Howdy, Friends O'Farley…
Welcome to the sixth annual weekly edition of the Farley Report, since we are now officially under way at the Capitol as the 50th Legislature, Second Regular Session.
I hope you all had a healing weekend among friends and family as we honored those we lost on January 8, 2011, and celebrated our strength and passion as a united community that has proven we can rise above horrific events to move forward together.
I was particularly humbled that Gabby and her family and staff visited the Gabe Zimmerman Memorial Trailhead on Saturday, and she said about the tile artwork I created to honor Gabe, "Good stuff. Real good stuff."
You can read the article about her visit and see the photos here:
Before I launch into the latest Capitol happenings, I want to officially announce that I will be running for State Senate this year in the newly drawn District 9, now stretching from Speedway on the south to Lambert Lane on the north, from I-10 on the west to Sabino Creek on the east.
You can view the exact lines of this (and all other) legislative districts on the official Google Map here: http://maps.google.com/maps?q=http:%2F%2Fwww.azredistricting.org%2FMaps%2FTentative-Final-Maps%2FLegislative%2Fdata%2FTenative-Final-Legislative-Map.kmz&hl=en&sll=34.168218,-111.930907&sspn=8.076705,14.27124&vpsrc=0&t=h&z=7
Current Senator Paula Aboud is termed out, so the seat is vacant in the new District 9. If you live in the Catalina Foothills, Casas Adobes, Tucson north of Speedway and west of Craycroft, and unincorporated Pima County north of Tucson, and you'd like to keep me in the Legislature as your voice, eyes, and ears, I will be honored to serve you. Please sign up to volunteer, contribute, or endorse at:
Opening Day for the Centennial Legislature was yesterday, and I had high hopes that the Governor in her State of the State speech would rise to the occasion with some statesmanlike words, calling on us all to work together for the good of all our citizens.
I had invited as my guests on the House floor -- along with my two daughters -- my friends outgoing Mayor Bob Walkup (R) and new Mayor Jonathan Rothschild (D) to demonstrate how we can and must work together, regardless of our party affiliation, to move our state forward.
Perhaps the Governor would reach across the aisle and assert that our problems are too big for one party to solve, and we would need each legislator's hard work and creativity to get our second century off to a strong start.
Alas, it was not to be. After showing us some wonderful portraits of Arizona ranchers by photographer Scott Baxter (inadvertently demonstrating the value of the arts despite her actions of last year that eliminated funding for the Arizona Arts Commission), she launched on a series of highly partisan cheap shots attacking Democrats in general, the President in particular, and anyone who would stand in the way of more tax cuts for big out-of-state corporations.
The arbitrarily aggressive tone struck me as really petty and unnecessary, since there are so many problems in our state that need bipartisan efforts for real solutions. I actually support her idea of jumpstarting the I-11 corridor between Phoenix and Las Vegas, which includes passenger rail in the median that would hook up with the Tucson to Phoenix rail line. That could create good jobs in many sectors while improving our transportation options. Why attack the President on whom she called to provide the funding, and attack legislators like me who would like to work with her on infrastructure projects, simply because we are not of her party?
The answer may be that the Governor does not believe there are any problems left in this state. She proudly declared, "Arizona is saved!" And she told us she was the one who saved us.
I think that would be news to the 10,000 teachers and other school employees who have lost their jobs in the past two years, and our kids who have to make do in overcrowded classrooms. That would also be news to the thousands and thousands of families who have lost their homes to foreclosure and the nearly 300,000 people who have lost their jobs since she took office.
She proclaimed that the budget is balanced. Indeed, we will have a surplus of more than a half billion dollars this fiscal year by most accounts. But as I shared with you last June when the surplus began mounting, the Joint Legislative Budget Committee revealed that the majority of that surplus was provided by foreclosed homeowners who could no longer claim their home mortgage deduction on their income taxes.
Additionally, we know that we will fall off a financial cliff in fiscal year 2014, once the temporary one-cent sales tax for education expires (which the Governor announced she would not support replacing). By fiscal 2015, the deficit is projected to be as high as $1.5 billion once more.
Fiscal 2015 is also the year that last year's huge Brewer-Legislature corporate bailout bill kicks in fully, giving away more than a half-billion dollars a year in tax breaks to big out of state corporations with no guarantee of any new job creation.
This year's surplus does not mean a balanced budget -- it means that Governor Brewer and Tea Party legislators have successfully shifted the revenue structure off of the rich and big corporations and onto the middle class through foreclosures, their sales tax increase, their property tax increases, and the gutting of our public schools, community colleges, and universities.
She did find the time in her speech to identify one crucial problem that she thinks needs to be solved -- the persecution of rich people. She asked us to join her in "securing the freedom to increase your income without someone telling you that you're making too much money."
I have to admit, I don't recall many conversations with constituents about them having too much money. Lack of work, foreclosures, school cuts, those I hear. Too much money -- not so much. Perhaps the Governor travels in different circles.
The Governor's big policy proposal was to give ourselves a Centennial present of buying back our capitol buildings from those Wall Street banks that she sold them to less than two years ago. Since I thought that was a really bad move at the time, I would like to do this, too, but the problem is, there's a $24 million prepayment penalty in the contract. So we would need to pay the $81 million we got as principal, plus that 30% interest penalty for a total of $105 million in return for having a two-year loan. Perhaps payday lending is back?
For my centennial present I would like to ask Governor Brewer to spend that $105 million on improving our kids' schools, fixing our crumbling streets, and creating real jobs for real Arizonans, not dishing out more profits for Wall Street banks.
Now that the Governor has left the House and is selling her vision around the state, I am getting to work here at the capitol to try to get my alternative agenda in place, and am actually having some success obtaining support from colleagues of both parties. As I file my bills, I will let you know what they are and how they are doing week to week. Stay tuned next Tuesday for a different vision for how we grow a stronger state in the next 100 years.
As you know, the only special interest I report to is you. Please consider helping out my campaign for the State Senate as I carry out my leadership duties to recruit, support, and elect a new generation of Arizona leaders. I can't do this alone. I need your support right now.
---> You can contribute up to $424 per person online by going to my newly updated website and clicking on the "Contribute" button. Thanks so much for helping us transform our state. Every dollar you can share will make a difference. <---
Thanks for your continuing faith in me as your Representative.
Arizona State Representative, District 28
Assistant Minority Leader
Ranking Member, Transportation Committee
Ways & Means Committee
Capitol office: 602-926-3022
Tucson office: 520-398-6000
Official email: email@example.com
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