Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Coming Week: Legislative Edition, chapter 2 - Money

As usual, all info gathered from the website of the legislature, except where noted, and subject to change without notice.

This post will cover the money committees - Senate Appropriations and Finance and House Approps and House Ways and Means.

...House Ways and Means will meet on Monday at 2 p.m. in HHR1.

One potentially bad bill that is up for consideration is HB2505. This proposal from Rep. Rick Murphy (R-LD9) would mandate a change in the standards that are used to review and evaluate income tax credits. He wants to add the language "SHALL INCLUDE, TO THE EXTENT PRACTICABLE, A REVIEW OF THE ECONOMIC IMPACT OF THE CREDIT USING DYNAMIC ANALYSIS OR OTHER TECHNIQUES THAT ESTIMATE THE TAXPAYER BEHAVIORAL CHANGES OR MODIFICATIONS IN PATTERNS OF ECONOMIC ACTIVITY."

"Dynamic analysis"? "...Estimate..."?

Sounds like "smoke and mirrors" and "guesswork" calculated to generate a desired result.

Other bills of interest -

- A striker to HB2515 that would change the way that the sales tax (aka "transaction privilege tax") is assessed on contractors. It seems to lower the tax, but there is no fiscal note for this one (a common characteristic for Republican-sponsored tax bills - they don't want Arizonans to know how much the R gifts to Big Business are costing Arizona).

- A striker to HCR2057 that would allow the lege to appropriate "non-custodial federal monies." In short, if this becomes law, the lege could sweep things like community block grants and spend the money where it wants to.

- HCR2061, redefining property tax limits and cutting property taxes as a result. No fiscal note attached.

- HB2597, mandating that any new TPT or use tax exemption or deduction created by the lege have a specific repeal date as part of the legislation creating it. As this measure was proposed by a Democratic member, Tom Chabin (D-LD2), it comes with a fiscal note.

...House Appropriations will meet on Wednesday at 1 p.m. in HHR1. The agenda is short, but colorful.

"Colorful" being a euphemism for "pretty damn ugly and having very little to do with 'appropriations'."

On the agenda -

- A presentation on "Potential State Parks Operating Concession Agreements". Aka - privatizing the operation of state parks.

- a striker to HB2177, relating to "prison bed utilization; cost savings." The text of the striker isn't available online as yet.

- HB2226, relating to "school districts; personnel decisions." Sounds innocuous, until one reads the details.

No teacher contracts that allow for compensated days off for "professional organization activities" (union work, like rallying at the Capitol in support of public education) or for using tenure or seniority as part of job retention decisions.

- HB2385, changing the way that schools calculate "average daily membership," or the number of students enrolled in a school. This number affects school expenditure limits and the amount of financial support is receives. Not sure exactly what the impact of the proposed changes will be, but as this proposal is from a Republican, the expectation is that it won't be beneficial for students or teachers.

- HCR2038, a proposed amendment to the state constitution to reduce the Governor's power to use a line-item veto on their appropriations bills. Yes, they are still ticked off about last summer's budget debacle where they tried to force the Governor to sign some really bad budget bills by sending them to her at the very last possible moment and adjourning sine die before she could veto them.

In what has turned out to be the Accidental Governor's only bright moment, she did so anyway, forcing a special session to be called. That one and the ones that followed it haven't worked out so well, but let's give her credit in one of the few places that she has earned it.

Across the quad at the Senate...

,,,Senate Appropriations will meet on Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. in SHR109. As with House Approps, this agenda is a colorful one.

With the same caveat about the meaning of "colorful" in this context.

On the agenda -

- SB1017, Russell Pearce's bill to grant his friend, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, independence from the fiscal oversight of the county board of supervisors.

- SB1019, Pearce's bill to create a "joint legislative committee on evidence based practices in government programs." "Evidence based" practices are those that have a history to fall back on in evaluating their effectiveness; under Pearce's scheme, nothing innovative would be allowed when working to determine the course of state, county, and local government programs.

- a striker to SB1108 relating to "state shared revenues" that isn't posted online as yet. I'm not the only one who has noticed this and is worried about it - Pearce has not bothered to hide his fervent desire to devastate cities and towns by cutting the amount of revenue that the state shares with them.

- SB1391 (with an amendment offered by the author, Russell Pearce) to direct the state Department of Administration to privatize criminal background checks (for child care workers, health care providers, etc.) The bill is so specific in its requirements for a company to do that activity that it seems to limit the possible awarding of a contract to a few, or even one, specific companies.

- SB1403, Pearce's scheme to allow his friend, County Attorney Andrew Thomas, to serve subpoenas related to gathering evidence for enforcement of Pearce's anti-immigrant employer sanctions law by certified mail, and other changes, easing the conduct of Pearce's Inquistion.

...Senate Finance will meet Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. in SHR3. As with House Ways and Means, the agenda here is filled with tax-related proposals.

Most of the bills seek to lower taxes for specific groups, but the most egregious example of this sort of favoritism is Thayer Verschoor's SB1332. That one would completely exempt Arizona-based banks from the state's income tax.


Yes, this "Thayer Verschoor" is the same "Thayer Verschoor" who is running for State Treasurer, and it looks like he may already be trolling for PAC campaign contributions.

This agenda (actually, all of them) is worthy of attention from people who are more expert in the area covered by it and who could pick up nuances that I've missed.

I'll cover the Judiciary committees as well as the rest later this afternoon...

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