Sunday, May 31, 2009

Fitz illustrates AZ GOP feelings about school cuts

TUCSON -- Political cartoon by David Fitzsimmons of the Arizona Daily Star, which captures some of the 'spirit' I am seeing at the capitol from the Republican majority.

Check out the fair and balanced Democratic budget proposal for a stronger Arizona.

Friday, May 29, 2009

AZGFD HQ earns highest energy efficiency rating

AZ Game & Fish HQ goes green.

PHOENIX -- The new headquarters for the Arizona Game and Fish Dept. has earned LEED platinum status, joining only four other buildings in the state with that honor.

Good job, AZGFD. The state should be doing more to lead by example on making buildings that are more efficient, harvest rainwater, and generate more power from rooftop solar and small wind.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Dem budget guards education, has most support

Only 19 working days left to pass fair budget before end of fiscal year

PHOENIX -- House and Senate Democrats announced this morning a practical and comprehensive joint budget solution that protects children and middle-class families from deep cuts to education and from high tax increases.

With the support of Democratic lawmakers, the common-sense solution has gained more support among legislators than any proposal to date, and it meets Gov. Jan Brewer’s requirements.

“Democratic lawmakers’ comprehensive balanced budget solution lays the foundation for a stronger Arizona by protecting kids from deep cuts to education now,” said House Democratic Leader David Lujan. “Our proposal protects middle-class families from high tax increases and offers a more affordable, common-sense and smart solution that funds education and ensures our state’s future economic success.”

Democratic lawmakers’ comprehensive solution:

• Utilizes every federal stimulus dollar available to Arizona.
• Implements smart, responsible cuts across state government, including the House slush fund.
• Restores necessary funding to education and middle-class families to make our economy thrive.
• Responsibly generates revenue, while holding cities, towns and counties harmless from loss of shared revenue and protecting middle-class families from a high tax increase.

“It’s almost June and Arizonans are still looking for leadership in this time of economic turmoil,” said Senate Democratic Whip Linda Lopez. “Severe cuts to education and health care services are not the answer. We need real leadership that provides a balanced approach using program cuts, generating future revenues and utilizing federal stimulus money.

The Democratic plan meets Brewer’s requirements by making cuts, generating revenue, implementing tax reform and utilizing federal stimulus money. The proposal also deposits money in the rainy day and does not make illegal fund sweeps.

"This is the best possible budget during Arizona's economic crisis, and has the support of more legislators right now than any other proposal," said Rep. Daniel Patterson of Tucson. "Our fair and balanced plan promotes economic justice, helps business, and protects education and middle-class families. The governor and majority would be wise to listen and work with us now for a fair budget solution for FY2010."

Increasing the sales tax by one-cent costs the average Arizona household (2.7 people) $438 per year. The Democratic plan saves the average Arizona household $275 a year in state taxes.

In this economy, we will all have to make sacrifices, but we also can make smart and responsible decisions to build a stronger Arizona,” said Assistant House Democratic Leader Kyrsten Sinema. “Our budget solution makes cuts and generates revenue in a smart and responsible way that will get our state’s economy back on track, put people back to work and prepare kids for college and the work force."

The Democratic plan calls for a state sales tax decrease and broadens the sales tax base to cover things like spa treatments and maid services.

The Democratic proposal is the only balanced plan that reduces government spending while preserving vital services,” said Sen. Ken Cheuvront. “The plan broadens the sales tax base which allows us to reduce the state sales tax burden from 5 to 3.4 percent, making every day purchases more affordable for Arizona families.”

The plan also includes a local property tax increase to directly fund education.

“The majority of Arizonans overwhelmingly have said they are willing to pay their fair share to protect education,” said House Democratic Whip Chad Campbell. “This plan protects taxpayers from a high tax increase by implementing a smart and responsible one that directly funds education. Arizonans recognize that the key to our economic recovery and long-term stability is preparing our children to be competitive in the global economy.”

- adapted from Leg. Dems PIOs

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Luis Heredia good pick to lead Arizona Democrats

Luis Heredia

PHOENIX -- Luis Heredia is a good pick as new executive director of the AZ Democratic Party.

Luis is a family man and Yuma native from southern Arizona who I know. He is leaving a good position with Union Pacific and should be a strong professional and fundraiser, critical roles of a good ED.

My confidence Dems will make big gains across AZ in 2010 just went up with this news.

Congratulations, Luis, and thanks. I look forward to working with you more.

Congress meets in AZ on Colorado River issues

Dams on the Colorado River, southwestern US (click to enlarge)

TUCSON -- Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva, Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands will participate today in the House Natural Resources Subcommittee for Water and Power Congressional Field Hearing on the water quality of the Lower Colorado River.

The stretch of the River between Hoover Dam and the U.S.-Mexico border alone provides drinking water to 18 million people in California, Arizona, Nevada, and Mexico. Major metropolitan areas served by this stretch of the River include Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, Phoenix, Tucson, and Tijuana, Mexico.

Demand for the water will skyrocket as the population of California and Arizona is projected to nearly double between 2000 and 2050. Development along the River itself will reflect these numbers, exacerbating already serious contamination issues resulting from large numbers of septic tanks leaking wastewater into groundwater adjacent to the River. This has forced small cities along the River into desperate financial straits as they attempt to implement costly remedies that they cannot possibly afford without significant aid.

“The Colorado River is the lifeblood of the Southwest,” said Grijalva. “It not only provides drinking water and irrigation, it has provided unrivaled recreation and natural landscapes, such as the Grand Canyon. Population growth, climate change, and an already over-allocated water supply and now the worriment of past industrial and mining activities will stress the River in ways never seen before. We need to come up with a better solution for The River, before it is too late.”

"The Colorado River is in trouble, and that means trouble for all of us across the southwest and northern Mexico who depend on her for water and life,"
said Arizona State Representative Daniel Patterson (D-Tucson). "I appreciate the subcommittee meeting in Tucson and Mr. Grijalva's sincere interest in the river, a critical issue to the State of Arizona, our economy and quality of life."

Rep. Patterson is an ecologist who serves on the AZ House Water & Energy Committee.

- adapted from N. Luna

US Rep. Raul M. Grijalva and AZ Rep. Daniel R. Patterson
[Raul+and+DP-bw.jpg]
Sky Jacobs photo

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Rs leave most disabled kids out, add to deficit

Gov. Brewer's lack of leadership is harming AZ.

PHOENIX -- A special legislative session called by Gov. Jan Brewer to pass a Republican lawmaker’s bill will push Arizona’s budget further into the red and still leave thousands of disabled and foster children without adequate education and necessary services.

"With only 21 working days left before the end of the fiscal year, we are running out of time to pass a fair budget," said Rep. Daniel Patterson (D-Tucson). "It's unacceptable GOP leaders are wasting our time on a narrow special-interest bill that ignores most disabled kids and would worsen our deficit, rather than working cooperatively to pass a decent budget and trying to solve the financial crash threatening Arizona."

If passed, HB 2001 will cost Arizona taxpayers $5 million by establishing new corporate tax giveaways for contributions to a private School Tuition Organization (STO) for 375 students.

“We’re going in the wrong direction and adding more to Arizona taxpayers’ tab in tough economic times,” said House Democratic Leader David Lujan. “If Republican lawmakers wanted to help disabled and foster children, they could have chosen to not cut their funding in the 2009 budget and they could support a comprehensive solution that includes these children.”

In the 2009 budget cuts, Republican lawmakers slashed $91 million in funding for up to 18,000 disabled or foster children attending Arizona schools.

“House Democrats want to make sure that parents have a choice and that all of Arizona’s children receive the education and programs they need,” said Assistant House Democratic Leader Kyrsten Sinema. “The state already has an STO program to ensure that.”

The state’s existing STO program provides a tax credit for corporate and individual contributions to an STO that awards scholarships. No new legislation is needed to do this.

“Just a month remains to solve the state’s $3 billion budget crisis and Brewer and Republican lawmakers still have yet to come up with anything more than an outline or an unrealistic budget, but we are spending a week on a special session that only digs the budget hole even deeper,” said House Democratic Whip Chad Campbell. “It’s time for real leadership.”

- adapted from House Dems PIO

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day about fallen soldiers, not just party

Memorial Day history.

TUCSON -- Enjoy this long Memorial Day weekend, but don't forget this national holiday is about remembering people who died in wars.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Western dust storms speed snowmelt, drought

Western dust storms threaten public health and water supplies in AZ and other states.

DENVER -- Important coverage in today's LA Times about how a big increase in human-influenced dust storms is dramatically speeding up snowmelt in the Rocky Mountains.

'Ever since European settlement of the West, there has been dust, caused by outside forces breaking the fragile crust that holds undisturbed desert soil in place. Initially, grazing cattle kicked up the dust. Scientists say it is now more likely to be caused by off-road vehicles, mountain bikers or energy exploration. In a study last year, Neff found that the amount of dust in the Rockies is five times greater than before the late 19th century.'

"This is really the story of the wholesale transformation of the West,"
said Thomas Painter, director of the Snow Optics Lab at the University of Utah.

'Even without the dust storms, forecasters predict that global warming will reduce the soil quality in the western United States to dust-bowl levels by 2050, said Jayne Belnap, a scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey. The Southwest's temperatures are expected to rise by 10 degrees Celsius by 2100.

"It's just a harbinger of the future," Belnap said of the dust storms. "This is the kind of world we need to imagine we're going to be living in and decide if we can afford this dust."

- adapted from LAT

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Adams & Burns new PACs treasurer is anti-Tucson

New GOP PACs treasurer: 'I don't like Tucson'.

MARICOPA COUNTY AZ -- House Speaker Kirk Adams and Senate President Bob Burns, both right-wing Republicans, have started new political action committees (aka PACs) to try to help a struggling GOP keep its majority in their failing legislature.

Certainly the GOP will face many strong challenges statewide in 2010, but it seems Burns and Adams PACs don't care about southern Arizona. Their treasurer for these PACs, Hieu Tran of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, tweeted 'I don't like Tucson', at 8:16a on May 19.

To GOP donors in southern Arizona, why give money to a PAC run by people who dislike the place you call home?

The Maricopa County-based Republican leadership's bias against southern Arizona has been clear for a long time, but this makes it official.

Support and vote Democratic if you care about all of Arizona, including Tucson, Pima County and the south.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Next Patterson-Heinz-Lopez LD29 town hall Jun 27

Your LD29 team works hard at the capitol and brings it to you at our town halls.

TUCSON -- The 4th town hall meeting of 2009 with LD29 legislators will happen Sat. June 27, 2-4pm, Eckstrom-Columbus branch library, 4350 E. 22nd St.

I will be there along with my LD29 legislative teammates Rep. Matt Heinz and Sen. Linda Lopez.

Join us to discuss the state budget, education, jobs & the economy and your priorities. Help us work to solve problems. This may be our last town hall during this legislative session.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

AZ Economic Council challenges cuts to schools

PHOENIX -- View the new video on education cuts by the Arizona Economic Council. I and other legislative Democrats have all voted 'no' on cuts to schools and continue to offer balanced budget solutions that protect education. We'll have an updated balanced budget plan out on Thurs. May 28.

National Parks facing oil & gas drilling threats

Aztec Ruins threatened by oil & gas drilling; reforms needed.

AZTEC NM -- Most people think America's national park units are protected, but think again.

Read the story about Aztec Ruins National Monument, a world heritage site in northwest New Mexico which is facing on-going threats from oil & gas drilling.

US National Park Service officials are trying their best to mitigate damage from oil & gas drilling, but this situation highlights the harm caused by our addiction to fossil fuels and the urgent need for mining and drilling reforms from congress and state legislatures.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

SoCal utility pulls plug on bad AZ powerline plan

SCE's powerline push was bad for Arizona.

PHOENIX -- Good news recently that Southern California Edison has canceled, at least for now, plans for a giant new powerline across Arizona to feed energy in to California.

The controversial Devers-Palo Verde #2 line would have ripped across the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge and other fragile Sonoran Desert lands. The Republican-lead Arizona Corporation Commission had unanimously voted it down as not in the best interest of our state, but SCE was appealing and pushing the feds to overrule the state.

Thank you, SCE, for scrapping this unwise powerline proposal. America needs much more focus and investment on producing clean power in cities and towns, such as rooftop solar and small wind (aka distributed generation), which would limit the need for new inefficient and vulnerable big grid powerlines.

Monday, May 18, 2009

AZ Gov. moves for fed stimulus energy programs

AZ schools will benefit from energy improvements.

PHOENIX -- Following the lead of Arizona House Democrats, Gov. Jan Brewer has submitted the state’s application for the State Energy Program through the President Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to the U.S. Department of Energy.

"These funds are directed by federal formula to the states. I have chosen to direct the largest portion of the funds requested in this application, approximately $20 million, to the completion of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects for Arizona’s public schools," Brewer stated. "Investing in a modern and efficient infrastructure in our schools and some public buildings is the most responsible use of this significant one-time funding mechanism. Many Arizona schools still have inefficient lighting and HVAC systems, and this funding would create jobs by allowing completion of cost effective energy projects."

The State Energy Program Grants are awarded on a formula basis to state energy offices. As part of the ARRA, $3.1 billion is dedicated to these programs nationally with $55.447 million flowing to Arizona.

"As an ecologist and member of the Arizona House Water & Energy Committee who has pushed for expansion of efficient and renewable energy, I appreciate the Governor's listening and action here," said Rep. Daniel Patterson (D-Tucson). He was a leader on drafting the energy section of the House Democrats' Roadmap for Arizona's Future.

The State Energy Program is a 30 year-old program that focuses on energy efficiency and renewable energy programs and projects. These programs are the front lines of the country’s efforts to use energy more efficiently and increase the use of renewable energy.

read more...

- adapted from AZ Gov.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Go LA Lakers, beat Houston Rockets in game 7

Lamar Odom and Kobe Bryant.

TUCSON -- As always, I am cheering for the Lakers to win it all. First they need to overcome the pesky and good Rockets tomorrow in Los Angeles.

Other teams I like still alive in the NBA playoffs are the Denver Nuggets and Cleveland Cavaliers, but the Lakers are my favorite and consistently the best in the west.

Of course, as a big Lakers fan, I do not like the Boston Celtics.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Goodbye paper, good luck tucsoncitizen.com

Will the Citizen stay alive on the web?

TUCSON -- Arizona's oldest newspaper, the 138-year-old Tucson Citizen, will sadly publish it's last paper tomorrow. The Citizen is being shut down by owner Gannett Corporation.

I've long appreciated the staff, journalism and editorial page of the Citizen and they will be missed.

I hope the effort to publish on-line at tucsoncitizen.com is successful and competitive with the last remaining daily newspaper in town, the Arizona Daily Star.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Rs balance budget on backs of schools, again

Arizonans want schools protected and supported, but Gov. Brewer and Republicans are not listening.

OTHER VIEWS: Arizona Daily Star: State's education reputation at risk. Targeting public education to cut budget is harming Arizona's future.

PHOENIX -- Yesterday, in another rushed move resulting from a one-sided backroom deal, Governor Jan Brewer and the Republicans in the State Legislature are pushing bills to balance the state budget on the backs of schools, teachers and Arizona's children.

The proposed Republican plan closes the remaining $650 million gap in the state budget due to low tax revenues in the 2009 state fiscal year budget by withholding a monthly payment of $300 million, due to Arizona schools Friday, and using the funding as a “loan” to fill the state budget deficit hole.

“Arizona’s school budgets were already cut by the Governor and Republican legislators by $300 million earlier this year,” said Representative David Lujan, in reference to the budget plan passed in January by the State Legislature on a party-line vote and signed in to law by the Governor. “Now they are again balancing the budget on the backs of the schools by withholding an additional $300 million payment and raiding school fund balances. It is irresponsible and the public will be justifiably outraged when they find out about this.”

Additionally, the plan proposes to pay back the $300 million “loan” taken by the state from school funding in 2010 by sweeping balance funds from school bank accounts, penalizing schools that have exercised good accounting practices. School organizations strongly opposed the raid on school funding balances and expressed many specific concerns about implementation issues related to the “loan” of funding to the state from the school districts in the form of a “roll-over” payment.

“You can call this a loan, call it a roll-over, dress it up however you like, but the bottom line is withholding this $300 million payment with two days notice puts a terrible burden on schools and creates uncertainty for teachers and families,” said Dr. Matt Heinz, (D-Tucson), a member of the House Appropriations Committee. “The fact that the state can’t pay its bills doesn’t justify taking away the ability of school districts to pay theirs.”

Raiding the school fund balances will result in property tax increases in many districts.

“It’s not right to take taxes paid by property owners in support of their community schools and use that money to pay the state’s bills,” said Representative Kyrsten Sinema, also a member of the House Appropriations Committee. “Districts will likely have to increase local property taxes to pay for what these funds are obligated for. This kind of backhanded tax increase is not honest or fair for voters. We all know that revenue is needed to protect education, but these budget bills raise taxes while hurting education.”

The budget plan being considered was first discussed publicly yesterday afternoon and the proposed legislation was not made available to the public until late afternoon Tuesday.

"As a pro-education lawmaker with a daughter in public school, I am outraged the majority is ignoring our realistic alternative budget proposals that would protect schools and children," said Representative Daniel Patterson (D-Tucson). "With only 27 working days left in the legislature before the end of the fiscal year, it is critical the governor and majority leadership open up the process to all and get serious about producing a fair budget, but that is not yet happening."

The Appropriations Committee hearings, which are the only place in the legislative process for public input, were held this morning, giving school officials less than 24 hours to analyze the impact of the proposed legislation and provide comment or notify school districts of the potential of not receiving payment as scheduled on Friday.

“This continues the largest raid on our children’s education in Arizona state history, generated by the Governor and Republican legislature,” said Representative David Schapira (D-Tempe), also a member of the House Appropriations Committee. “There are other alternatives that could be used to address the remaining shortfall and, make no mistake, supporters of this legislation are making a policy choice to place the burden on schools yet again. There is no excuse for waiting until the last minute and not considering more reasonable options.”

House Democratic Whip Chad Campbell said he was disappointed to see that finally, when the Governor decided to engage, she chose to raid education funding.

“It is way past time for Leadership and it is disappointing that when the Governor finally engages with the legislature to address the budget problem, the result is a bill that places the budget deficit burden on schools,” said Campbell. “This just confirms that good, common sense leadership will not come from the Governor and Republican legislative leaders on the budget issue.”

HB 2028 – S/E: supplemental reductions; appropriations; 2008-2009, the bill that would withhold the $300 million payment to schools schedule to be paid on Friday passed the House Appropriations Committee 7-5-1 with Republican Representatives Vic Williams, Rich Crandall, Russell Jones, Nancy McLain, Richard Murphy, Andy Biggs and John Kavanagh voting “yes,” and all Democratic Representatives voting “no.” One member of the Committee, Republican Steve Court, voted “present.” Later the bill passed the full House with all Democrats, and GOP members Court and Doug Quelland voting 'no'.

HB 2029 -S/E: school district balances; allocations, the bill that raids school balance funds in 2010, passed the House Appropriations Committee 8-5 with all Republican Representatives voting “yes” and all Democratic Representatives voting “no.” Later the bill passed the full House with all Democrats, and GOP members Tom Boone, Quelland and Williams voting 'no'.

Governor Brewer is expected to unwisely sign the bills in to law today.

- adapted from House Dems PIO

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Pres. Obama, welcome back to AZ; visit Tucson

President Obama and Rep. Patterson in Mesa AZ, Feb 09.

UPDATE, 11PM: Text of President Obama's inspiring speech at ASU. It was a fun honor to be there.

TEMPE -- I will proudly help welcome President Barack Obama back to Arizona this evening at ASU.

Mr. President, please visit Tucson and Pima County next time you come to the Grand Canyon State. We have over 1M people and you actually won there. No doubt Maricopa County needs attention, but Tucson is the political and Democratic heart of Arizona, an important and changing big western state.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

LD29 team invites you to 3rd town hall Sat 5/16

Your hardworking district 29 team brings the capitol to you.

UPDATE, 5/16: Visit and follow RepPatterson on twitter. View AZ House Dems' fair budget at strongerarizona.com

TUCSON -- Sen. Linda Lopez, Rep. Matt Heinz and Rep. Daniel Patterson invite the public to a town hall this Saturday, May 16 from 10am to noon at the Eckstrom-Columbus Library, 4350 E. 22nd St.

“It is very important for me to be able to hear from my constituents so I can continue to help represent their interests as we continue in legislative session and the budget process,” said Sen. Linda Lopez, Democratic Whip. “We still do not have a finalized state budget for the fiscal year that begins in less than 60 days. This means that many entities funded by state dollars, like schools and services for vulnerable populations, have less and less time to prepare for the next fiscal year.”

"The Governor and legislative majority leaders must get to work seriously on a fair state budget. There are many options on the table and people need to be involved to get their legislature to act," Rep. Daniel Patterson said. "At our next town hall, I will continue to listen to my constituents' ideas about budget and revenue reform options, and take those views back to my colleagues at the capitol."

"Our most important job as a State Legislature is to pass a state budget," said Rep. Matt Heinz, a member of the House Appropriations Committee which oversees budget issues. "Protecting the interests of Tucson - its families, education system at all levels and business community - is my first priority. I hope that people in the community will take the time to attend the town hall and make sure their voice is heard."

Monday, May 11, 2009

BLM lets illegal motorheads harm Utah monument

Obama/Salazar's Interior failing so far to strongly protect American landscapes.

UPDATE, 5/12: Perhaps responding to public outrage, Interior and the US Atty. for Utah may be moving with a criminal investigation.

KANAB UT -- The US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) stood by spinelessly Saturday and allowed off-roaders to illegally mud-bog up a fragile desert river within the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in southern Utah.

The Salt Lake Tribune has some good coverage, including an editorial on the fairness and will of Obama's Interior Dept. under questionable new Sec. Ken Salazar, the history of the place and what happened Saturday.

BLM managers and law enforcement could've and should've stopped this. The 'illegals' responsible for violating the monument and Paria River, including Kane County Commissioner Mark Habbeshaw, should be arrested and fully prosecuted.

The complete failure of BLM and Interior to protect the monument is outrageously weak, and a clear sign this long-troubled agency and department have not seen much positive change. Selma Sierra, the anti-conservation Utah State Director of BLM, should retire or be fired now.

Public lands are owned by all Americans equally and must be protected from anyone who seeks to break the law to harm them, including 'locals' who claim our lands as their own to exploit.

I am outraged BLM stood back and let this happen, and you should be too. This land is your land.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Back open on twitter & facebook; Happy Moms' Day

Love Mom.

TUCSON -- I am back fully open on twitter and facebook. I had gone private for a while. Please follow me or add as friend.

Happy Mother's Day to my mom, my wife and all the great moms in my life and worldwide.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Southern Arizona Caucus seeks teamwork

Defend Baja Arizona. Note: I didn't make this map; found on internet.

PHOENIX -- 10 legislators from south of the Gila River met in the capital city again last night as part of the evolving bipartisan Southern Arizona Caucus.

Two Regents joined us and we talked about higher education.

The intent is to develop stronger relationships so members may try to stick together on issues critical to southern Arizona. This hasn't really happened yet, and may not, but I'm not giving up.

This was our third meeting of the 49th legislature. I am proud to have helped launch this effort late last year.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

GOP rejects fair options, OKs $700M education cut

Rep. Rick Murphy and AZ GOP continue to vote against education.

PHOENIX -- Republican lawmakers who have said education is their priority voted Tuesday for budget bills that cut another $700 million from K-12 and higher education, nearly three times the education cuts they made earlier this year.

Republican Reps. Vic Williams, Rich Crandall and Russ Jones all voted in House Appropriations to make even deeper cuts to education in Arizona after rejecting common-sense amendments to protect it.

Republican Reps. John Kavanagh, Andy Biggs, Nancy McLain, Rick Murphy and Steve Court also all voted to gut education.

“Instead of taking a stand against these deep and harmful cuts to education, these lawmakers chose to cut even more from our state’s future economy,” said Assistant House Democratic Leader Kyrsten Sinema, ranking Democratic Appropriations member. “When the future of Arizona’s children is at stake, now is not the time for partisan politics. It’s time for common-sense and responsible bipartisan decisions to create a stronger Arizona.”

The budget bills Republican lawmakers introduced include:

-- $700 million in cuts to education, including a $588 million cut to K-12 and a $111 million cut to universities after application of stimulus funding. The $588 million cut to K-12 includes a potential of more than $250 million of fund balances schools use for necessary maintenance and operation, capital outlay and soft capital like textbooks, technology and school buses.
-- A hidden tax increase after a $293 million raid on citizen-paid funding for cities, towns and counties. These funds are intended to pay for communities’ infrastructure needs such as street lights, roads and sewers. Cities and towns would be forced to fill these holes by increasing taxes for residents or increasing impact fees on businesses to pay for the missing infrastructure funding.

House Democrats offered 11 common-sense amendments to counter the proposed deep cuts to education, cities, towns and counties, 10 of which Republican lawmakers rejected in favor of the deep cuts.

House Democratic amendments included:

-- Restoring jobs to the Department of Revenue to seize $150 million in uncollected taxes to the state. The $150 million is unable to be collected because Republican lawmakers cut the department’s budget in 2009, forcing layoffs. Sinema
-- Using a $3 million House slush fund for the Commission on African American Affairs, the Commission on Indian Affairs and the Summer Youth Employment Program within the Department of Economic Security. Republican lawmakers refuse to use our own House slush fund. Rep. Cloves Campbell, D-Phoenix
-- Restoring $13 million to fund services to the developmentally disabled. Sinema
-- Eliminating a raid of $293 million from cities, towns and counties. As drafted, Republicans’ budget bills require Maricopa County to transfer $66 million, Pima County to transfer $17 million and cities to transfer $210 million to the state. Rep. Olivia Cajero Bedford, D-Tucson
-- Eliminating a raid of $250 million on balances schools use for necessary maintenance and operation, capital outlay and soft capital like textbooks, technology and school buses. Rep. David Schapira, D-Tempe

“The budget cuts to education that my colleagues want to make are devastating,” said Rep. David Schapira, D-Tempe (District 17). “We have so many other common-sense, feasible options just laying out there on the table. To choose to deeply cut education again, I think today we saw everyone’s true colors.”

- adapted from House Dems PIO.

Monday, May 04, 2009

GOP leadership may rush another bad AZ budget

A broad majority of Arizonans have made it clear they want education protected, but it seems legislative Republicans are not listening.

PHOENIX -- Republican lawmakers announced on today they would present budget bills in the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday at 10 a.m., giving the public fewer than 24 hours to review how much will be cut from education, cities and towns.

At first glance, the bills show Republican lawmakers still plan to raid hundreds of millions from school funding and cities’ and towns’ impact fees, similar to the unrealistic budget document they produced last week after months of secret meetings.

“The public deserves to have a say in deep cuts to education and programs that affect middle-class families during an economic crisis, but once again, Republican lawmakers decided to bypass their constituents at the last minute,” said House Democratic Leader David Lujan. “Transparency is no where to be found.”

The budget bills show so far:

· Deep cuts to education, including a potential of more than $250 million of fund balances schools use for necessary maintenance and operation, capital outlay and soft capital like textbooks, technology and school buses.

· A hidden tax increase after a $293 million raid on citizen-paid funding for cities, towns and counties. These funds are intended to pay for communities’ infrastructure needs such as street lights, roads and sewers. Cities and towns would be forced to fill these holes by increasing taxes for residents or increasing impact fees on businesses to pay for the missing infrastructure funding.

House Democratic staff likely will work throughout the night to prepare briefings for House Democrats and the public, who will have to race to review the bills just in time for House Appropriations at 10 a.m. Tuesday, the earliest time possible to schedule a committee hearing.

"We will continue to fight for a fair budget that protects Arizona's kids, economy and future," said Rep. Daniel Patterson (D-Tucson).

“It’s truly disappointing that our colleagues still refuse to be open and transparent with the public about a budget that likely will have grave affects on children’s education,” said Assistant House Democratic Leader Kyrsten Sinema. “What’s even more alarming is how quickly they plan to rush through a budget that makes these deep cuts. It will be interesting tomorrow to see which Appropriations members truly will stand up for education.”

Other options are available besides cutting education, as shown in House Democrats’ plan available online at strongerarizona.com. One example is using a $3 million House slush fund that Republican lawmakers refuse to use for unexplained reasons. Another is restoring Republicans’ 2009 cuts and jobs to the Department of Revenue to seize $400 million in uncollected taxes.

“The budget cuts to education that our colleagues want to make are unreal, especially when you have so many other common-sense, feasible options just laying out there on the table,” said House Democratic Whip Chad Campbell. “For some reason, they just seem to zero in on jeopardizing our kids’ future and our state’s long-term economic vitality.”

- adapted from House Dems PIO

Pima electeds ask Sheriff Dupnik to apologize

11 federal, state and local leaders today asked Dupnik to say sorry to south side residents.

TUCSON -- I joined a letter organized by my Congressman, Raul Grijalva (D-AZ7), voicing concerns with Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik's recent anti-immigrant, anti-southside statements. I respect Dupnik, but I am concerned with his comments and wanted to join other leaders in asking for fairness. The letter was sent to Dupnik today, and is included in full below.

Sheriff Dupnik -- Due to your long history of involvement and commitment to the entire community, we were surprised by your comments in the print media. Children attending schools, regardless of their immigration status, are not the cause of our problems, nor should we publicly target them. We have an obligation to protect those who cannot protect themselves. It is our responsibility to ensure that our children are always safe and secure. All children are vulnerable and we must protect them like they were our own.

It is wrong to force teachers and school administrators to become immigration officers. We remind you to uphold the law that was established by the Supreme Court ruling, Plyer v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202 (1982). This case established that children, though not citizens of the United States, are considered a “person” and therefore, protected under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

An additional cause of grave concern were your unsubstantiated charges that 40% of students in the Sunnyside School District are “illegal” and linking the Southside as the primary source of all crime in Pima County. These false charges are inflammatory and prejudicial. Your comments only further divide our community and debase a large part of the population.

The Pima County electorate trusted you to protect and serve our community, not to humiliate and instill fear. Every child is entitled to an education regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation and status.

We urge you to apologize for your ill-advised comments and join us in a rational and honest discussion about solving our problems together.

Sincerely,
Raúl M. Grijalva
, U.S. Congressman, Arizona Congressional District 7
Richard Elias, Chairman, Pima County Board of Supervisors
Regina Romero
, Vice-Mayor, City of Tucson
Adelita Grijalva, Tucson Unified School District Governing Board
Eva Dong, Sunnyside School District Governing Board
Daniel Patterson
, State Representative-LD29, Arizona State Legislature
Matt Heinz, M.D., State Representative-LD29, Arizona State Legislature
Linda Lopez, Senate Minority Whip-LD29, Arizona State Legislature
Jorge Luis Garcia, Senate Minority Leader-LD27, Arizona State Legislature
Olivia Cajero Bedford, State Representative-LD27, Arizona State Legislature
Phil Lopes, State Representative-LD27, Arizona State Legislature

Sunday, May 03, 2009

PEER pushes feds to release Libby mine danger info

Mourning Libby, Montana's dead and sick from toxic mining cover-up by WR Grace Corp., and lack of enforcement by agencies.

WASHINGTON -- A three-year push from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER.org), along with more cooperation for open government from the Obama administration, has finally forced EPA to release of details about mining pollution, injuries and deaths near Libby, Montana.

The Bush/Cheney administration had refused to release the information.

Although the report has finally been released, there are still serious concerns about EPA.

“Libby represents one of the most serious public health situations EPA has confronted but it appears that this agency is not close to being up to the task,” stated PEER Executive Jeff Ruch. “This report raises more questions than it answers, including why it was hidden from the public.”

I serve as Tucson-based Ecologist and Southwest Director of PEER.

Read more in the Great Falls Tribune, and at PEER.org.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

LD29 cinco de mayo fundraiser fiesta Sunday

Support South Side Dems Sunday.

TUCSON -- Join me and others Sunday at my seatmate Rep. Heinz's house to show support for the South-side Democrats of district 29.

LD29 party, Sun. May 3, 3-6pm, 840 S. Meyer Av. (south downtown).

Enjoy Mexican food, and your favorite beverages from south of the border. Food, music and fun for just $20 donation to LD29 Dems. RSVP to contactld29(at)gmail.com

Friday, May 01, 2009

Rep. Patterson on Arizona Illustrated tonight

Bill Buckmaster is the long-time host of AZ Illustrated.

UPDATE, 7pm: Watch it.

TUCSON -- I'll be a guest on the Friday night newsmakers interview on Arizona Illustrated, southern AZ's news magazine, discussing the state budget and other issues I'm dealing with as State Representative at the capitol.

The show airs this evening at 6:30pm on KUAT channels 6 and 27, and again at midnight.

I welcome this May Day as I continue to work for economic justice. Today, in addition to the TV show, I will visit a Tucson school and tour Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, both in my district 29.