Friday, October 30, 2015

AZ Kicking Kids initiative survives attacks in Senate Appropriations Committee: State Treasurers opposed, Republicans united, Dems divided

The tentative settlement in the K-12 funding lawsuit ignited fireworks in the AZ Senate reports The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required).

Current and former state Treasurers opposed for fiscal reasons

... former treasurer Dean Martin called the settlement deal a raid on the state’s land trust and likened it to congressional marauding of the Social Security trust fund.

"I’m disappointed that you’re not legislating this. There is no open discussion. There are no changes," [current State Treasurer Jeff] DeWit told the Senate Appropriations Committee, adding lawmakers could do a better job of drafting a settlement that would still be palatable to schools, which have sued the state over their inflation money.

Republican legislators march to Il Duce's music

... Treasurer Jeff DeWit accused lawmakers of surrendering their legislative authority by accepting a deal that he said was handed to them by Gov. Doug Ducey with instructions not to make changes.

"We’ve had this legislation written by the executive branch, and brought down here, and you’ve been [given] instructions: Don’t change anything, just get it through," he added.

Democrats divided, appear hopelessly helpless

The dividing issue is the raid on the state land trust.

Democrats on the committee were divided, with Senate Minority Leader Katie Hobbs supporting the package of legislation while Sen. Steve Farley, a Democrat from Tucson, balked at it.

Farley likened the settlement to a robber who breaks into a home, steals money and offers a portion back to the owners as restitution.

Fear is driving the support for the settlement by child and education advocates and their Democratic supporters.

Hobbs agreed with Farley’s analysis. But she quickly added, "Unfortunately, [under] the political reality that we are in right now… this is the only settlement agreement that we are going to have the opportunity ratify."

"... we need to do something right now, and if this lawsuit isn’t settled right now, it will drag on in court for who knows how much longer with maybe a chance that everything is lost," she added.

With Hobbs’ support, the legislation that resets the inflation funding for schools and provides additional money from general fund passed by a vote of 4-1.

The full Senate is scheduled to vote on the settlement today (Oct 30th).

Once the dust settles, it will be interesting to see how Democratic legislators vote[d] on this travesty - and how they explain those votes.

For thorough analyses and objections to the settlement, see example posts by bloggers AZBlueMeanie and Scriber, and columnist Tim Steller.

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