The Farley Report from Phoenix #162: 8-21-12

Howdy, Friends O'Farley… 

Before we get into the policy news, I want to thank you all for a totally humbling show of support to our campaign last week. In less than 18 hours after I sent out the email, 78 of you contributed more than $5,000 to help us in our efforts to end extremism in the Arizona Legislature.

Let's keep that positive momentum going: Please contribute, $25, $50, or even $200 to our campaign TODAY, and sign up as a volunteer to join me as I walk door to door or phone voters -- my campaign manager Alma always has great treats for Farley volunteers! 

I am walking every afternoon and Saturday mornings, and the weather has actually been pretty good lately. Email Alma for details on where you can meet us for walking, and if you want to make phone calls to your neighbors, just drop by the Ron Barber HQ at 3400 E. Speedway behind Ike's Coffee. You can phone on behalf of Ron, Rich Carmona, and me at the same time. 

Since last month's Farley Report, our campaign has been honored with another nine organizational endorsements from across the political spectrum, joining firefighters, police, teachers, realtors, doctors, and contractors. This month's supporters include:

--> Arizona Academy of Family Physicians
--> Arizona State Building and Construction Trades Council
--> Sierra Club, Grand Canyon Chapter
--> Arizona Pipe Trades
--> Arizona Society of Practicing Accountants
--> International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
--> Arizona League of Conservation Voters
--> Arizona State Contractors Coalition
--> Communications Workers of America, Arizona Chapter

You can view this wonderful array of 18 community organizations on my Endorsement Page, and add your name, too!

And email Alma if you would like to host me for a houseparty, or host a snazzy new Farley sign in your yard.

Thank you so much for your support. We will do this together.

Meanwhile back at the Capitol…

There is some great news for those of us who are committed to improving our schools so that our kids can compete in the new economy. The Citizens' Quality Education & Jobs Initiative -- Prop 204 -- will not only be on the ballot, it will be described in a fair and impartial way in the voter pamphlet.

Let's recap:  A little over two years ago, voters overwhelmingly approved a one-cent sales tax that was sold to us as being for education. Despite the voters' will, the legislative majority cut more than $2 billion from our public schools anyway, and there was nothing in the law to stop them from doing so. They decided instead to use the money from that sales tax to build new private prisons and engineer huge tax giveaways to large, primarily out-of-state corporations.

That poorly designed sales tax expires next May. Last year parents and business leaders from around the state (led by Tucson's own powerhouse parent Ann-Eve Pedersen), recognizing Arizona's crisis in education, crafted a citizen initiative that would for the first time provide a dedicated source of funding for education--a sales tax that would start the day after the current tax ends, so there will be no tax increase.

The legal language of the initiative will stop any future legislatures from stealing that money for their own purposes. A large portion of the money will be distributed according to accountability and performance standards, ensuring that our entire school system will improve and link to our university system, community colleges, and JTED technical training.

Back in June, community leaders from around the state turned in nearly 300,000 signatures from Arizona voters to qualify Prop 204 for the ballot. Within 24 hours, they were met in political battle by Secretary of State Ken Bennett, and the Republican-dominated Legislative Council. Both parties were pretty upset at the idea of a dedicated source of funding for education that couldn't be raided by the Legislature or Governor.

First, Secretary Bennett rejected the petitions because the organizers had accidentally turned in a faulty paper copy of the initiative at the same time as they turned in a correct electronic copy on disk. The correct copy had also been attached to all the petitions as the signatures had been gathered, so there was no real problem.

Then, Legislative Council met and approved (with only Republican votes--several of whom have already filed arguments against 204 that will be printed in the voter pamphlet) ballot language that was intended to cast the initiative in a bad light in several ways, including calling it a "tax increase" although it keeps the tax the same, and making a false inference that scholarships would go to illegal immigrants. I sit on Legislative Council as a minority member, so I offered a comprehensive amendment that would take out the biased language -- it failed on a party line vote.

The folks behind Prop 204 took Secretary Bennett and the Legislature to court on both counts, and won. Sadly, both the Secretary and the legislative majority decided to continue wasting taxpayer money on their own attorneys and appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court, which ruled once again last week in favor of the citizens of Arizona in both cases. 

So we had quite a bit of drama, and more than a little taxpayer money wasted by the legislative majority along the way, but in the end we will get to vote yes on Prop 204 this November and set our schools on the road to recovery so our kids can lead our state to recovery for the rest of this century.

Thanks for your continuing faith in me as your Representative. 


Steve Farley

Paid for by Friends O'Farley