March 13,2018 | Triadvocates
1. With only two more weeks to hear bills in committee, members of the Legislature now turn their attention to the biggest policy document of the year—the state budget. With our healthy economy, the current budget is running approximately $247 million above forecast, however, much of the new money has been earmarked for ongoing formula spending and a commitment to K-12. Leadership in the House and Senate are polling their members to better understand their budget priorities. This information will be used to negotiate a final budget deal between both chambers and the governor. We expect these budget fights to increase over the next three weeks and hopefully an agreement will be made by the first part of April.
2. Yesterday, Bernie Sanders rallied supporters alongside Democratic Arizona Congressmen Ruben Gallego and Raúl Grijalva at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Phoenix. Urging voters to keep fighting for change, he hit on the topics of education, DACA and minimum wage—and called out Arizona leaders for the fiasco that left voters waiting in hours-long lines to cast their ballot in the 2016 presidential primary. Sanders drew a young and diverse crowd, filling the1,200-capacity theater, but gave no hints about whether he was eyeing a 2020 presidential run. Don’t call it a comeback…yet.
3. Last week, the House passed a proposal establishing a system that could force cities to move their local elections to even-numbered years, essentially nixing the current practice of municipalities holding elections on their own schedule. Claiming it will increase turnout, the highly contentious concept has been pushed by Republicans in previous years, only to have it swatted down in 2014 by the state Court of Appeals as unconstitutional. HB2604 passed along party lines, with Democrats arguing that the move is not only unnecessary but an infringement by state lawmakers on the rights of cities and their residents to decide what works best for them. The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.
4. All eyes are on CD8—despite the fact that Republican Debbie Lesko is strongly favored to win the special election next month. The district, which leans to older voters who are more politically active, is one of the most conservative in the state, yet early polling indicates a closer-than-expected race. While Lesko maintains a very comfortable lead over Democrat Hiral Tipirneni, the dynamics in this district will be a good indication of how the changing political landscape will play out at the ballot box in November. If polling continues to show a decreasing gap between parties in CD8, the GOP will really start feeling the heat, as all statewide offices are up for reelection in November, including Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, who is running for his second term as governor.
5. Last week, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton delivered his seventh and final “State of the City” address to a packed ballroom, opening by touting recent reports of Phoenix as the “highest performing city government in the country.” Stanton, who is expected to resign any day to focus on his run for the CD9 seat vacated by U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, highlighted projects and programs achieved through “bipartisan cooperation” and focused on innovation, the tech economy, and the Phoenix we build for the next generation. You can read Stanton’s prepared remarks here.
Senator (and aspiring comedian) David Bradley during a hearing in the Senate Health Committee on a bill that will continue the Arizona Acupuncture Board:
“Well, that puts a sharp point on it…”
And, shortly thereafter, on a bill concerning telepharmacy:
“That sounds like an easy pill to swallow.”