Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Corporate Bidding Day at the AZ lege

...as in "Doing Corporate Bidding Day," not "Bidding on Corporations Day"...

Even though the lege's official "events" calendar didn't list it, based on the available evidence, Tuesday, May 26 was Corporate Bidding Day, as the lege devoted itself to introducing, discussing, and/or passing measures devoted to protecting corporate interests over the interests of Arizonans.

...The day started with the House Health and Human Services Committee passing Rep. Nancy Barto's bill to protect the profit margins of private health insurers on a party-line vote.

...Then they moved on to "special session" activities, with the House Ways and Means and Rules Committees passing a bill to preserve the revenue stream for Steve Yarbrough's school tuition organization, also on party line votes (WM here, Rules here).

The House plans to run the bill through Committee of the Whole (COW) and Third Read (final passage) on Wednesday.

The Senate Appropriations Committee passed their body's version of the same bill, also on a party line vote.

The Senate is also scheduled to run the bill through COW on Wednesday.

Assuming that the Senate schedules Third Read for its bill this week, the Rep caucuses of the lege should be able to conference, come up with a final bill, and get it to the governor's desk by the end of the week or sometime next week. I say "the Rep caucuses" because this shameless bit of ideological and financial featherbedding will be passed without Democratic support.

Senate Approps issued a press release crowing about the passage, claiming that the bill will help disabled and foster children yet save the state money because it will mean that there will be fewer special ed students in public school systems.

The House Democratic caucus issued its own presser that pointed out that the Reps in the lege already cut $91 million in aid for foster and disabled children in the 2009 budget fix (with even deeper cuts expected in the FY2010 budget). In addition, this bill will further reduce state revenues by $5 million.

As Rep. Steve Farley points out in his latest Farley Report (certain to be posted online at R-Cubed or AZ Netroots), it will also reduce per-pupil state payments to schools while *not* reducing the costs the schools incur (teacher salaries, utilities and other fixed costs) that are the same whether there are 15 special ed students in a class, or 12, or 10, or just one.

...Today's capper was back in regular session when the House COW session passed HB2610, a bill to severely limit corporate product and civil liability exposure (the text of the bill here, and the text of a floor amendment added during COW here; the amendment made a bad bill even worse).

All in all, the lege had a productive day...unless your idea of "productive" for the legislature is "looking after the interests of all Arizonans."

In that case, it was a lousy day.

Anyway, Thursday should be interesting. The Democratic caucus is promising to have its budget proposal ready for release by around 10 a.m.

It will be available at http://www.StrongerArizona.com, and it's proof that at least some of the members of the lege are still focused on the job that their constituents elected them to do.


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