Statement from President Andy Biggs on Stay Being Issued in K-12 Funding Lawsuit

“The Arizona Court of Appeals has issued a stay of the lower court’s judgment in the K-12 inflation funding case. I am gratified by this decision. This ruling is an indication the court understands the ongoing efforts of the Legislature and other parties to come to a resolution. While the plaintiffs continue to argue that the case is long resolved, this week’s stay is one more truth that the issue is not resolved, and is in fact continuing to work its way through the courts.”

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Sen. Yarbrough Named Leader of the Year in Public Policy

Sen. Yarbrough 2015Senator Steve Yarbrough, the Majority Leader at the State Senate, has been named 2015 Arizona Capitol Times Leader of the Year in Public Policy. Senator Yarbrough was chosen for the honor for garnering bipartisan support and making tough choices that led to the betterment of our state, including gathering the necessary votes to move the budget along this year.

Senator Yarbrough has been at the Capitol since 2002, re-elected three times from District 21 and later from District 17. He has held leadership posts in both chambers, now serving as Majority Leader in the Senate and previously as Speaker Pro Tempore in the House. An attorney and executive director of the Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization, he has helped provide scholarships to thousands of Arizona students to attend the school of their parent’s choice.

“Leaders of the Year shines a light on the individuals and organizations who have a positive impact on public policy across Arizona,” said Ginger Lamb, vice president and publisher of Arizona News Service and Arizona Capitol Times. “The awards were created back in 2006 for us to give back to the community and salute their efforts. Plus, it is the only event of its kind in our state to honor leadership and excellence in public policy.”

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Arizona Firefighters Salute LD14 Legislators

Senator Griffin

Senator Griffin

Firefighters across the state are paying tribute to Arizona’s LD14 legislators, for their efforts to create a special license plate in support of firefighters.

HB 2524 was sponsored by Rep. David Stevens and strongly supported by Sen. Gail Griffin and Speaker of the House David Gowan. It was signed into law by Governor Ducey on March 23. It establishes a Firefighter Special License Plate to help the Arizona Firefighters Fund.

The fund was established at the Arizona Community Foundation in 2012. The Arizona State Fire School conducts classes for nearly 1,000 firefighters. Supporters have been attempting to build a permanent endowment covering the Fire School’s tuition costs for 500 rural firefighters each year. Funds from sales of the license plate will help those efforts.

“The Arizona State Fire Training Committee and the rural firefighters in Arizona are very appreciative in all the hard work by our local legislators. Senator Griffin, Representative Stevens and Speaker Gowan have supported the fire service by passing legislation for the new Fire Training License Plate. The revenue generated by the plate will go to providing critical life safety training to rural Arizona firefighters by supporting the Arizona Firefighters Fund,” says 2014 Arizona Fire Chief of the Year Randy Redmond, recently retired from the Sierra Vista Fire Department.

For more information on the Arizona Firefighters Fund, go to

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Statement from President Andy Biggs on release of Legislative Democrats’ education funding plan

“The much-hyped education funding plan from Democrats in the Legislature is out, and to say I am underwhelmed would be an understatement. I don’t think it’s fair to other plans to even call this a ‘plan’.

The bulk of the money in their concept is based on the hope that revenues will continue to grow at a level of $250 million or more for the next seven years. Nothing new or creative here; just project that we are going to grow at a brisk pace and, voila, there’s money for K-12 funding. In this proposal, there is no mention of settling the Cave Creek lawsuit, and in fact the education funding inflator is not even discussed.

Something else that is a bit ironic. The increased revenues that they are sweeping to increase K-12 funding only exist because of the conservative budgets enacted by Republicans in the past several years. Budgets they angrily opposed at the time.

In their proposal, the Democrats are also not providing any increased funding to other state needs; it all goes to K-12. What about higher education, public safety and transportation? Do you agree with Legislative Democrats that those areas deserve no increase in funding?

In their zealous desire to oppose any Republican idea, Democrats have rolled out a simple plan that’s not worth the napkin it was written on.”

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Sen. Yee Announces Plan for Reforms, Accountability at State Boards and Commissions

Follows her investigation into per diem abuse at Industrial Commission

51st Legislative Session 013    Senator Kimberly Yee today announced her intentions to introduce legislation in the upcoming session to address much needed reforms and heightened accountability on Arizona boards and commissions.

The announcement follows the Senator’s discovery of abuse of per diem at the Industrial Commission of Arizona (ICA). On August 18, Senator Yee met with representatives of the ICA, asking questions in advance of a Sunset Review Hearing. She learned commissioners receive $50 per day in unlimited per diem payments. Senator Yee requested more detail of those payments.

On August 25, Senator Yee chaired that Sunset Review and reported her findings. In FY 2015, one commissioner requested 292 days of per diem at a cost of $14,600. Another requested 253 days of per diem at a cost of $12,650. Following the hearing, Senator Yee received work logs of the two commissioners, and found some of those $50 requests were for responding to a single email or reading a news article.

“Members of Arizona boards and commissions should be honored to serve the public and should be accountable to the people of this State. Serving on these important boards and commissions is a public service and should not be an opportunity for these members to receive a second salary or supplemental income,” said Senator Yee.

“Taxpayers deserve to know how their money is being spent on these boards and commissions. We cannot continue to foot the bill on a system where there is an abuse of over-the-top payments made to board members and commissioners being paid thousands of dollars for simply reading a news article or responding to a work-related email.”

Senator Yee’s legislation will focus on how boards and commissions are spending administrative funds to reimburse appointees. It will also address much needed reforms to the ICA to get back to its original mission of protecting workers’ occupational health and safety.

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Senate President & House Speaker Announce Education Funding Plan

As part of an ongoing commitment to funding K-12 education, Senate President Andy Biggs and Speaker of the House David Gowan today announced a proposal to place additional money into classrooms across the state. The proposal uses four revenue streams that would infuse as much as $5 billion in new money over the next 10 years.

“K-12 funding has been one of our highest priorities in the budget each year, and as we climb out of the recession and see growing revenues, we see the opportunity to provide additional money for our classrooms, while still keeping state finances balanced,” said Senate President Andy Biggs.

The funding plan would be done without raising taxes on Arizonans, another priority for President Biggs and Speaker Gowan.

“In 2012 voters rejected a plan to raise taxes to fund education by an overwhelming margin. There clearly is no interest to increase taxes for this purpose. This proposal keeps faith with the voters by responsibly investing billions of dollars into Arizona’s classrooms without a tax hike,” said House Speaker David Gowan.

The new funding plan has four components: a commitment to continue a supplement to annual basic state aid which began in the last budget process, a new increase to annual basic state aid, a partial shift of money from the state’s First Things First program, and a plan to use increased earnings from the state trust land. In the first year alone, these four sources would bring $500 million in new money to the classroom and as much as $5 billion over the next decade.

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Senator Farnsworth to host town hall discussions

Sen. Farnsworth 2015Senator David Farnsworth will be hosting several town halls in his district, beginning with a discussion with residents on August 18 at Superstition Manor in east Mesa. The town hall begins at 7 p.m. at 10744 E. Brown Road.

Senator Farnsworth says these town halls will be a great opportunity to meet with ‘real people’. “Even though I have an open door policy at my office here at the Capitol, I know there are many people who are just not able to make the trip. With these gatherings, I am coming to you, to hear your concerns.”

Senator Farnsworth says there is no issue off-limits, big or small. “I want people to get involved in the political process, so we can help improve their lives. They’re discouraged, and feel the government is out of touch. I am going to listen to them and make sure they know they can make a difference,” said Senator Farnsworth, a Republican from Mesa.

In addition to the August 18 town hall, Superstition Manor will also host Farnsworth town halls on September 15 and October 20. Sen. Farnsworth will hold two town halls in Apache Junction, at Tres Banderas Restaurant, 1422 E Broadway Ave. at 7 pm August 27 and at the Hitching Post Bar and Grill, 2341 N Apache Trail on September 5 at 7 pm.

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