Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Congress hearing Utah Red Rock wilderness bill Thu

Congress should protect Utah wilderness.

WASHINGTON -- Good news. My Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ7) chairs the important and influential US House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, and tomorrow his subcommittee will hear HR1925, America's Red Rock Wilderness Act, to protect scenic and fragile public lands in southern Utah as wilderness.

Read more about the bill from Robert Redford.

Also visit the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

AZ #2 on prison/cops spending, near last on schools

Callous Republicans harm AZ.

TUCSON -- New US Census data released today shows Arizona's harmful GOP-run legislature has put us at #2 for the most spending on prisons and police, but near the bottom for our support of education.

We get what we pay for.

This is totally unacceptable, and as a concerned State Representative I am committed for the long-haul for better support of our children, schools and collective future.

For breaking news & views and other tidbits, please follow RepPatterson on twitter.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

US State Dept moves against rogue border agency

Bush man Bill Ruth still in charge at rogue USIBWC, but has abruptly departed on personal leave.

EL PASO -- In an update on a story first covered here last month, the US State Dept has swooped down on rogue border agency United States Section, International Boundary and Water Commission (USIBWC), after my org PEER exposed abuses & fraud.

Ruth's gross mismanagement has put the people and environment of Nogales, Arizona and the Santa Cruz River particularly at risk.

Monday, September 28, 2009

2010 re-election campaign progress; still time

Follow RepPatterson on twitter.

TUCSON -- My friends, I'm happy to report our fundraising efforts for my 2010 LD29 re-election campaign have started strong.

Big thanks to everyone who has already supported. If you haven't already, there is still time and we ask for your help.

Donate $140 max to Daniel Patterson for AZ, POB 172, Tucson AZ 85702. Thanks!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Stimulating colleges; Tucson jobs; LD29 healthcare

Dr. Roy Flores (left) is President of Pima Community College.

TUCSON -- In addition to helping build a new veterans home here, US stimulus funds have just been released by the state to help community colleges in Arizona. Pima Community College will receive $4.5M as a part of $9M distributed to colleges statewide.

The state still has $19M in fed stimulus money to grant to colleges.

This is public money well spent to invest in our future as a society, to help our economy and quality of life.

In a brief update on State Rep work, today I toured and helped open a huge new product distribution center in LD29 of southeast Tucson, which brings hundreds of decent jobs with benefits.

I also joined my district teammates on a tour and discussion at the new El Rio southeast side health clinic, at Golf Links and Kolb near Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. Nice facility and the El Rio staff does a good job for people. El Rio is one of the largest and best community health clinic systems in the nation.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Budget delay is reckless new precedent for Arizona

PHOENIX -- Read here my new column as published today in the capitol media.

Arizona Guardian -- Sep 23 09

Budget? What budget? GOP plan still doesn't cut it (subscription)

by Rep. Daniel Patterson

Soon it will be three months since the state’s budget deadline has passed and Arizona still doesn’t have a budget or much of an economy. Some of us have been trying all year to help, but unfortunately, Arizona families probably won’t see this problem resolved soon.

Republican lawmakers and Gov. Jan Brewer still are at a standoff with each other and refuse to work in a bipartisan way to finally seal the deal. For eight months, Democrats asked Brewer multiple times to be included in crafting a bipartisan budget, but she and Republicans refused.

In an attempt to reach a bipartisan compromise after Brewer called bipartisan talks at the eleventh hour, Democratic leadership offered significant tough compromises, which can be found at strongerarizona.com.

But Brewer and majority Republicans refused to take even one step toward bipartisanship. Arizonans just wanted a full budget so our state's economy could begin the road to recovery, but it's the end of summer, and Brewer and Republicans still didn't get the job done.

The legislature has one specific constitutional duty — to pass a budget — and this year, the GOP-run legislature has failed. This lack of leadership at the helm is frustrating and disappointing, and it only drives Arizona’s troubled economy into a deeper hole.

Instead of helping to create more jobs, the state is laying off hard-working people trying to support middle-class families. Instead of jump-starting economic recovery, Arizona has taken a u-turn into further debt. Instead of investing in education, Arizona is now ranked last nationwide in education funding. Instead of working with Democrats, Brewer and Republicans unwisely decided to go it alone and failed. The entire state is suffering due the inability of Republicans, who control the legislature and governor's office, to agree and finish a balanced budget.

We are at greater economic risk with no budget in place and it is irresponsible to let this continue to drag on. Some state agencies will be in danger of losing their funding by October; we can’t be sure which ones yet.

People are already suffering from some of the cuts. Brewer chose to sign a Republican budget that eliminates KidsCare Parents, or health care for 10,000 Arizona parents. Brewer also chose to sign a budget that eliminates domestic partner benefits for state employees, which will eliminate these benefits for about 800 families.

The current budget also preempts local control of cities and removes protections and notice requirements for teachers subject to layoffs created by budget deficits.

All of this Republicans passed and Brewer signed when Arizonans need these services the most – in tough economic times. With her vetoes and lack of a long-term, stable revenue plan, Brewer also left the state $1 billion out of balance. The Republicans’ budget relies heavily on “iffy” maneuvers like selling state buildings and privatizing prisons.

The “funny” money is not guaranteed to come close to solving the state deficit. Brewer signed some of the bad budget bills, but even that and the plan she was willing to support both leave a long-term deficit.

The problem still is not solved; therefore, the deficit still remains. Amazingly, there is still time to work on a bipartisan budget for a stronger Arizona. As an independently minded, fiscally responsible Democratic state representative, I remain ready and willing to do the hard work to balance Arizona's budget in a fair way for Arizona families.

Republican lawmakers’ and Brewer’s eight-month delay without a balanced budget in place is a reckless new precedent for Arizona. It is a guaranteed economic mess for the future, but it’s better late than never to correct the problem.

For more information on a comprehensive, more responsible budget solution, please visit strongerarizona.com.

Rep. Daniel Patterson of Tucson is a Democrat representing District 29.

AZ lawmakers urge caution on Grand Canyon mine

Working to protect the Grand Canyon region from uranium mining pollution.

FLAGSTAFF AZ -- Arizona lawmakers weighed in Wednesday to federal officials in support of a new study that would assess if it is safe to operate a uranium mine near the Grand Canyon.

Environmental consequences of the Arizona 1 uranium mine have not been assessed since 1988 —more than 20 years ago — and operating the mine could mean contaminating the water and air, sabotaging the reintroduction of the California condor and making extinct already endangered fish species. Toxins from uranium mining also have caused public health dangers including cancer and kidney damage.

“Interior Secretary Salazar made a wise move to put a hold on new mining claims and carefully study the environmental harm uranium mining could have on the Grand Canyon region and people downstream,” said Rep. Daniel Patterson, an ecologist and member of the House Water and Energy Committee. “We are troubled by Gov. Brewer's reckless rush to direct ADEQ to hand out uranium mining permits, and the effects these actions will have on public health, water and the environment.”

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, following Brewer’s direction to speed up the regulatory process, this month issued permits to Denison Mines Corporation Arizona 1 mine before a new federal study to determine the safety of operating a mine there could be completed. Several environmental groups also have said they intend to file a lawsuit if a study is not completed.

The study, or an Environmental Impact Statement, provides detailed information of significant environmental impacts and the reasonable alternatives that would avoid or minimize adverse impacts or enhance the quality of the human environment. The study is used by federal officials to plan actions and make decisions.

“If there is a question of danger to public health and harming families’ quality of life, I think we definitely need some answers before the mine begins and we end up spending millions on its possible devastating effects,” said Rep. Nancy Young Wright.

“The communities of Northern Arizona have legitimate concerns for their safety and the potential dangers of operating a uranium mine so close to home,” said Rep. Tom Chabin, of Flagstaff and northern Arizona. “It is incredibly important to study how these potentially harmful effects of uranium mining can have on Northern Arizona families’ health and livelihood.”

Lawmakers letter to feds available on request.

In support of choice and smarter state priorities

Rep. Barto and other anti-choice activists fight for fetuses, but usually don't vote to support children or parents.

UPDATE, 5p Sep 29: Court blocks key part of new abortion law.

TUCSON -- I am active today in the Arizona media in support of women's freedom of choice and smarter legislative priorities.

The controversy relates to anti-choice legislation passed this year by Rep. Nancy Barto (R-Phoenix-LD7) and other social radicals at the Capitol, and signed in to law by Gov. Jan Brewer (R-Glendale).

Arizona Daily Wildcat: Law could limit access to Plan B

A new Arizona law could reduce the availability of emergency contraception medication for women on campus and in the community.

The law, signed in July and set to take effect Sept. 30, will set up a series of policies that... critics say will cause women undue stress and complicate an already delicate issue.

...Democratic Rep. Daniel Patterson, who represents downtown (south) and southeast Tucson, says the law will change things. Pharmacy employees have a professional obligation to provide medications like Plan B, regardless of their beliefs, he says.

“If you have a problem providing some kind of legally approved, FDA approved medication, then you’re in the wrong profession,”
he said.

The legislative majority’s focus on social issues during the economic crisis is an out-of-touch priority, he said.

“(The legislature) can pass a bill to attack women’s rights for reproductive choices, but we can’t get a budget done,”
Patterson said. “It’s totally unacceptable.”

On Sept. 14 Planned Parenthood Arizona sued the state over the law, citing what its Chief Operating Officer Patti Caldwell called “legislators stepping in to medical procedures, which is certainly not their area of expertise.”

Religious studies senior and Women’s Resource Center official Malia Uhatafe said state-mandated restrictions do more harm than good.

“It’s ridiculous,”
she said. “It’s taking away our freedom of choice.”

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tucson Veterans Home OKd; will serve 120+ vets

The new vets home will be built near the VA in LD29 south of downtown.

Sep 24: Arizona Daily Star editorial; ASU Cronkite News Service. Sep 25: Yuma Sun

TUCSON -- I'm proud to announce, as a pro-veteran lawmaker and member of the Arizona House Military Affairs Committee, the Tucson Veterans Home was approved today by Arizona's Joint Committee on Capital Review.

The $29M veterans home in LD29 near the VA hospital will serve and house 120-200 needy veterans in southern Arizona.


The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act expedited a federal grant essential to project approval. Arizona received funding from the federal VA for 65% of the new construction cost of the facility.

LD29 lawmakers to tour new SE Tucson El Rio clinic

El Rio clinics help people.

TUCSON -- Sen. Linda Lopez, Rep. Matt Heinz and Rep. Daniel Patterson will be touring the new Southeast El Rio Community Health Center on Friday, Sept. 25 at 3pm at 6950 East Golf Links Road, Tucson. Media is welcome to join the tour.

"I am always interested in helping people with real solutions to our health care needs," Rep. Daniel Patterson said. "Arizona and the US need health insurance reform so all Americans can access quality health care whenever needed. El Rio has an honorable track record in Tucson of helping to make good health care accessible to all, including the uninsured."

“El Rio Community Health Centers serve as a vital health care component for the Tucson area, especially with rising health care costs and uninsured persons,” said Sen. Linda Lopez, Democratic Whip. “With recent state budget cuts to just over 10,000 people from the state’s health insurance statewide, we expect more people look toward centers such as these for primary health care coverage.”

"Access to primary and preventive medical care is an absolute imperative," said Rep. Matt Heinz, who is also a physician at Tucson Medical Center. "As a physician legislator, it is important to me to see how our health care facilities function together for the benefit of the community. It is critical that we find what works well and duplicate those processes."

The ground-breaking ceremony was held on December 16, 2008, and Rep. Patterson helped cut the ribbon when the facility recently opened in early August 2009. The non-profit El Rio Community Health Center serves the Tucson community by offering primary medical and dental care to more than 74,000 people annually. According to El Rio, the clinics serve over 1,000 people per day and in 2008, 75% lived at or below the federal poverty level and over 33,089 enrolled patients were children.

Monday, September 21, 2009

US goes to UN with empty bag on global warming

WASHINGTON -- On the eve of President Obama's address to the United Nations climate summit, a new video by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency experts challenges the efficacy of the 'Waxman-Markey' bill plan for controlling global warming pollution. The experts' video adds to growing scientific and economic skepticism about relying upon cap & trade schemes for addressing climate change, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).



Read more...

Additional details on why 'cap & trade' won't work...

Friday, September 18, 2009

PARK(ing) Day welcomes you to hit the road

Reclaiming streets near University of Arizona, 2008.

TUCSON -- Today is PARK(ing) Day worldwide. PARK(ing) Day is an annual, one-day global event where artists, activists and citizens collaborate to temporarily transform metered parking spots into “PARK(ing)” spaces: temporary public parks.

I enjoyed this event last year and plan to quick check it out today downtown on my bike.

Reclaiming paved urban wastes for beneficial uses is a good idea. We need more parks.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Guzzlers fail to help bighorn at Kofa wildlife refuge

Out-of-touch gov't agencies fail to understand or serve bighorn needs.

YUMA AZ -- Remote cameras installed to detect bighorn sheep use at two controversial man-made water developments constructed in the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge wilderness in 2007 suggest the tanks have completely failed to provide water for bighorns.

The cameras, installed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service at the McPherson and Yaqui Tanks, failed to capture a single bighorn drinking from the tanks in the two years since their construction.

Bighorn avoidance of these tanks is part of a disturbing failure of Arizona Game and Fish and the US Fish and Wildlife Service to understand critical needs of bighorn on the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge.

read more...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

TEP wise to prefer degraded land for big solar

750-kilowatt solar power system at Global Solar’s manufacturing facility in southeast Tucson, LD29.

TUCSON -- Southern Arizona's big electric utility, UniSource's (UNS) Tucson Electric Power, is looking to build a big solar plant near the city.

"Our hope is that these systems would be located on land that would not be used for other purposes," said TEP spokesman Joe Salkowski. "A closed landfill would be a good example of the sort of land we'd like to use."

As an ecologist and member of the Arizona House of Representatives Water and Energy Committee, I still prefer distributed solar power generation on existing rooftops. Nevertheless, for big solar I'm pleased TEP seems to be wisely looking for sites on already disturbed lands.

Other utilities are making enemies and controversial mistakes, especially in Nevada and California, by trying to locate big solar on important desert wildlife habitat.

Monday, September 14, 2009

False EPA study claim on playground tire crumb risk

Lisa Jackson, EPA Administrator.

WASHINGTON -- Contrary to its public statements, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is not conducting studies on potential health effects to children from contact with shredded tires on playgrounds, according to correspondence released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

Despite serious concerns raised by its own scientists about health risks to children, the agency continues to endorse use of ground rubber (called “tire crumb”), on playgrounds without examining the extent of childhood exposure from ingestion or inhalation of toxic chemicals found within tires.

read more...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

AZ at risk with no budget from GOP for months

AZ Senate Pres. Bob Burns, Gov. Brewer & GOP have failed Arizona.

PHOENIX -- Monday will be the 76th day of fiscal year 2010 with still no state budget in place, and it's looking like that measure of delay will go a lot higher. The entire state is suffering due the inability of Republicans, who control the legislature and governor's office, to agree and finish a balanced budget.

Saturday night at the UA-NAU game a member the legislative majority (GOP) leadership told me it 'will be a while, maybe a long time' before we return in special session to solve the budget. It may not even happen this year.

The state is at greater economic risk with no budget in place and it is irresponsible to let this continue to drag on. As an independent-minded Democratic State Representative from Tucson, I remain ready and willing to do the hard work and compromise to balance Arizona's budget in a fair way for our people.

Read the details of some budget compromise proposals from the House Democratic Caucus.

The GOP's months long delay without a balanced budget in place is a reckless new precedent for Arizona. Watch for more expensive overdue legislative sessions in 2010 and beyond.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Pima Comm. College & clean energy economy jobs

Pima's east campus in southeast Tucson, LD29.

TUCSON -- Good news as Pima Community College is investing in training more people for clean energy economy jobs.

PCC is pursuing a $3.5M agreement with the US Dept. of Energy to open the Solar Installation Trainers and Resource Institute.

Pima will also receive $4.52M in federal stimulus funds to help cover FY09 costs.

I am a big supporter of community colleges and PCC.

Also today, Patriot Day, remember the 9/11 fallen. May we all work for less hatred, greed and violence in the world.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Amargosa toad hops toward protection in Mojave

32 years is too long to wait.

OTHER COVERAGE, Sep 11: Las Vegas Review-Journal, AP, Las Vegas Sun.

LAS VEGAS — In response to a February 2008 scientific petition submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, or PEER, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that it is launching a full status review to determine whether the Amargosa toad warrants protections under the Endangered Species Act. Among the many threats to the toad are loss of habitat from development, harm from off-road vehicle use, groundwater depletions caused by mining, possible poorly sited solar-energy development, and harm from nonnative species such as crayfish and bullfrogs.

“The Amargosa toad has been known to warrant protection as an endangered species since 1977,” said Rob Mrowka, an ecologist and conservation advocate with the Center. “We are very pleased that the toad is one step closer to the protection it needs to survive.”

The Amargosa toad is only found in a short segment of the Amargosa River in the Mojave Desert near Beatty, Nevada, where springs create marsh and riparian habitat required by the toad. It is isolated from other toad species by at least 35 miles, making it a unique endemic species.

“Since these toads were first recognized as needing protection, threats to them have only increased,”
said Mrowka. “A growing human population, increased demand for water, and climate change place the toad in immediate danger of extinction.”

Groundwater developments pose a significant threat to the continued existence of the Amargosa toad. The Nevada state engineer, in Ruling 4669, has found that there is a high degree of interconnectivity between groundwater and surface water in the Oasis Valley basin. State law currently allows residents to pump up to 1,800 gallons per day from the groundwater aquifer without a permit, leading to unmeasured burdens on the aquifer. The Reward Mine and proposed solar-energy projects further add to the groundwater demands, all in a basin the state engineer has previously found to be over-appropriated. Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Energy filed groundwater applications in the Oasis Valley for the Yucca Mountain project. The Center protested these applications on behalf of the toad.

“The good news is the Amargosa toad will get a fresh look for stronger protection, but the bad news is the toad and its Amargosa River habitat are not doing well after 32 years of delaying full conservation,” said Daniel Patterson, ecologist and Southwest director of PEER, who formerly worked with the Bureau of Land Management in the Mojave Desert. “Endangered Species Act listing for the toad should be welcomed, not feared, as it will finally bring long-overdue focus and resources to protect and recover the toad, and the rich scenic landscape it inhabits, for future generations and a stronger desert web of life.”

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Help Rangers find San Pedro River deer poacher

Examining wildlife crime evidence.

TUCSON -- The Arizona Game and Fish Department is asking for the public's help in finding who's responsible in the illegal killing of a white-tailed deer over Labor Day weekend.

Authorities say the mature buck was shot Saturday with a high-powered rifle from a vehicle on High Knolls Road, just east of Sierra Vista near the San Pedro River and BLM Riparian National Conservation Area.

Rangers say callers are eligible to receive a reward of up to $1,500 for information leading to the arrest of the person or persons responsible for killing the deer.

If you know anything that could help solve this crime, please call Operation Game Thief at 800.352.0700 or the Tucson AZGFD office at 520.628.5376. You can remain confidential.

- adapted from AP

AZ company in deal with China for big solar plant

Oasis in Inner Mongolian desert.

TEMPE AZ -- First Solar, an Arizona company (FSLR), signed an agreement yesterday with the city of Ordos, China to build a 2,000-megawatt solar photovoltaic power plant, said Michael J. Ahearn, First Solar's chairman and chief executive. The sprawling project in the Inner Mongolian desert would be the company's first in Asia and its largest outside the US.

I'm glad to see China doing more for clean energy and working with Arizona firms. Hopefully they will both also just as strongly pursue the clear benefits of rooftop solar in cities where most power is used, not just desert-hogging projects in remote places.

Read more from LA Times Business...

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Support Patterson's re-election as LD29 State Rep.

Rep. Patterson working to help Tucson's kids, schools and middle-class families.

OTHER COVERAGE, Sep 14: Tucson Citizen.com

TUCSON -- Many of you have asked how you can help me as a State Representative working for change at the Arizona Capitol.

In addition to keeping up your important political voice and actions for democracy, you should please help us now in our official 2010 re-election campaign.

Please donate $140 max by sending a check to Daniel Patterson for Arizona, POB 172, Tucson AZ 85702. Thank you!

I am again a Clean Elections candidate. Any amount you can give is much appreciated and will be spent wisely. Please also let us know if you are willing to volunteer.

Please visit our website at DanielPatterson.net, which will be updated as the campaign progresses. Gracias!

Brewer's unwise Sep 4 budget OKs harm Arizonans

GOP/Brewer serve special interests, not public interest.

PHOENIX -- Gov. Jan Brewer's actions Friday to sign most of the legislative Republicans' one-sided reckless budget will harm Arizona for a long time.

Clearly she is no friend of the common good for people in our state.

Here are just some of the bad deals Brewer unwisely and unacceptably signed in to law on Sept 4:

-- An end to healthcare benefits for 10000 KidsCare Parents and 800 domestic partners. A giveaway to angry social conservatives.

-- A freeze on agency rule making, moratorium on impact fees, moratorium on building code updates, and freeze on construction sales tax rates. A big favor to sprawl developers, and big disrespect to cities, towns and counties.

-- A bad provision allowing private companies to operate state prisons, which is opposed by Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan and his prison officers as a risk to public safety.

-- A Heritage Fund raid that diverts $3M of the State Parks Board Heritage Fund. A shift of $9.8M of State Trust Land dollars to the State Land Department. More huge cuts to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality which means less monitoring of water quality, fewer programs for improving air quality, and defunding of the state’s recycling program. All in service of anti-environment, anti-health lobbies and out-of-touch Republican lawmakers.

Don't be fooled, Jan Brewer and the Republicans are not leaders and not good for Arizona.

Unlike Brewer and the GOP, I and other Democrats are fighting for a stronger Arizona.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Working for AZ foreclosure relief this Labor Day

People deserve fair relief.

TUCSON -- Here's an opinion piece from me today about Arizona's foreclosure crisis and fighting for middle-class families.

ARIZONA DAILY STAR
-- Sep 7 09

Dems worked to offer foreclosure relief

Re: the Aug. 30 article "Foreclosure forces elderly Tucson couple to relocate from their beloved home to rental."

The heart-wrenching feelings my family and I have about Jesús and Irma Terán's hardships are especially upsetting considering I and other Democrats worked hard at the Capitol this year trying to help families stay in their homes.

We introduced a package of bills to attack Arizona's foreclosure crisis and help keep middle-class families, our economic heart, in the homes they worked so hard for.

My House Bill 2601 offered a 60-day timeout to homeowners in danger of losing their home and suspended foreclosure for up to a year while fair loan terms were negotiated and honored. But Republicans refused to hear Democrats' foreclosure relief bills and more people are suffering because of it.

Jesús and Irma Terán are living a devastation too many Arizonans are increasingly facing. It is unacceptable that legislative Republicans continue to ignore this economic harm.

Rep. Daniel Patterson
Democrat, District 29, Tucson

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Rep Heinz on AZ healthcare as model for US reform

Matt Heinz

TUCSON -- My LD29 seatmate in the Arizona House of Representatives, Dr. Matt Heinz, has an important opinion piece in today's Star about healthcare and Arizona's Medicaid program, AHCCCS, and how it could be a model for national health insurance reform.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Foro: La Reforma del Seguro Médico; football!

Bear Down, Arizona!

TUCSON -- I'll be participating in a health insurance reform event this morning in LD29 with my US Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ7). Organizing for America will be hosting Congressman Grijalva, along with a panel of medical professionals, for a Public Forum on Health Insurance Reform in spanish in an effort to better reach the Latino community.

As a former football player, I'm also excited college football kicks off today across America.

Go Arizona! I'll be at the game v. Central Michigan tonight.

Go Michigan State! My alma mater.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Gov/GOP fail again, Dems urge bipartisan budget

Education and other essential services are suffering as Republicans cannot pass a fair budget, and refuse to work with Democrats.

PHOENIX – Republican lawmakers and Republican Gov. Jan Brewer once again failed to enact a budget Friday, leaving the state under economic distress and vital services at risk.

“How much longer will it take for Gov. Brewer and Republican lawmakers to realize it will take real, bipartisan budget negotiations to solve our state’s economic crisis?” said House Democratic Leader David Lujan. “Like all Arizonans, Democrats are just as frustrated with the total lack of leadership on the state budget. It is absurd that the governor and the legislature now has had eight months to pass a bipartisan budget and still can’t get the job done. This kind of behavior is unacceptable.”

Democratic lawmakers have urged for bipartisan budget talks for eight months to solve the state's economic crisis, but Brewer failed to lead and refused to call all five parties — Brewer, House and Senate Democrats and Republicans — to the table to negotiate a bipartisan budget, until two months into the fiscal year, after a budget had already passed and just days before Brewer is required to take action.

"The continued lack of leadership from Governor Brewer and legislative Republicans is stunning, increasingly damaging and totally unacceptable," said Rep. Daniel Patterson of Tucson. "I am very frustrated as are the people of Arizona that we still don't have a fair budget. I and other Democrats will continue to work for a fiscally responsible balanced budget solution that protects middle-class families."

During the first meeting on Aug. 21, Brewer insisted on Democratic votes on Brewer’s sales tax referral after being unable to gain the votes of members of her own — the majority party in the legislature. Democrats have concerns about the impact of the full budget, which digs Arizona into an even deeper fiscal hole and lacks long-term stability and about the sales tax hike which does not directly fund education and vital services.

Democrats agreed to work in every capacity to meet her last-minute demands to show her where to make changes in the budget to create a bipartisan solution. They were happy to discuss the revenue issue in the context of the larger budget package, but Gov. Brewer refused to take even one small step during the talks to work with Democrats to protect education and middle-class families in Arizona.

Democrats asked for modest budget changes that:

-- Restore $295 million in cuts made in the Republican budget, including restoring $140 million in K-12 funding. The current Republican budget makes $915 million in cuts and sweeps, including cuts of $220 million from K-12 education on top of the $133 million in cuts schools received in January and the $300 million in sweeps of unspent cash balances taken from school districts in May.
-- Do not give away $250 million from the state’s education equalization tax and direct $75 million from the vehicle license tax to go to the general fund. The $325 million in revenue created by these changes pays for the restorations Democrats requested and leaves a sizable balance carry forward to help balance next year’s budget.
-- Detail some changes, such as a refundable low-income tax credit, to the one-cent sales tax referral language to protect families and ensure the new tax revenue goes to education and health programs. Democratic leadership told the Governor they would agree to support the sales tax referral in the context of changes to the larger budget package, although they preferred other revenue options.
-- Ask that some of the most controversial budget provisions be taken out, such as the privatization of death row, the preempting of local control of cities and the removal of protections and notice requirements for teachers subject to layoffs created by budget deficits.

“The choices during these negotiations were tax breaks for big corporations or essential funding for education and vital social services,” said Assistant House Democratic Leader Kyrsten Sinema. “They cost the same amount of money. Democrats chose funding education. And based on her line-item vetoes to education cuts today, it sounds to us like our interest were the same as hers. We are confused as to why the governor is choosing to blame Democrats.”

But Brewer and Republicans refused to budge and take off their partisan blinders, then Brewer chose to line-item veto cuts and the equalization bill anyway.

“Democrats did everything we could to work with Gov. Brewer on the budget, making our own sacrifices and going above and beyond our cut level,” said House Democratic Whip Chad Campbell. “But she refused to make the slightest concession to address core Arizona values like funding education and protecting middle-class families and children. Now we are two months past deadline and still no budget.”

Democrats detailed the shortfalls of the Republican budget and why it is necessary to come together for a bipartisan solution.

“We must work toward a real, bipartisan solution. There is an obvious path to a responsible and comprehensive budget solution, and as always, Democrats stand ready to walk down that bipartisan path for a stronger Arizona,” said Assistant Senate Democratic Leader Rebecca Rios.

- adapted from House Dems PIO

Verizon/Alltel on wrong side of labor & coal issues

Verizon/Alltel should hang up on Massey.

AZ budget/political updates @RepPatterson on twitter.

BASKING RIDGE NJ -- Why is Verizon/Alltel Wireless backing Don Blankenship, chairman, CEO and president of Massey Energy, one of the largest coal companies in America and one of the driving forces behind the devastation of America's lands known as mountaintop removal coal mining?

Verizon has joined with Massey Energy to promote an anti-labor, anti-environment rally in West Virginia on Labor Day.

Read more and let Verizon/Alltel know how you feel.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

State of AZ unethically kills 3rd Kofa refuge lion

GPS collar a death sentence, not research.

OTHER COVERAGE, Sep 2: Arizona Daily Star, Yuma Sun.

YUMA AZ -- Desert puma 'KM04' has been tracked, shot and killed near the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge by the Arizona Game & Fish Dept.

The ethical problems continue at troubled agency Arizona Game & Fish. The good old boys at Game & Fish have an outdated anti-carnivore bias and continue to insist a National Wildlife Refuge be run as a state bighorn game farm. The bighorn herd at Kofa is increasing when last checked, but due to state-sponored killings, the small and rare low desert puma population on and around the Kofa is far more imperiled right now than the bighorn herd.

The state has spent at least nearly $13,000 recently on killing lions around Kofa and elsewhere. This figure does not include costs for trapping, collaring and monitoring, which are substantial, so AGFD has likely spent far more.

It is simply immoral for the state to trap and collar predators in the name of research and then later repeatedly use the GPS collars to track and kill the animals. Game & Fish's collars are a death sentence for too many important carnivores and the US Fish and Wildlife Service should block the state from collaring any more Kofa pumas.

I am an Arizona hunter who formerly worked with BLM and has worked for over 15 years to protect and recover bighorn populations across the southwest. I am also considering legislation in 2010 to require more checks and balances and scientific oversight of Arizona Game & Fish.

More on the troubling history of this issue.