Monday, January 18, 2010

Things that are more important than the state's budget deficit

At least, more important to Arizona's state legislators, whose primary duty is to craft a balanced budget. They've had time to file 794 bills, memorials, and resolutions, but haven't had the time to address the current fiscal year's budget deficit.

Some early bill filings that are either irrelevent to the fiscal crisis or counterproductive -

- SCR1022, a proposed amendment to the Arizona Constitution from "Cap'n Al" Melvin to give the legislature the authority to swipe sweep "non-custodial" federal monies (i.e. block grants) and to appropriate the monies as the lege sees fit. Related: HB2500 (Rick Murphy).

- SCR1009, Jonathan Paton's proposal to ban Clean Elections and any other public financing of election campaigns.

- SCR1008, Chuck Gray's scheme to abolish the state's income tax and jack up the state's sales tax. Wonder if Donna at Democratic Diva will have anything to say on this one if it gains any traction? Call this the "we want Arizona to be the most regressively-taxed state in the country!" resolution. Other revenue reduction measures include HCR2009 (John Kavanagh), banning estate taxes; HCR2011 (David Gowan) exempting from taxation property used for agricultural purposes or for a trade or business; HB2526 (Frank Antenori), exempting property used for firearms instruction from taxation;

- SCR1007 (Carolyn Allen), HCR2012 (Matt Heinz), HCR2017 (Andy Tobin), HCR2024 (Sam Crump), HCR2029 (Tom Chabin), HCR2030 (Chabin), HCR2031 (Chabin) - all relating to term limits, resign to run, or other areas affecting the ability of legislators to remain legislators.

- HB2557 (Lucy Mason), opting the state of out compliance with the federal "No Child Left Behind" Act

- HB2556 (Mason), barring counties with more than an unspecified number of residents from having an elected county superintendent of schools, shrinking the power of school boards, and for other purposes

- HB2555 (Mason) , repealing full day kindergarten

- HB2543 (Gowan), barring cities, towns and counties from enacting any firearms regulations that are stricter than those enacted by the lege. In other words, no banning guns in parks and other public areas. More gun nuttery: HB2406, expanding last year's "guns in bars" law (hint: "ignorance of the law" will become a valid defense if this one becomes law)

- HB2495 (Debbie Lesko), forcing the state's welfare department to issue electronic "benefits transfer cards" to recipients of food stamps with their names on the cards and to compel the recipients to ID themselves every time they use their benefits

- HB2407 (Antenori), barring municipalities from enacting any tax specific to utility providers

- HB2417 (Carl Seel). I'm really not sure what this one does, but at first glance, it looks *really* bad. It looks like it makes that the only way to fund transportation infrastructure projects will be through "wealth-based debt-free" bank created monies. Whatever the hell that means, it specifically doesn't include taxes or bonds. Given the meltdown of the financial system that took place during the Bush Administration, I'm leery of giving the financial industry any more sway over our society and its infrastructure.

- HB2395 (Lauren Hendrix), barring school districts from allowing payroll deductions for payment of dues to teacher's unions

- HB2382 (Seel), forcing school districts to collect and report to the state data an information on possibly undocumented students

- HB2281 (Steve Montenegro), barring ethnic studies courses in K - 12. Surprisingly, the names of Russell Pearce and John Kavanagh aren't on this one, even though it is right down their nativist alley. Perhaps the "Statement of Policy" section is what has dissuaded them from supporting the measure.
"The legislature finds and declares that public school pupils should be taught to treat and value each other as individuals and not based on ethnic background."
Treating people based on their individual qualities and not their ethnic backgrounds?

Not a concept that the likes of Pearce and Kavanagh want to see take hold in society.

BTW - That statement of policy was a good start; too bad the rest of the bill doesn't live up to that promising beginning.

- HB2261 (Rich Crandall), expanding the Governing Board of the Maricopa County Community College District with two "at large" members elected county-wide. Call this one the "Republicans want to keep destroying all levels of the state's education system, no matter what" bill. My guess is that while they are worried about losing seats in particular districts, they expect to maintain their dominance over countywide elections and want to use that to keep control even when they lose the majority of voters in particular districts

- HB2248 (Andy Biggs), barring Arizona participation in the Western Climate Initiative. Related: HB2214 (Biggs) barring Arizona government participation in interstate affiliations or groups without express legislative approval

- HB2246 (Biggs), preempting local regulation of consumer fireworks

- HB2226 (Hendrix), relating to school employment decisions. Among other things, would bar school districts from using seniority as a criteria in determining teacher retention

- SB1128 (Melvin), a bill to protect the ability to use public facilities of the Boy Scouts and other organizations that discriminate against members based on their sexual orientation or religious beliefs

- SB1126 (Melvin), Declaring that nuclear fuel (uranium) mined in AZ isn't subject to federal regulation. Ummm...yeah... Something tells me that the feds will politely beg to differ.

Tedski's take here.

- And my personal nominee for the least relevent bill by a legislator during a fiscal crisis:

HCR2008 (Jerry Weiers), an amendment to the AZ Constitution that adds a new civil right to that hallowed list, one that includes things like free speech, a free press, due process of law, habeas corpus and others -

The right to hunt and fish.

To readers: this post ended up being far longer than I expected, and thank you for reading this far.

The sad part is that the current list of bill proposals is nowhere near complete. Expect another 400 - 5oo of them plus 75 - 100 strike-everything amendments before the session is complete.


I do have one question though:

When is the next, and hopefully final, special session to fix the FY2010 budget deficit?

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