Maricopa County Board of Supervisors have chosen State Representative Raquel Terán (D-Phoenix) to take over the State Senate seat vacated by alleged child sex abuser Tony Navarrete. Terán is also the chairwoman of the Arizona Democratic Party, elected at the beginning of this year. The board announced their decision Wednesday.
Terán will serve out the remainder of Navarrete’s term, which expires January 2023. Her transition will also leave a vacancy; the board now must find someone to serve out the remainder of her term, which also expires in 2023. They haven’t indicated who they are considering to fill Terán’s seat – the board is awaiting Terán’s official resignation to commence the replacement process.
As a state representative and chair of the state’s Democratic Party, Terán has fallen in line with mainstream Democratic beliefs: universal health care, abortion rights, tuition-free college for Arizona students, the Green New Deal and similar climate change policies, permanent early voting and same-day voter registration, new pathways to citizenship for illegal immigrants, and stricter gun control to name a few.
Most recently, she’s expressed her support for President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
Supervisor Steve Gallardo went on the record to express his support for Terán’s appointment.
“It was my pleasure to nominate Raquel Terán,” said Gallardo. “I know Raquel will do a tremendous job in her continued public service for the constituents of LD-30.”
Terán was one of three finalists. The two not chosen were Isaac Elementary School District Governing Board Member Harry Garewal Jr. and Arizona Democracy Collaborative Director and state representative candidate Flavio Bravo.
Last week, Gov. Katie Hobbs’ veto streak killed a bill with strong bipartisan support. It was one of the 15 bills vetoed by the governor so far: SB1184, SB1248, SB1523, SB1524, SB1525, SB1526, SB1527, SB1528, SB1529, SB1530, SB1531, SB1532, SB1533, SB1534, and SB1535.
The bill that earned strong bipartisan support was SB1248, which originated from HB2529 by State Rep. T.J. Shope (R-LD08). SB1248 would’ve repealed the mandate for regulated health professions seeking an expanded scope of practice to undergo a statutory sunrise review. It passed 21-9 in the Senate, with five Democrats and all Republicans voting for it; in the House, it passed 42-18, with 12 Democrats joining all Republicans in voting for it. Hobbs vetoed the bill last week.
Talonya Adams, the woman twice vindicated in court for racial discrimination faced under Hobbs, said the legislature’s override of Hobbs’ veto “jeopardized her relevancy.”
“A principled [government] comprised of co-equal branches will eventually check a branch that exploits its power, with a [two-thirds] veto override,” said Adams.
So far, the legislature hasn’t overridden any of Hobbs’ vetoes.
In a letter explaining her decision to veto SB1248, Hobbs argued that fixing part of the problem with scope of practice expansion wasn’t sufficient for her since the government couldn’t ensure that these expansions would result in “equitable access to care.” She argued that the legislature needed to ensure equity in health care.
“Without the sunrise application process, provider groups could fast-track their priorities through the legislative process without adequate attention to why the change is necessary, or if it will impact communities with the greatest needs,” wrote Hobbs.
The same day that she vetoed the heavily-bipartisan legislation, Hobbs pledged to work with Democratic leadership to “find real solutions” to current state issues.
It wasn’t until last week that Hobbs allowed bills to pass unscathed by her veto stamp: SB1103 and SB1171. Hobbs said she signed these two bills because they were “good,” indicating that all other past legislation wasn’t.
SB1103 from Senate President Warren Petersen (R-LD14) allows the legislative body of a municipality or county to authorize administrative personnel to approve construction plans without public hearing. The intent of the legislation was to expedite home construction approvals in an effort to counter the ongoing housing shortage.
SB1103 passed 59-0 in the House and 25-3 in the Senate. Only Minority Leader Raquel Terán (D-LD26), Minority Caucus Chair Leah Alston (D-LD05), and State Sen. Anna Hernandez (D-LD24) voted against it.
SB1171 from State Sen. J.D. Mesnard (R-LD13) aligned Arizona tax law with changes made to the federal tax law by Congress. The legislation passed without any opposition in either the House or Senate.
As expected, Governor Katie Hobbs vetoed the budget sent to her by the Arizona Legislature, putting the state’s financial future into a potential situation of future limbo.
Instead of signing a budget very similar to one passed last session by a bipartisan majority of legislators, Governor Hobbs repeatedly attacked Republicans for doing their constitutional duties over the past month, characterizing the $15.8 Billion budget as “approved by a slim, partisan majority.” Her statement, released after her veto of the budget, framed the legislature’s offering as a “do-nothing budget” that “kicks the can down the road,” and that it was “an insult to Arizonans.”
After these sharp assertions by Arizona’s new Chief Executive, her office released a tweet from her @GovernorHobbs account that reiterated her oft-used claim that her “door is open” and that she welcomes “any sincere efforts to work on a budget that puts people, not politics, first.” Hobbs’ “open-door” claim has been refuted by Republicans throughout the first month of the legislative session, including one statement from Representative David Livingston on February 1, 2023, when he said, “It’s one thing to talk a big talk & use social media to say you have an open-door policy, but I can tell you from personal experience, her door is locked from the inside.”
Senate President Warren Petersen had also shared his concerns about the lack of communication from the Ninth Floor in the weeks leading up to this budget passage and gubernatorial veto. Also on February 1, Petersen told his chamber that “we have an open door policy to hear all budget requests and suggestions, and we haven’t heard a peep from Governor Hobbs!”
Republicans had no shortage of responses after seeing the news of the governor’s veto. Senate President Pro Tempore T.J. Shope tweeted, “How brave to veto a budget that just six months ago was awesome. Gonna be a long session and a long four years @GovernorHobbs but I’ll be here for all of it. Some of us have been working and others have been offering platitudes about open doors and such. Arizonans deserve better…”
Representative Lupe Diaz wrote, “Katie Hobbs just vetoed a sensible strong budget that both Republicans and Democrats voted on last year. With this veto she shows that she is willing to put the citizens of Arizona in the path of a State shut down.”
Representative Joseph Chaplik informed his followers that “Every single Dem in #azleg voted for this budget in 2022. Katie Hobbs’ veto shows she’d rather shut the state down than do the right thing for every citizen of this state.”
Senator Anthony Kern said, “Katie Hobbs just vetoed $82 million for the School Safety Program that provides grant funding for both school counselors and school resource officers.”
Legislative Democrats, however, were appreciative of Hobbs’ veto. House Democratic Leader Andrés Cano applauded the governor’s action, saying, “Republican lawmakers unilaterally introduced a sham budget that they knew would be vetoed. This was a colossal waste of time by the GOP that involved no opportunity for compromise or negotiation.” Senate Democratic Leader Raquel Terán tweeted, “.@GovernorHobbs did right by every Arizona with this veto. This ‘budget’ does nothing to move us forward, but would rather chain us to the past. It’s time to step into the future and craft a budget that addresses our shared reality.”
Arizona’s Fiscal Year 2024 begins July 1, and Governor Hobbs’ veto has now officially kickstarted the stare down over a possible lapse in state funding this summer. Hobbs is expected to veto many more Republican bills this session, and it remains to be seen if communication between the sides will improve as they approach the June 30 deadline to reach an accord on another budget compromise.
Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.
President Joe Biden gave his second State of the Union (SOTU) address on Tuesday night in front of a packed U.S. House chamber and millions of viewers around the world. As is the case with most of these speeches, members of the president’s political party applauded his words, while members of the opposing party largely condemned his statements and policies.
It was no different with members of the Arizona Legislature – some of whom could very well be members of Congress in the future. Many Republican and Democratic state legislators were very active on Twitter before, during, and after the SOTU address.
Representative Matt Gress shared a clip from U.S. Representative Juan Ciscomani’s Spanish language Republican response to the nation following the president’s speech.
House Majority Leader Leo Biasiucci retweeted a handful of posts reacting to President Biden’s statements, including his comments about an assault weapons ban, fentanyl, and Social Security.
Senate President Warren Petersen retweeted a post from U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, which fact checked Biden’s actions to increase the U.S. deficit.
Representative Tim Dunn gave some SOTU feedback to President Biden on the border crisis: “Biden SOTU speech fails to address the emergency effecting the southern border. This can end by changing his policy. This allows fentanyl to come to your neighborhood. Secure the border protect our airways from China and open up oil exploration to curb inflation.”
Senator Wendy Rogers, in addition to retweeting other posts about the president’s comments, quote tweeted a post showing Bono and Paul Pelosi chatting at the State of the Union, saying, “This shows NO RESPECT for our sacred institutions… I do not allow this in my Arizona Senate committee.”
Senate President Pro Tempore T.J. Shope also retweeted several tweets reacting to the president’s speech, and he added his own quote tweet to U.S. House Speaker McCarthy’s post of U.S. Representative Ciscomani’s Republican response, saying, “Thank you @SpeakerMcCarthy for choosing my friend @RepCiscomani to deliver the Spanish-language @GOP response to the #SOTU! The #AmericanDream is alive and well!”
Representative Jacqueline Parker quote tweeted U.S. Senator Rick Scott’s reaction to the SOTU, writing, “AZ & the federal government are like mirror images right now. The state of OUR state is worsening under Hobbs too. Our borders aren’t secure, school choice is under attack, families are suffering, & all Hobbs wants to do is spend more taxpayer money on big gov’t special interests.”
Representative David Livingston retweeted a number of posts reacting to the SOTU, including some by U.S. Representatives Jim Banks and Byron Donalds. He also shared an Axios story about Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ Republican response to the SOTU.
Representative Austin Smith had a one-word answer for President Biden when the @POTUS account tweeted about banning assault weapons: “No”
House Speaker Pro Tempore Travis Grantham shared multiple SOTU tweets from other accounts, including from U.S. Representatives Andy Biggs and Tom Tiffany.
Representative Justin Heap retweeted a post from the National Republican Congressional Committee about U.S. Representative Ciscomani’s Republican response.
Senate Democratic Leader Raquel Terán tweeted, “@POTUS brought it all in for his (SOTU) address!”
Representative Consuelo Hernandez retweeted a post, which positively reacted to President Biden taking a moment to “acknowledge the fears of black parents & their children.”
Senator Christine Marsh retweeted a post from Martin Luther King III, which read, “We must continue working to bring an end to violence everywhere in this country. It’s why I’m continuing dad’s fight to eradicate the triple evils of poverty, racism, and violence.”
House Minority Leader Andrés Cano retweeted Biden’s @POTUS account, showing him shaking hands with Vice President Kamala Harris – and the caption, “What a night, VP.”
Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.
On Monday, the Arizona Senate Appropriations Committee approved reusing last year’s budget for the coming year, citing concerns over the current poor state of the economy.
The budget bill, SB1523, passed along partisan lines, 6-4. The Republican majority of the committee insisted that this budget structure was a fiscally wise move, while the Democratic minority claimed that Republicans were merely unwilling to negotiate with them.
Gov. Katie Hobbs criticized the budget as a “do-nothing” plan.
Republican legislators wondered whether Hobbs would close government-funded entities to obtain her ideal budget.
“[W]ill she veto the budget and threaten the possibility of closing our schools, law enforcement agencies, and health care services?” asked House Majority Leader Leo Biasiucci (R-LD30).
During Monday’s Senate Appropriations Committee meeting, Democrats alleged that Republicans weren’t concerned about the economy. Rather, they said that their budget reflected a refusal to work with either them or Hobbs.
Senate Minority Caucus Chair Lela Alston (D-LD05) called the budget a “phony bill,” a “power grab,” and a “Ducey budget” that avoided negotiations with Hobbs and Democrats. State Sen. Priya Sundareshan (D-LD18) claimed it was disrespectful to not give them more notice. The legislators received the bill on Monday evening. Sundareshan implied that last year’s Democratic legislators were only satisfied with the budget because they had several different Democrats in the legislature and didn’t have a Democratic governor in power.
“I understand that this budget may have been modeled after a bipartisan one last year, but that does not reflect the reality on the ground today. We have different legislators in the legislature today, we have a different governor, we have different circumstances on the ground,” said Sundareshan.
State Sen. John Kavanagh (R-LD03), the committee chairman, countered Democrats’ claims that the budget was sprung upon them suddenly Monday evening. Kavanagh said that they had plenty of notice of budget proceedings over the past month.
“It wouldn’t be a phony budget to the state employees, to those who rely on state monies come July when government shuts down. To them, this wouldn’t have been a phony budget, this would’ve been a lifesaver budget, including schools and teachers,” said Kavanagh.
State Sen. Anthony Kern (R-LD27) said that the budget was “skinny” and “responsible” since the state and nation are living in times of economic uncertainty. State Sen. Jake Hoffman (R-LD15) concurred. He questioned why Hobbs would veto the budget when she knew how a Republican-led legislature would structure the budgets in response to their constituents.
“We are going into times of economic uncertainty, and this budget is going to keep the lights on,” said Hoffman.
Senate Democrats criticized the budget for being too similar to last year’s version. However, last year the caucus praised the budget as a “historic and rare opportunity” for schools.
In a press release following the Senate Appropriations Committee advancing their version of the budget, House Minority Leader Andrés Cano (D-LD20) claimed that Republicans were “afraid” of Hobbs, and needed to “grow up.” Similarly, Senate Minority Leader Raquel Terán (D-LD26) said that Republicans needed to “act their age” to improve the budget.
Following the Senate advancing its version of the budget, House Republicans introduced their version on Tuesday. State Rep. David Livingston (R-LD28) expressed confidence that all 13 of his introduced budget bills would pass during Wednesday’s House Appropriations Committee meeting, which he chairs.
In a press release, Livingston called Hobbs’ budget plan an “irresponsible,” “left-wing” wish list.
“In this time of political division and economic uncertainty, that won’t work for Arizonans, and it won’t pass at the legislature,” said Livingston.
The Joint Legislative Budget Committee (JLBC) report of the budget forecasted $17.6 billion in ongoing revenue for the upcoming fiscal year, nearly $15 billion in ongoing expenditures, and nearly $858,000 in one-time expenditures.
The budget includes $183 million in one-time funding for building renewal grants, $78 million from the state general fund for a one-time deposit in the new schools facility fund, and $200 million from the state general fund for the superintendent.