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Closed Caucus

Well, they went and did it.

Your Arizona House, that body that YOU elected to make the laws of this-here state, doesn’t want you to watch the sausage-grinding that goes into writing the law.

The House voted along party lines today, with all the Rs voting “heck yeah,” and all them commie-pinko Dems voting “hell no!” to close their caucus meetings to the prying eyes of the pesky public

It seems that they want privacy when they’re twisting arms, poking eyes, and using anal feeding sessions to bully convince recalcitrant members to get with the Conservative program!

I mean, we can’t have the public witnessing such a messy business. Sometimes things get a little … raw.

Now, the Rs are saying this is no big deal. I mean it’s not like they ignore the will of the voter when they want to pass a law – except that they do, as has been shown time and time again.

And the Dems, well they’re saying they will keep their caucus open – as if anyone cares what they think.

Ah, so what? say the Rs who rule your Legislature. A caucus is just one tiny part of the process. There’s committee meetings (in which witnesses allowed to offer testimony are often limited to a loose screws that either wrote or “assisted” in writing some screwy “model” legislation). And then they vote – though funny things often happen after something clears the committee.

The Dems? Oh, once again those pesky wimps are  a minority).

Well, then there’s the votes on the floor, where everyone gets to stand up and ‘splain why they voted – after all the arguments are hashed out in … you guessed it … them closed caucuses – followed by beatings and threats that line up the necessary votes.

So when the Dimmocrats and their media comrades whine about an open process, why they’re just grand standing!

Actually the GOPers have a point, kinda. In caucus people get to mouth off, and reveal that they’re not on board. The torture convincing goes on behind closed doors.

So what do you people want? An open process? Why, that just complicates a stacked deck, and puts a little rouge and mascara on a hunk of pig that some lobbyist or Koch-connected organization has  already written.

So move along, people. Nothing’s changed. It’s the same old game, in which the (Koch) money talks, and everyone else can just take a walk.

Nope. Nothing to see.

Keep out

News Item:

According to Arizona Capitol Times (sorry, subscription required), the GOPer leaders of Arizona’s House “want to be able to meet and discuss legislation in secret closed-door caucus meetings.”

Well what’s wrong with that? Can’t a politician have any privacy?

I mean, the GOPer members of your lege just wanna be candid about legislative discussions! They don’t wanna worry about the things that others might think or say about them! It’s not like they answer to anyone … such as the people who voted them into office.

What’s that? Since you elected them you have a right to KNOW what they’re saying or doing when they make the law of the land?

Huh? DO YOU THINK THIS IS A DEMOCRACY? DON’T YOU KNOW YOU ELECTED THESE LEGISLATORS BECAUSE THEY’RE SMARTER THAN YOU ARE?

I mean, WHO THE HECK IS THE BOSS?

Oh. I guess it’s us, the people who elected them.

Well, it’s not as though they’re gonna do something we don’t like – or told them not to do.

Well …

The Infamous Proposition 105, the measure that prevents the Lege from screwing with a voter-approved mandate, was put on the ballot – and passed into law – because … the the Lege kept screwing with voter-approved measures.

Oh, but that was a long time ago! They don’t do that anymore!

Except that the whole stink about under-funding education is based on a voter-approved measure mandating that education funding has to be increased automatically to keep up with inflation. When times were tough, and the lege wanted to balance the budget (while passing new tax cuts for the rich), they ignored that voter mandate.

So they were dragged into court. And those libruhl judges told the lege that the law’s the law, and they have to obey it.

So why don’t you trust these guys? Why do you think it’s not a good idea to be able to listen to their deliberations on bills that they intend on adding to the law books?

Well, you can go back to sleep Arizona voters. Rep. Steve (I’m an ordained minister so you can trust me) Montenegro, who also happens to be the House Majority Leader, told Cap Times that “if Republicans do decide to limit access to caucus meetings, they would do so in a transparent manner [emphasis added].”

Got that? If they kick you out of the room, they’ll do it transparently.

I think that means every now and then they’ll open the doors, just to pretend that everything is open and above board.

There. Don’t you feel better now? I mean, what the heck do you people WANT?

 

 

 

 

AZ school savant

 

So who’s the dumb one? Diane Douglas, or we libruhls who made fun of our new Superintendent of Public Instruction?

When we were picking the next champion for Arizona education,  Douglas dove into the closet and stayed there throughout the general election. She even closed the door in the face of reporters who went to her house and tried to flush her out.

Everyone who had an IQ higher than asparagus was supporting her Dem opponent, who had sterling credentials. Douglas won anyway, because by the time most voters got to her race on the ballot, the forces of darkness, e.g. the money crowd tied to the Koch evil empire, had already primed voters to back Republicans.

She got carried into office by the tidal wave of misinformation and other sludge that filled our TV screens.

We libruhls immediately jumped out of our skins to warn of doom, gloom, and fears that a certifiable loon  would be in charge of edjumacation.

In the early days of her reign, the signals are mixed.

She continues to wage Jihad against Common Core, those pinko school standards cooked up by eggheads back in Washington.

But she’s made some good hires (and some crappy ones too). Douglas  extended an olive branch to the People’s Republic of Tucson by declaring there should be room for ethnic studies (well, kinda/sorta), and by creating a panel of ethnically savvy educators to explore ways to improve minority education.

And then, in an address billed as her first “State of Education” speech, she  opened her pie-hole and let some truth out:

“Too many Arizona children are not receiving the education they deserve,” she said, adding the revelation (at least to the Ducey crowd) that low-quality schools are bad for economic development.

Now that may be as obvious as the fact that we’re about to host the Super Bowl, but somehow our Cold Stones Governor and his legislative stooges keep failing to see that our schools suck – unless you’re rich, like Ducey, and can send your young’uns to a high-tuition private school.

Douglas ain’t gonna drink that “just give us vouchers” Koolaid. If our schools are so great, she asked, how come Arizona’s four-year high-school graduation rate is just 75 percent, earning it a D+ ranking in the “Quality Counts” report by Education Week journal. Oh, and how come nearly two out of three  high-school graduates need to take remedial classes in community college?

Now don’t get too excited. After all, she did let the crazy out. For example, while she came off semi-rational regarding ethnic studies in TUSD, she also declared in her State of Education speech that “[t]eaching children by ethnicity is academic segregation, reinforcing in young minds that somehow we are different and separate from each other.”

Yeah, she’s nutter than a bag of trail mix. But overall she’s been pretty perceptive for a right-wing loon. I know this is Arizona,  a state where we set truly low standards for elected officials. But when she’s compared to the overall herd of morons we elected, Douglas seems to see truth where others see … Tooth Fairy Math.

And that brings me to another obscure little factoid that slipped out of the cracks from Politico, an Inside Baseball tip sheet for the Washington DC beltway.

Politico stuck a probe up the … innards of all 50 states, using 14 separate measurements to determine how each state is faring these days. Those measurements included such things as each state’s unemployment rate, the percentage of residents living below the federal poverty rate, per capita income … and high school graduation rates.

So where did the land of cactus, cotton and crazy politics land on this 50-state measurement?

We’re 36th! We only beat out such garden spots as Kentucky, Georgia, Louisiana and good ‘ole Mississippi in the race to the bottom.

Yup, it sure is great here in sunny AZ. Our schools suck, our poverty rates are above the national average, saguaros have a faster growth rate than our job market, and if you do get a job, don’t expect to be paid a living wage!

Oh well, this is the gummint we selected as a collective electorate. It’s not how I voted … but why should anyone start to pay attention to what I think?

 

 

 

 

Brownback smells the coffee

I guess someone bought Kansas a clue, ’cause their beleaguered Guv is now allowing the “T” word (psst: ‘taxes’) to cross his lips. (someone needs to wash his mouth out with perfumed hand soap!)

Yup. Gov. Sam Brownback, the Kochtopus darling who is leading the national charge off the fiscal cliff, is finally admitting that his policy of cut-taxes-and-starve gummint is killing his state’s economy.

Unless someone does something about – pardon the expression – raising new revenues, Dorothy’s Home State (and her little dog too!) will have a $435 million budget deficit.

That’s because Brownback and his stooges legislative colleagues in Kansas cut personal income tax rates by 25 percent. Of course the biggest beneficiary of this largess were the rich dudes.

Remember that nationwide study? The one that found the poor pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes than the upper crust in every single state? Well, in Kansas, the poor fork over 9.2 percent of their income, while the rich pay 5.9 percent.

Of course it’s even worse here in AZ, where the poor pay 12.5 percent vs. 4.6 percent by the rich, but, well, what are ya gonna do?

Well, if you’re Sam Brownback, ya wanna catch up! Instead of raising levies like, oh, let’s say the INCOME TAX that impacts the rich, let’s target the kinds of sales levies that dump more of the burden on lower incomes!

Yup. Brownback wants to raise taxes on cigarettes and booze. It’s not so much that the poor smoke and drink more. It’s just that a few extra pennies make a harder hit on their meagre incomes.

Just to be clear, Brownback ain’t backing off his pledge to eliminate the income tax in Kansas. Nope! He and our own Cold Stones Governor continue to gulp the Koch Kool-aid. Let’s eliminate them income taxes!

In case it’s not clear to you yet, GOPers nationwide believe in cutting taxes that hurt the “job creators” even if it means that more than we working stiffs pay more taxes.

Don’t believe me? Well, as soon as news leaked that the White House Kenyan would propose middle-class tax cuts  – that would be offset on higher taxes on da rich – the Rs jumped out of their underwear to bellow their outrage.

“Slapping American small businesses, savers and investors with more tax hikes only negates the benefits of the tax policies that have been successful in helping to expand the economy, promote savings, and create jobs,” huffed Sen, Orrin Hatch, R-cranky old rich man from Utah.

So there ya have it. In case you haven’t figured it out, the Rs blatantly back the plutocrats. The Dems, well at least they say they’re on our side.

Whether they truly are, well, let’s see what they do when Da Prez officially unveils his plan in tomorrow’s State of the Nation speech.

 

 

College unfunding‘By their fruit you will recognize them.

Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?’

  • Matthew 7:16

 

Today we have seen the budget according to Gov. Doug “Cold Stones” Ducey, and the fruit is bitter indeed.

 

Know what’s really scary? The ruling stooges of the House and Senate seem to be in lock step. In other words this fiscal disaster is rolling down the track, and there ain’t much to stop it.

 

In keeping with the Orwellian “less is more” logic of his State of the State address, the budget from Gov. Ducey’s Cold Stones Crowd states that “education is State Government’s key function.”

 

Uh huh. I guess that’s why it carves $75 million out of universities, cuts community college support to a mere trickle – and uses some head-spinning nonsense to argue that they’re putting more money into education – except that they aren’t.

 

“For the past several years, the state the State and its university and community colleges have struggled to define their relationship,” The Duceyites proclaim.

 

What is the “definition” of that relationship? Well, the Cold Stone Crowd is telling them to bend over and cough. They are “redefining the General Fund’s capacity to a realistic level.” The new “realism” is higher tuition, fewer classes, and a university system that is being starved to death.

 

Community Colleges? State funding is already down to five percent of their total funding. The Cold Stone Crowd wants to cut it in half again – to 2.5 percent.

 

Remember when that Kenyan occupying the White People’s House wanted to provide universal access to two-year colleges nationwide? Funny joke, huh?

 

K-12 edjumacation? Well, they wanna put $23.9 million into a fund that will allow privately owned charter schools to purchase the bones of emptied out buildings from the K-12 system.

 

Cold Stone numbers: With one hand Cold Stones gives K-12 $134 more for classroom spending, BUT he also says he’ll eliminate “non-classroom” spending by $123 million, presumably by reducing administrative overhead. Net impact: $11 million more.

 

Here the thing, however: Cold Stones doubles down on a discredited claim that public schools are peeing away money on administrative costs. The Duce cited a study alleging high administrative costs. The study was disavowed by the pro-voucher Goldwater Institute. If even those dudes are saying the claim was bogus…

 

In fact Arizona public schools spend nearly 50 percent less than the national average on administration. The highly touted charter schools that the Duce thinks are so great? Their administrative overhead is far higher.

 

Nonetheless, the Cold Stones Crowd waves its Tooth Fairy Budget wand. Kazzam! Suddenly there’s more money for K-12 schools.

Tooth Fairy Math

Something else: The commie inhabitants of the southern part of the state really take it in the shorts. For years the state has been subsidizing school districts where the property tax exceeds one percent of a school district’s net assessed value. Translation. The state caps your property taxes if you live in a high-cost district. Most of them are in Tucson, th Tucson Unified School District in particular. State support will be cut by the Cold Stones Budget.

 

Oh, and there’s a homeowner’s rebate the state pays to reduce the impact of school property levies. That’s getting cut too. In other words property taxes are going up.

 

Oh,  there’s also this: Y’know that money – more than $330 million – that the courts have already said is owed to public schools because of a pesky law that the Legislature keeps ignoring?

 

Well, Cold Stones & Co. ain’t ready to pay it back. Not one dime. And the $1 billion or so that they probably owe as well? GET REAL, PEOPLE! Fuhgettaboutit!

 

Yup. Gloom and doom everywhere … except:

 

Surprise! The Cold Stone Crew wants to ask the private prison industry – you know, those guys who spend big bucks to back Republicans? – to build another 3,000 beds.

 

Let’s not even talk about social services. Actually it could be worse, but they’re taking hits too.

 

So. Let’s summarize:

 

  • Edumacation? Higher tuitions, almost no support for community colleges, Tooth Fairy Budgeting (that won’t work) to make it look like you’re putting a tiny bit more more dough into K-12. More money to encourage students to flee public school districts and enter the mostly for-profit charter school system.
  • Subsidies for taxpayers in high-cost school districts will go down. Many homeowners probably will have to pay higher tax rates.
  • K-12 funding. The Toothy Fairy is supposed to pay a visit, but this house of cards will collapse when cold, hard reality hits.
  • Social Services. Shaddup! It could’ve been worse.
  • Corrections? More money for putting lower-level offenders into the private prison industry, and more cash into the pockets of the guys who bought this gummint, unfair but square.

 

Oh, and we haven’t even talked about sweeps that  sweep about $304 million from various funds, including the Arizona Commerce Authority, which will lose $100 million. So much for attracting new business to this-here state.

 

Less money for highway needs t0o. Oh,and annual your vehicle registration fees going up.

 

So much for all the fertilizer about looking to the future, trying to create new jobs and leading Arizona into a brave new world of prosperity.

 

About the only other thing I can say is this. We voted this boob into office (I voted for Fred Duval, but that’s besides the point). Now we’re reaping the whirlwind from a really bad hire.

 

Screw poor AZ Voters

You hear it all the time: The tax burden needs to be fair.

Well, Arizona sure has a long way to go. Take a look at the chart above.

A report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy has looked at the total tax burden in each 50 states, and found that – guess what?

The poor get screwed. I know! I’m shocked too!

The above chart shows the impact in Arizona. We rank near the top when it comes to soaking the poor.

The report writers defined a “Terrible 10” states in which gummint reaches reach deep into poor pockets while leaving a rich purse is relatively unscathed.

Arizona ranks 8th among the “Terrible 10.”

Yay.

Our state’s lowest 20 percent, those earning less than $22,000, will have to cough up 12.5 percent of that in the form of all the taxes they pay in 2015.

The rich? Well, if you earn more than $402,000 a year in this state, you will part ways with 4.6 percent.

What about the rest of us? Well, the study defines the middle 20 percent as those making between $34,000 and $52,000. We’ll have to turn over 9.2 percent to all the layers of gummint that sticks their hands in our pockets.

Sounds fair, don’t it?

Don’t believe me? See the report for yourself.

Look at the numbers for Arizona again. Poor? Pay 12.5 percent. In the Middle? Cough up 9.2 percent. Rich? Well, if you good people don’t mind too much, can you pay 4.6 percent to subsidize the peasants?

How does that compare to the nation at large?

Well nationwide, the poor pay 10.9 percent. The rich pay 5.4 percent, so at 4.6 percent our state’s rich pay less than their upper-crust brethren.

Oh, and by the way. The “Terrible 10?” Most them are red states where the GOPers rule: Florida, Texas, South Dakota, Tennessee, Arizona, Kansas and Indiana. Also in the top 10 is Illinois, bluish-purple, and Pennsylvania, also purple.

To be fair, the Top of the “10 worst” is Washington, 16.8 percent to 2.4 percent).

Other true-Blue states? In California, the rich to poor spread is 10.5 percent to 8.7 percent. New Yawk? 10.4 percent vs. 8.1 percent. Massachusetts? 10.4 vs. 4.9 percent.

Why the disparity? Local gummints distort the the tax burden and take more from poor peoples. That’s because they rely more on sales taxes and excise taxes, the fees added to items like fuel, liquor and cigarettes. Even property taxes take a bigger percentage of income from families with smaller incomes, because if we own a house, it pretty much represents all our wealth.

Those castles up on Camelback Mountain in Phoenix, and the Catalina Foothills down in the People’s Republic of Tucson, are just a tiny crumb of rich people’s wealth.

Keep this in mind when the Lege loons start bleating again about an “unfair” tax system that can only be “equalized” if everyone pays the same income tax rate.

Oh, and don’t forget our “Cold Stones” governor, who keeps promising that he’ll reform our tax code until, on some sunny day, the income tax is eliminated.

After all, the income tax at least pretends to be fair. Therefore, let’s eliminate it and rely on taxes that really stick it to thee and me.

After all, that’s the American Way. And here in Arizona, we like to do even better.

Andys tree

Andy Nichols’ Tree

On the day that Arizona’s far right reasserted control of our state, I paid a visit to a tree planted in the name of Andy Nichols.

Nichols, a physician and unabashed liberal, was an extraordinary and unique individual. He somehow managed to get elected repeatedly to the Legislature back in the 1990s despite the handicap of being brilliant, kind hearted and libruhl.

The tree is just like Andy: tough but lonely, standing for Arizona’s native beauty, amidst a sea of manicured grass, large state buildings, palm trees, lobbyists, and other species that are not native to any Arizona climate zone.

Just a few feet away, a boisterous gaggle of lefties were loudly clamoring on Monday for legalizing marijuana and reforming Arizona’s perpetually overwhelmed child-safety system.

At the far end of the Capitol Mall, near a large monument to the historically towering figure of Carl Hayden, a coalition of liberal organizations tried to make their voice heard on the issues of healthcare, women’s reproductive rights, properly funding education and other righteous causes. Or as they put, let’s take the “crAZy” out of our state politics.

And inside Arizona’s halls of power, the conservatives who (unfairly) but squarely purchased continued control of our state held a celebration. They donned suits, fancy dresses and flowers. They happily listened to the very first State of the State address by Gov. Doug “Cold Stones”  Ducey.

And they paid little or no attention to the Libruhl losers outside.

Our shiny-new Guv told us to put aside partisan differences. To him, that means we should shut up, learn to play nice, and just suck it. The  Koch-funded dark money types are installing their agenda, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

A few details:

  •  In keeping with the spirit of George Orwell’s 1984, Ducey told us that war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength. “I intend to spend not less in our classrooms, but more,” he promised. Except for the pesky fact that he won’t put more money into schools. In fact he intends to suck more money out of public school districts so it can be stuffed into the pockets of privately run, often for-profit charter schools.
  • But he said he’d get more money into classrooms! Well, see, too much dough is wasted on frills like libraries, school nurses and special needs programs. In most cases all of that is not counted in Arizona classroom spending, so not enough state aid is actually reaching classrooms. The Duce says he has a “team of education and finance professionals (who will be) charged with scrubbing every dollar in every formula” to get more dollars into classrooms.
  • In a manner that would make Mario Puzo proud, The Godfather Ducey told school districts to “be reasonable,” on their lawsuit against the state – the one that the school districts have already won. The federal courts repeatedly told the state to pay a tab that is somewhere between $324 million and $1 billion, depending 0n the accountant you use.
  • Says Ducey: “Put this behind us.” No one honestly expects the state to obey the constitution or the federal courts, do they? Why start now? “[E]lected officials acted in good faith during the Great Recession to keep statutory commitments to education, while also keeping the state afloat,” he says. Let bygones be bygones. Or as we used to say back in Brooklyn, “fuhghettaboutit!”
  • The state is full of empty classrooms. That’s because so many public districts have lost kids either to demographic changes, or to for-profit schools. Well, let’s create a special state fund that can be used to transfer empty public school buildings to charters. In other words, now that the charters have stripped away the meat, let them cannibalize the bones too.
  • Let no nice-sounding conservative cliché go unused. It’s not that we don’t spend enough on gummint, says the Duce. It’s just that we ain’t spending it right (see above comments about charters).
  • Defer tax cuts that will add to a multi-billion state deficit? The businesses are counting on this money – except that business leaders have said repeatedly they want more investment in schools. Or as the Guiding Principles of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry say, “The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry believes that strong and modern infrastructure is essential to a healthy economy. The Chamber promotes policies that strengthen Arizona’s essential infrastructure, including education.” (Emphasis added).
  •  On Friday we’ll see that that means. This-here business-savvy Guv who made his money by screwing over creating investment opportunities for ice cream franchisees will deliver a copy of his proposed state budget to legislators on them-there fancy flash drives – those little doo-hickeys you fill with tons of words instead of killing several tons of trees.
  • The House Appropriations Committee Chairman already dropped a hint as broad as my belly. On Sunday Square Off, Rep. Justin Olson, (R-no money for you), said that the budget can be balanced simply by cutting two percent across the board. Except that there’s tons of untouchable categories of state spending. Take schools, for instance. The Lege has already been found guilty of violating their own laws – not to mention the Arizona Constitution – by ignoring mandates to K-12 education. And colleges? Want a good laugh? Look at the state Constitution’s mandate to keep college “as nearly free as possible.
  • So Olson’s “two percent” means “zero percent” for much of the state, and big hunks of pain for the rest – especially schools and social services.
  • What will be cut? Well, it ain’t gonna be the Department of Corrections. Private prisons, which gave money to Republicans, need to build more prison beds. You don’t want dangerous marijuana addicts running around your streets- do ya?
  • Social services! Yeah! What used to be called welfare is now known as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, aka TANF. Arizona already has a two-year LIFETIME limit on these benefits. Let’s make it six months! or three months!
  • Food stamps? Sure, most of the dough is federal, but lets save a penny or two by taking a few billion federal food stamp dollars our of the mouths of the poor.
  • Know what was unmentioned yesterday by our shiny-new Guv? Medicaid Expansion. A quarter-million people currently have access to healthcare, with most of the money coming from the feds. the rest is paid by the hospitals in the form of a surcharge.
  • The knuckle-dragging caucus in The Lege is suing our ex-Guv Brewer and everyone else to take this health care away. Why? The knuckle-draggers say it’s a tax, so it’s gotta go. The poor? They can hurry up and die.

So that brings me back to Andy’s lonely tree. I’m so old I not only remember Andy Nichols. I was part of his campaign committee when he ran for the state Senate.

At the time Andy’s daughter, Cathy Nichols, was running her dad’s campaign while also leading a statewide effort that expanded Medicaid coverage to cover more of the Working Poor. These are people who work hard but don’t earn much. At the time I worried that by splitting the efforts of the Nichols family, both Andy and Cathy’s initiative would fail.

Well, as usual I was wrong. Andy beat an incumbent Republican to win a Senate seat, and Cathy’s initiative passed too.

It’s been 14 years since Andy was found slumped over his desk in the Senate. He died while following his calling – making sick people a little healthier, and the poor a little less miserable.

So when I heard Ducey’s double-talk that spending less on education is more school funding; that mere trifles like the state Constitution shouldn’t get in the way of starving the poor so the rich can get more tax hikes; that keeping college tuition “as nearly affordable” by raising it even higher than it currently is …

I thought of Andy and made myself a promise. Maybe nobody, not even my fellow Pinkos, pay much attention to me.

But as long as I’m still standing, I’ll go down fighting this crap, just like Andy Nichols.

Welcome Per student funding 2014

 

Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Oct., 2014

 

Welcome to the topsy-turvy, inside-out world of Arizona Senate President Andy Biggs, the guy who likely will write the state budget for next year.

Biggs, to paraphrase a different scribe, is so far right he falls off the edge of a flat earth. He’s an attorney by training, but he doesn’t have to dirty his hands on actual legal work because he won $10 million from the Publisher’s Clearing House in 1993.

Yep, Biggs has his stack, Jack. Now tell your brats to keep their hands out of his taxpayer pockets. Y’see, “with our budget, we have said consistently (that) education is our most important priority. And so we fund it at a level we are capable of funding it.”

Oh, don’t listen to them commie libruhls who whine that Arizona is starving public schools. That’s just “dangerous and erroneous talk,” Biggs told a room full of business types Friday at a nice little luncheon sponsored by the Arizona Chamber of Business and Industry.

I have to wonder if business heads are still spinning from that trip to the Legislature’s alternate universe.

Andy is not the first GOPer to utter this nonsense. In that they’ve been alleging for years that sure, everyone suffered some pain back in 2008-09, when the bottom fell out of the economy.

Now, well, according to a report by Howie Fischer, Bigg says Arizona is spending more now than ever in the history of (white) mankind.

Huh? In what world is THIS true? It’s certainly not the facts in the world you and I occupy. Just see the chart above, compiled for an October, 2014 report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

To quote from that report, “At least 35 states are providing less funding per student for the 2013-14 school year than they did before the recession hit.  Fourteen of these states have cut per-student funding by more than 10 percent.” Arizona is spending 17 percent less, when adjusted for inflation. See the chart above.

Oh, that’s the liberhul voodoo! Why in actual dollars, Arizona is spending MORE, but if you play games and look at inflation…

Yeah, the lege doesn’t recognize inflation when it comes to schools. That’s why, despite a voter-approved mandate and a couple of court orders, the Legislature and our Guvs refuse to increase funding because a dollar just doesn’t buy as much as it did seven years ago.

The courts have ruled that Arizona schools deserve another $336 million – and counting. Some say it’s more than $1 billion, but they’re pinkos, so ….

Ya see people, the state just can’t afford to spend more! Nope! Maybe they can afford business tax cuts that will total about $5 billion by 2017! But that’s business! Jobs!

Except that Arizona lags behind most other states when it comes to GDP growth – but don’t blame the Legislature, says Biggs. Why the Legislature is pumping more cash into schools than the bilge pumps on the Titanic!

Only that ain’t true. Or as House Democratic (Booooo!) Leader Eric Meyer says, “The facts are the facts.”

Except when Andy Biggs says they ain’t the facts. And who are ya gonna believe: a medical doctor like Meyer who gave up his practice to dedicate all his time to education issues, or the guy who was lucky skillful smart enough to win $10 million?

 

 

 

 

Food Police Bust

It’s time for that annual rite – taking a look at dumb crap your Arizona Lege wants to put into law.

Most of these bills never see the light of day. Someone with a modest ration of sense – or political judgment – shoves it in the back of some drawer, where it will remain until the Lege adjourns sine die, and we can all breathe a sign of relief.

But that’s not always the case. If the bill makes life even more miserable for the poor, well, that just might find a little traction.

Enter one of the louder loons of the lege, Rep. Kelly Townsend of Mesa.

Townsend is a bona fide member of the Black Helicopter Caucus. A certified birth coach, she hates Medicaid expansion. She’s a self-described “evangelical Christian,” and a proud founder of a Phoenix Tea Party chapter.

She stands for Freedumbs from the heavy hand of gummint – unless you want to buy a Big Mac or BK Burger.

Townsend will be introducing HB2051 once the legislative fools convene next week. It would add fast-food or quick service restaurants to the list of places where you cannot use Electronic Benefit Cards, or EBTs, which DES uses to dole out food stamp allotments.

How do you define a “fast food” place? Pish-Tosh, you Hippie! Them-thar details can be worked out … down the road to crazy-town, aka the floor of the House.

In Townsend’s world, people burn off their Food Stamp benefits at fast food emporiums instead of buying healthy stuff, like packaged cereals, cupcakes or chips at the local supermarket.

Actually (don’t tell Townsend this!) EBTs are programmed not to pay for certain items – like beer or cigarettes – that are prohibited from food stamp purchases by federal rules.

Never mind that the skimpy food stamp benefits, known in bureaucratic parlance as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), are so tiny that even ordering from the dollar menu can deplete your monthly allotment.

Oh, and never mind, as Howie Fischer pointed out in his story, that some disabled folk have to buy fast food because they live in tiny rooms without a kitchen – or maybe because of some physical limitation they can’t cook for themselves.

Townsend’s bill plays to that right-wing meme that the poor live a life of leisure, buying steak with food stamps while the “good people” must make do with ground chuck.

It also fits the outrageous belief, noted recently in a report by the Pew Research Center, that the poor have it easy.

Oh, and never mind that the Townsends of the world want to get gummint out of our lives – unless it wants to enter your hippie bedroom to prohibit birth control, stand between you and your doctor if you’re a woman … or if you’re some rich welfare queen buying lavish meals at McDonalds.

That’s because corporations may be people, my friend, but poor people are lazy scum who need to be guided toward a life without sin.

 

Je Suis Bush

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