Supreme Court forced his hand with a political and flawed decision, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John Hannah on Friday delivered his long-awaited and possibly fatal blow to Proposition 208, the Invest in Education Initiative.
But before we get into Hannah’s complaints with the Supreme Court and his advice for education advocates, should they decide to keep this legal battle alive, it’s worth recalling how we got to what seems to be the end of the road for Prop 208.
As astute readers will recall, Prop 208 — which would have raised taxes on high earners to fund education — is actually Invest in Education 2.0 (though for obvious reasons, it wasn’t marketed that way).
In 2018, Arizona teachers went on strike and flooded the state Capitol with tens of thousands of red shirts, forcing Gov. Doug Ducey to up his initial offer of a 1% raise to a 20% raise. But that gubernatorial concession only covered one of the movement’s demands, so organizers collected 270,000 signatures to bring Invest in Education 1.0 to the ballot that year. The Arizona Supreme Court killed that Invest in Education initiative before it could even get a vote, calling it unconstitutional because it misleadingly described its tax increase.
Fast forward to 2020. Organizers came back with a new Invest in Education initiative, Prop 208. But two years and a pandemic after the height of the teacher protest, the movement had lost some of its momentum. Prop 208 still passed, but only by about 110,000 votes, or about 3.5 percentage points.
It has been bogged down in legal and political battles ever since. And schools haven’t seen a dime.
Kathy Hoffman @Supt_HoffmanSome may celebrate the court’s decision to overturn #Prop208, but the voter’s intent remains. How will we ensure our students have high-quality educators at the front of the classroom? How will we remain competitive when our neighboring states have increased teacher pay?
Republican lawmakers challenged the initiative, arguing both that it violated the spending cap on education, and, absurdly, that voters cannot institute a tax hike. The latter point was thrown out, but the former wound up at the Arizona Supreme Court, which said if the tax hike brings in $1 more than schools could spend under the cap, Hannah must declare it wholly unconstitutional. (It’s worth noting that Prop 208 only exceeded the cap because Republican lawmakers changed another education tax, Prop 301, so that it is not exempt from the spending cap, thereby ensuring some portion of Prop 208 funds would exceed that cap. Well played, guys!)
But Hannah clearly wasn’t happy with the hand the Supreme Court dealt him, and he offered backers of Prop 208 a roadmap to appealing the Supreme Court’s decision, arguing their ruling was flawed (it’s a spending cap, not a taxing cap!) and that the justices seemed to twist themselves in legal knots to arrive at a conclusion that gave lawmakers the upper hand.
“If legislators can find a legal flaw in a measure they disagree with as a matter of policy, their incentive is now not to fix it but instead to exploit it,” he wrote. “They can then point to the political obstacles created by their own opposition as a reason for the courts to stop the political fight and declare the legislature the winner.”
The court has already pretty clearly shown how it views Prop 208, and it’s not clear justices would even take the case on appeal, let alone veer away from their previous decisions. Backers of the initiative haven’t said if they plan to try an appeal.
But even if Prop 208 were to appeal and win, it’s not going to solve Arizona’s education funding woes. And the people cheerleading the decision — like Ducey and lawmakers — should instead be trying to figure out how to solve our state’s perpetual education crisis.
Sure, around $800 million in new funding for schools would help. But the bigger problem Arizona faces is that far too much of our school system is funded through gimmicky, temporary or unreliable streams of cash.
For decades, lawmakers have cobbled together band-aids to patch up a decrepit funding system. The system is held together, just barely, by competitive grants and temporary revenue streams. We’re facing another education funding cliff in the near future, as Ducey’s signature Prop 123 expires in 2025, leaving a $3.5 billion revenue stream dry.
Even the 20% raises didn’t solve the teacher pay and retention problem — most teachers didn’t get the full 20% raise, and other states have raised salaries, too, which is why Arizona remains near the bottom in teacher pay.
Without a comprehensive plan to refurbish Arizona’s patchwork system of education funding, we’re doomed to continue swinging from one crisis to another.
Always duke it out in the media: Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel gave a sit-down interview to Arizona Horizon’s Ted Simons, where she insisted she’s never been impaired at work. Adel also said her former mentor, Rick Romley, should’ve approached her directly about resigning instead of talking to the media, to which Romley then responded in a 12News story, saying she needs to do a ton of serious work to regain the public’s trust. Adel also said during the interview that her office placed the meme-loving judge on leave once she found out about the previous investigation into her, but ABC15’s Dave Biscobing revealed that that wasn’t true.
Hank’s story is great, says Hank: Hank published a piece in Politico Magazine about the impossible position Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich is in. He’s running for U.S. Senate, a race where Trump’s support could prove critical, while he’s also investigating bogus election fraud claims that Trump desperately wants to see perpetuated.
Need a flow chart for the fake electors now: Speaking of Brnovich, his office apparently did request information about the slate of fake electors in early 2021, despite his previous public comments directing people to raise complaints about this issue to the federal government instead, the Republic’s Richard Ruelas reports. But the AG’s office sought information on the group of random people who submitted a fake slate, using the state seal, not the slate that included elected officials and state party leaders. The Jan. 6 committee is still looking into the fake electors issue, while the status of Brnovich’s inquiry is unclear. It’s also unclear if there’s still an ongoing investigation at the AG’s office about these electors; one woman who signed told Ruelas she wasn’t contacted by investigators.
Piss off the entire electorate to satisfy the loudest, most conspiratorial voices: GOP gubernatorial hopeful (and longtime early voter) Kari Lake sided with the Arizona Republican Party in its lawsuit attacking early voting in Arizona as unconstitutional. As we’ve noted too many times to count, most Arizona voters cast ballots early, regardless of political affiliation, mostly by mail. Lake filed an amicus brief supporting the AZGOP case and asking the Arizona Supreme Court to hear it, saying she wants to restore integrity and blah blah blah.
Kari Lake for AZ Governor @KariLakeI am getting involved in the Arizona Supreme Court case dealing with Unconstitutional Election procedures. I urge the AZ Supreme Court to take up this case immediately. The people of Arizona have no faith in our elections. We must restore honesty & integrity https://t.co/xXxZQggX38
Your eyes don’t deceive you: The latest numbers confirm what advocates have been saying this year; the number of people living on the street increased by 33% since 2020 and now tops 5,000 people in the Phoenix area, the annual Maricopa Association of Governments count found, according to the Republic’s Jessica Boehm. And that’s almost certainly an undercount.
Arizona’s fastest-growing export: Politicians like Arizona Sen. Wendy Rogers and U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar pushed racist narratives and aligned with hate groups, helping to push white nationalism more into mainstream politics this year, the Arizona Mirror’s Jerod MacDonald-Evoy reports.
Speaking of Rogers: She used to be tamer than this, and her bluster is mostly reserved for online, the Republic’s Ray Stern writes in a profile about a woman who we’re all writing too much about.
Stern writes: “She generally doesn't talk to mainstream reporters and rebuffed attempts to talk with her in person at the state Capitol as well as email requests for an interview. Her manner of speech can be abrupt and offbeat.
‘I’m Senator Rogers. I sponsored this bill,’ she said at a recent committee hearing, introducing her bill to ban drive-thru voting. ‘This is basically no more drop boxes. Over.’”
COVID-19 isn’t over, but Arizona gave up years ago: Arizona has been in a state of emergency over COVID-19 for two years now, but might not be for much longer, Gov. Doug Ducey’s office signaled to Republic reporter Stacey Barchenger last week. The emergency declaration allowed Ducey’s office to do a whole lot of executive-ordering.
Open for business: A group of investors that says they manage billions in assets sent a letter to Arizona leaders last week saying that limiting access to abortions will hurt their businesses’ ability to attract employees, Bloomberg reports. The letter, instigated by a reproductive health firm, comes as the Legislature considers a 15-week abortion ban.
We’re taking credit for this: The Major League Baseball lockout has ended, and so too has our small stint as sports journalists. It was not fun for anyone while it lasted. Spring Training will begin shortly, as players started reporting to camps here last week. That’s good news for local and state governments and for all the workers whose livelihoods depend on these games. Now please, for the love of god, don’t make us write about how hockey/the Arizona Coyotes is also a government story.
If you can afford all these legal fees…: The company formerly known as Cyber Ninjas wanted the state Supreme Court to drop more than $2 million in fines for not turning over public records despite having months and months to do so. But the court issued a swift nope.
Withhold your laughs: There was an “election integrity” conference held in Phoenix this weekend featuring former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows and Arizona Senate President and audit queen Karen Fann.
As nearly free as … we forgot the rest: All three state universities want to increase tuition for in-state undergraduates, the first increase since the pandemic started (though some other categories of students still got tuition increases during the pandemic), the Republic’s Alison Steinbach reports.
Moms vs the world: Meet some Phoenix moms who are getting active to fight climate change, like by pushing for more shade trees and governmental action, in this New York Times’ Climate Forward newsletter.
What could go wrong?: Federal lawmakers want an investigation of a Immigration and Customs Enforcement led by Arizona officials that surveilled money transfers sent from people in the Southwest to Mexico, the Republic’s Rafael Carranza reports. Homeland Security Investigations officials in Arizona used millions of records from wire transfer companies to indiscriminately monitor transfers, justifying the program as trying to root out smuggling and money laundering.
Reflecting their community: Tempe’s recent city elections delivered what appears to be the metro area’s most inclusive city council, as Tempe residents voted for the first Asian American council member and the first Black woman member, the Republic’s Paulina Pineda reports.
Timely news for our next story: In this year’s first 1487 complaint, Arizona Sen. Warren Petersen complains that a Paradise Valley ordinance to crack down on short-term rentals serving as party houses violates state law. As a refresher, this law from 2016 allows a single lawmaker to start an investigation of a city ordinance and threatens to withhold state-shared revenue if the ordinance is determined to run afoul of state law. And if you want a super-deep refresher and summation of how 1487 has played out in the past 5+ years, you’re in luck: That’s our Friday deep-dive of original reporting this week.
Another local tapped by the Biden administration: Biden will nominate Roselyn Tso, a member of the Navajo Nation, to lead the Indian Health Service. She will need to be confirmed for the role and would replace an interim director in the position.
Nowhere is safe from rental problems: People in Nogales are experiencing the same sort of rental woes Phoenix-area residents are seeing, like long waitlists, limited options and landlords who won’t call them back, the Nogales International’s Angela Gervasi reports.
The illicit cactus trade: Cactus thieves exist, even though you’d think it’d be difficult to swipe a spiky plant growing in the ground. But they’re costly and environmentally destructive, and park rangers in Arizona know how to crack down on them, journalist Keridwen Cornelius writes for Phoenix Magazine.
Today in insurrection fallout: What is an arrest for your involvement in the Jan. 6 insurrection if not a chance to build your brand?
A bill that would limit the evidence a prisoner can use for a work-related injury sustained while on a forced-labor job as part of their incarceration is moving through the Arizona Senate after already passing the House.
House Bill 2328, sponsored by Republican Rep. Kevin Payne, says that a person who was injured while working for Arizona Correctional Industries can’t introduce evidence, if they file a lawsuit against the private company they did work for, that says how much the state paid for any medical services they needed because of the injury. That limits their potential payout in a lawsuit.
While most of the submitted positions on the bill were against it, the Republic’s Jimmy Jenkins notes that a representative for a newly formed nonprofit, Partners To Reduce Recidivism, spoke to support the bill in committee. Two of the new group’s directors are none other than the leaders of Hickman’s Family Farms, which uses prison labor and has faced injury lawsuits from inmates.
The bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this month and awaits a full vote of the Senate.
Kari Lake’s latest advertisement once again takes aim at the profession that made her famous, this time using her contrived viral moment where she shouted at 12 News’ Brahm Resnik last year and she accused him of being “despicable” for allegedly not saying the pledge of allegiance at a rally.
“The media isn’t just corrupt, they’re anti-American,” she says in the ad, before cutting to the exchange.
The ad wasn’t designed to sway independent voters or reach her base — she paid to air it during Resnik’s Sunday Square Off, which nobody who hates the media watches — it’s just a mean-girl troll on one of the nicest guys in the Arizona press corps.
Resnik is a Canadian immigrant who is adorably proud of his American citizenship.
Kari Lake for AZ Governor @KariLakeWe will no longer let the Crooked Media get away w/ lying to the American People. They aren’t just biased, they are anti-American—which is why we decided to run another Ad. This one will run on our friend @brahmresnik’s @12news political show & he makes a cameo! Check it out ⤵️ https://t.co/CGKbHBKa2G
But instead of striking back at Lake, Resnik took the Canadian approach on Sunday Square Off, explaining he respects her right to air ads criticizing him. But he also gave the backstory of the exchange, noting it happened at a rally where she was surrounded by adoring white nationalists and insurrectionists.
“I often tell my wife and sons, in tough situations, rise above. So that’s what I’m doing here today,” he said, before inviting Lake on his show.