This Week in Arizona Politics: 5 Things to Know

April 23,2018 | Triadvocates

1. House and Senate rules dictate that the Legislature shall finish its work by the Saturday following the 100th day of the session. This year, that day was April 17.  On Thursday, the Senate President and Speaker of the House officially extended the session for an additional seven days. From here on, the session can only be extended by a majority vote of both chambers. Unfortunately, there is no limit on the number of extensions the body can approve. However, after the 120th day, legislative per diem will get cut in half. This decrease in pay has never seemed to motivate members to move quicker, but hopefully we won’t have to test it this year.

2. Last week, Gov. Doug Ducey tapped former Arizona Board of Regents President Eileen Klein to serve as state treasurer until the November election. Klein unexpectedly resigned from the board of regents last week, but says she has no plans to run for a full term as treasurer. She will fill the vacancy created by former state Treasurer Jeff DeWit, who resigned April 3 to become NASA’s chief financial officer. Less than 48 hours after Klein’s appointment, Arizona Corporation Commissioner Tom Forese stunned the Capitol when he announced, via Twitter, that he’s dropping out of the race for treasurer and that he won’t be running for re-election to the Corporation Commission. At this point, state Sen. Kimberly Yee is now the only declared Republican candidate for treasurer. State Rep. Mark Cardenas and attorney Mark Manoil are vying for the Democratic slot on the ballot.

3. Legislators spent last week learning more about Gov. Doug Ducey’s latest budget proposal to give teachers a 20 percent pay raise by 2020 and restore school additional assistance. On Thursday, they were thrown a curveball when the Arizona Educators United (AEU) and Arizona Education Association (AEA) announced that 78 percent of the 57,000 teachers and support staff voted in support of a walkout. “Walk-ins” will continue today, tomorrow and Wednesday, and the official walkout will begin on Thursday. 

The groups are giving the Legislature and the Governor’s Office until this Thursday (April 26) to make “movement” on the following five #RedforEd demands:

  • 20 percent pay raise this year
  • Competitive salary for support staff
  • Permanent salary structure that includes annual raises for certified staff 
  • Ban on new tax cuts unitl per-pupil funding reaches the national average 
  • Restoration of K-12 funding to the 2008 level 

At this point, it’s unclear what effect the walkout will have on the Legislature. Legislative leadership plans to continue budget negotiations and has indicated that the walkout is unlikely to expedite the process.

Late Friday afternoon, Gov. Doug Ducey exercised his veto authority on 10 House Republican-sponsored bills. The bills ranged in subject matter from electronic wills to JTEDs. Each veto was accompanied by an identical letter with only the following four sentences:

“Today, I vetoed HBXXXX. Please, send me a budget that gives teachers a 20 percent raise by 2020 and restores additional assistance. Our teachers have earned this raise. It’s time to get it done.”

The veto letters came less than 24 hours after teachers voted to strike. The governor currently has 10 remaining bills on his desk, which he must sign or veto early this week—if he fails to take action within five days (excluding Sundays) of transmittal, they will become law without his signature. While he has indicated that the remaining bills will be considered “according to merit,” members and outside advocacy groups continue to wait in anxious anticipation.

In a special election tomorrow, voters in Congressional District 8 will choose a successor to Trent Franks, who resigned in December. Recent polling indicates that the race between Republican Debbie Lesko, a former state senator, and Democrat Hiral Tipirneni, a doctor and political newcomer, is much closer than expected. The GOP has a clear advantage in the district, with 80,000 more registered members than the Democratic Party. If Tipirneni wins, it will make her the first Democrat that CD8 has sent to Congress since 1980.

In other election news, Gov. Doug Ducey now has a challenger in the Republican primary this August. On Saturday, former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett announced that he will make another run for governor after his unsuccessful bid in the six-way GOP primary four years ago.

Representative Mark Cardenas: “I’d like to announce that Representative Shope and I have created the Arizona Future Caucus, which is a new bipartisan caucus for those of us under the age of 40. The group will talk about millennial issues moving forward, so I invite my younger colleagues to participate.”


Rep. John Allen: “Since when is 40 young?”

When Mike Gardner met with lawmakers in Washington D.C. last week, he brought along a secret weapon—his 17-year-old daughter, Cameron, who met with U.S. Senator Jeff Flake, U.S. Reps. Ruben Gallego, Tom O'Halleran, Kyrsten Sinema, Paul Gosar, David Schweikert and Martha McSally. Thanks for keeping Congress in line, Cameron.

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