Low tax rates are essential for sustained growth and overall social wellbeing. Surveys show increased public support at 81% for reduced tax rates in Arizona. In support of teachers, activists such as those involved in the #REDforED movement, have emphasized the need for better measures that boost and enhance the overall reward scheme for teachers.
Reduced personal income tax will have a significant impact on the Arizona business community. A reduction of 2.5% in personal income tax evens the playground in the Arizona business environment. It will keep more money in small businesses, allowing them the much-needed resources for the growth and job creation. Without a doubt, Arizona’s business environment experience tax burden limits its attractiveness to external business and workforce. In addition, current tax policies have resulted in increased immigration outside the state. Employees are seeking a better working environment that has policies which enable them to keep a higher percentage of their earnings.
Furthermore, increased pocket income after-tax increases the family purchase power and reduces reliance on state interventions. The recommendations for tax reduction are also based on the state fiscal budget operated on-budget surplus. Thus, the recent proposal to increase the income tax is unwarranted harm to the local business community. Instead of increasing the tax burden, the state should adopt spending reforms. In the era of Covid-19, this proposal stands to impact natural and long-term effects on the Arizona people.
As a teacher activist, I support income tax relief so that employees, families, and businesses in Arizona survive and thrive during these challenging times. The Covid pandemic has negatively impacted business and families in Arizona. Income tax relief is essential to help the business and families under distress.
Catherine Barrett is an Arizona Governor’s Master Teacher and currently Chair of citizens initiative petition, A Classroom Code of Ethics For Public Schools K-12. You can find her on Twitter @ReadersLeadPD, and on Facebook at Yes4Ethics
In reality, this new office has nothing to do with “accountability” or “transparency.” If it did, then Mayor Gallego and other members of the far left would be honest that this office is nothing more than a politicized endeavor designed to undermine the police. And ultimately, they want to use it to help build momentum toward what the far left really wants: imposing progressive policies in the police department and defunding the police.
But maybe Mayor Gallego ought to check her definition of “national best practice.” Because around the country, efforts to defund the police haven’t exactly gone so well.
Take Seattle for example. You may remember this major American city being referred to as CHAZ or CHOP during the Black Lives Matter riots last summer. Under pressure to cut police spending, the Seattle City Council redistributed nearly 20% of its police budget this past November. And what was the result? A dramatic increase in homicides and shootings so far in 2021. And this comes after a similar increase in 2020!
By Arizona Corporation Commissioner Justin Olson |
On Wednesday, the Corporation Commission disregarded the clear will of the voters and advanced energy mandates nearly identical to what the voters overwhelmingly rejected just over two years ago. With 68.2% voting no, Arizonans resoundingly defeated Proposition 127 that would have required Arizona’s utilities to obtain 50% of their power from renewable sources. Voters sent a clear message that they do not support arbitrary mandates that will drive up the cost of their energy bills .
While Proposition 127 was a 50% renewable energy mandate by 2030, the draft energy rules adopted by the Commission yesterday include a 50% carbon emissions reduction mandate by 2032. But that’s not all, the Commission’s rule goes far beyond Prop-127’s 50% threshold and requires a 100% ban on carbon emissions by 2070.
Two years ago, California adopted a similar 100% standard and the result has been disastrous. Californians pay 50% more for their power than Arizonans, and, what do they get for this premium—rolling blackouts. In the heat of the summer last year, Californians found themselves with no ability to turn on their air conditioning units, power their appliances or even have a light to read. There was not enough power to go around due to California’s failed policies. Why would Arizona adopt the same mandates that led to these miserable results?
During the Commission’s deliberations, I offered an amendment to the energy rules that would have honored the will of the voters and protected ratepayers. With my amendment, the mandates would only apply if the projects available to meet the carbon reduction thresholds were the lowest-cost method of meeting customers’ energy needs. Unfortunately, the Commission rejected this commonsense amendment and made it clear that these rules are designed to drive up costs to ratepayers.
When I ran for the Commission, I promised to pursue policies that will lead to the lowest rates possible while still maintaining safe and reliable services. I have sought to honor this pledge with each of my votes at the Commission and my vote yesterday was no exception. I proudly voted to respect the will of the voters and to protect the ratepayers from unwanted rate increases. It’s disappointing that a majority of the Commission did not do the same.
Arizona’s Governor and lawmakers are displaying an enlightened shift in strategy addressing the overdose crisis. After the state experienced an estimated 48 percent jump in overdose deaths during the first eight months of 2020 (a 32 percent increase in most populous Maricopa County in all of 2020), they decided to embrace harm reduction.
On May 14 the Arizona House voted 48–11 to pass SB 1486, which removed fentanyl test strips from the list of legally prohibited drug paraphernalia, after the Arizona Senate voted unanimously in favor of the bill. On May 19, Governor Ducey (R) signed it into law.
Fentanyl test strips, made by a Canadian biotechnology company, were designed for urine drug screening. The tests strips are not approved for sale in U.S. drugstores or other outlets by the Food and Drug Administration, but harm reduction organizations—including “needle exchange” programs— have been buying them and handing them out to IV drug users who use them “off‐label” to test heroin, cocaine, and other drugs for the presence of fentanyl. Researchers claim the tests strips are highly accurate and can detect up to 10 analogs of fentanyl. They also find they save lives by causing drug users to use smaller amounts and/or take a drug more slowly when they detect it contains fentanyl.
When signing the bill into law, Governor Ducey said:
We want everyone who is using drugs to seek professional treatment. But until someone is ready to get help, we need to make sure they have the tools necessary to prevent a lethal overdose.
Speaking of “needle exchange” programs, syringe services programs (SSPs), the term public health professionals use for “needle exchange” programs, are endorsed by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, and the American Medical Association. In January 2020, then‐Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams and Professor Ricky D. Bluthenthal of the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine spoke at the Cato Institute on the benefits of syringe services programs. They are proven to reduce the spread of HIV, hepatitis C, and other infectious diseases. They also serve to reduce overdose deaths because one of their services is to distribute the overdose antidote naloxone as well as fentanyl test strips and other drug‐testing materials. Dr. Adams pointed out SSPs offer the added benefits of screening IV drug users for hepatitis and HIV so they can get treatment, and bringing many of them into rehab programs.
Although federal law permits syringe services programs, many states prohibit or make the operation of SSPs very difficult. Researchers at Temple University’s Center for Public Health Law research reported in the July/August 2020 Public Health Reports:
Thirty‐nine states (including the District of Columbia) had laws in effect on August 1, 2019, that removed legal impediments to, explicitly authorized, and/or regulated SSPs. Thirty‐three states had 1 or more laws consistent with legal possession of syringes by SSP participants under at least some circumstances. Changes from 2014 to 2019 included an increase of 14 states explicitly authorizing SSPs by law and an increase of 12 states with at least 1 provision reducing legal barriers to SSPs. Since 2014, the number of states explicitly authorizing SSPs nearly doubled, and the new states included many rural, southern, or midwestern states that had been identified as having poor access to SSPs, as well as states at high risk for HIV and hepatitis C virus outbreaks. Substantial legal barriers to SSP operation and participant syringe possession remained in >20% of US states.
Until now, Arizona was among the states where paraphernalia laws prevented SSPs from operating out in the open. At least four such programs, all privately funded, have been operating in the state but constantly fear police interdiction—as do their clients. If they were explicitly legal, they could establish permanent locations and raise funds.
After an unsuccessful attempt to legalize syringe services in 2018, then‐Representative Tony Rivero (R‐Peoria) tried again in 2020. I testified on the benefits of SSPs before the House Health Committee in February of that year. A bill to legalize syringe services passed the House 50–10 but died in the Senate. This year Senator Nancy Barto (R‐Phoenix) introduced SB 1250, legalizing SSPs. The Arizona Senate passed the bill unanimously in mid‐April, and it passed the House 56–2 with 2 abstentions on May 18.
On May 24, Governor Ducey signed SB 1250 into law.
The bill requires operators of SSPs to “offer disposal of used needles and syringes,” but unlike laws in some states, it does not require one‐for‐one exchanges with people who access the programs. One‐for‐one requirements pose an undue burden on syringe services programs. The priority should be getting clean paraphernalia out to users in order to reduce the spread of disease. The Arizona law gets the priority right.
After multiple unsuccessful attempts, it is gratifying that Arizona lawmaker’s views evolved from initial reluctance to a now near‐unanimous embrace of harm reduction as a rational, evidence‐based, and compassionate approach to the drug overdose crisis. Add the enactment of these two harm reduction measures to the recent enactment of HB 2454, which allows Arizonans to access telehealth services from health care practitioners who hold out‐of‐state licenses, and 2021 is proving to be a year in which the rest of the country can look to Arizona for leadership in health care reform.
Since 2019, Democrats have been pushing legislation called House Resolution 1 (HR1). And after gaining control of Congress, they passed the 800-page bill (which they probably read cover to cover) in the House this past March.
Cleverly dubbed the “For the People Act,” HR1 is currently being debated in the Senate. And while it claims to do things that sound good on paper—like “expand voting rights”—make no mistake. The only group of people who stand to benefit from this dangerous bill is Democrats.
HR 1 is nothing more than a power grab. And this so-called “election reform” would not only nationalize our elections, but it would significantly undermine the First Amendment.
A federal takeover of elections
With distrust in the U.S. election system continuing to plague our country, multiple states—including Arizona—have sought to pass reasonable laws that protect our election process…
I recently took the test required for US citizenship applicants. It consisted of 20 out of 100 possible questions. It was shockingly simple.
Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and the Constitution were all answers to straightforward questions. Probably the most difficult question was the minimum voting age (18). I’m no scholar but there was no doubt about any answer.
Yet only one of three American adults can achieve the 60% pass rate. It’s another stark reminder of the sorry condition of our public education system.
You see it everywhere. Most third grade graduates can’t read. High schools award diplomas to students with eighth grade (or worse) academic skills. Colleges must give remedial instruction before freshpersons can tackle even the most basic courses.
Employers complain about uneducated, untrainable college graduates. Tech companies lobby for visas so foreign workers can fill jobs where they can’t find qualified applicants.
America still has an academic elite which produces world leading research and wins prizes, but we suffer at every other level from the lack of academic attainment. Achievement scores have been stagnant for over 50 years, since teachers’ unions assumed de facto control of our public school systems.
Nothing new here, but the public school monopoly has been remarkably successful in fending off desperately needed reforms, like universal school choice. Instead of taking accountability for failures, they simply change the standards.
Arizona has had several iterations of “high stakes“ achievement tests in the last few decades, all created in response to unacceptably high failure rates on previous tests. Yet the public school monopoly is widely supported in demanding yet more money while delivering an inferior product.
The SAT and ACT college entrance exams have also quietly inflated their scores but they still serve as a useful tool for colleges in the admissions process. They prevent gaming of the system by grade inflation and help colleges identify students likely to be successful. Meanwhile, worthy but overlooked students are provided a pathway for proving themselves..
But this month, the University of California system announced it will no longer consider the SAT or ACT in their admissions process on the basis that they employ “racist metrics“. Over half of American four year colleges and universities also have dismissed these tests as requirements for the incoming class in 2021.
The truth is these tests have been thoroughly scrubbed for bias. They’re not racist in any honest sense of the term except that they produce differing results for racial groups. Biased testing is not the explanation, which more likely lies in in unequal opportunity and effort among the groups.
For example, Asian-American students spend 13 hours per week on homework according to a UCSD study. White students spend 5.5 hours weekly, Hispanic and black students less. Asian-American parents are education-oriented and stress the value of hard work.
However, high-end charter schools have shown that children of all races can learn when given the encouragement and rigorous instruction necessary. The mainstream response to these successes has been not emulation but attempts to shut them down or at least limit their growth.
Far from focusing on pathways to success, many public school systems are now promoting the notion that achievement itself is racist. Math instruction is considered to be biased against minorities because of its insistence on one right answer. “Show me your work“ is white. No, really.
Oregon and California are among states developing courses for teaching “equitable math instruction“. Worse, many public schools are starting to teach outright racial hate. Critical Race Theory has likely come to a school near you, without bothering to notify parents.
This is the notion that racism and slavery were the founding principles of America. White people alone are inherently, incurably racist. They must own their racism rather than deny it or advocate racial equality, which only proves their guilt.
We are facing an uncertain future if we continue to produce an uneducated, polarized citizenry. The ray of hope may lie with parents made newly aware during the Covid epidemic.
Reports are growing of concerned parent groups rising up around the country to protest the academic failings and intolerant teaching prevalent in our public schools. May their tribe increase.
Dr. Thomas Patterson, former Chairman of the Goldwater Institute, is a retired emergency physician. He served as an Arizona State senator for 10 years in the 1990s, and as Majority Leader from 93-96. He is the author of Arizona’s original charter schools bill.