February 14th, 2018
Howdy, Friends O’Farley…
Happy Statehood Day, Arizona!
Let’s take a few minutes to honor the public service of Arizona’s founders who had the guts to establish a state on February 14, 1912, that put people first. Our Constitution enshrines the right to citizen initiative and referendum in Article 4, Section 1 — the section that establishes the Legislature — and includes the words, “The people reserve the power to propose laws and amendments…”
The first initiative was passed in November 1912 and gave women the equal right to vote — nearly eight years before the U.S. Constitution bestowed that right.
Today, this Governor and the legislative majority continue to attack the citizen initiative and referendum process, and refuse to approve the Equal Rights Amendment for women. Looks like our current leaders need to take a few lessons from Arizona history.
Read on for a few more examples of why we need to change the current leadership.
But first, the Pledge Break…
—> I am doing everything I can to be your next governor. This election offers the best opportunity in years to create real change in Arizona. Imagine our state as a light unto the nation, not a joke on late-night television. A place where public education is fully funded and everyone has quality, affordable healthcare and the opportunity to work at a livable wage. This future is within our reach, but I need your help in two ways:
1) Please contribute what you can. We are up against the Koch Brothers’ favorite son and we will need thousands of small donations to defeat Ducey’s few huge ones. He reported that his average campaign contribution in 2017 was $1,900 per donor, including $5,100 from Charles Koch himself. Only 5 donors contributed $25 or less. But his money from out-of-state billionaires won’t be as strong as your deep engagement — this will be unlike any other election in our lifetimes. Ducey can’t buy Arizona. This is our time, but only if you help.
2) Please sign my nominating petition to help me qualify for the ballot in November 2018. Please tell your friends and ask them to sign my petition. The first step to bringing change to Arizona is to put me on the ballot! The only way we win this is together, and I am honored to have your support. You can find my petition here.
—> Yesterday in Senate Appropriations Committee we continued to hear agency reports. For the first several weeks of each session, we hear from Joint Legislative Budget Committee (JLBC) analysts and from state agency directors themselves as they present their budget requests and key programs, the Governor’s budget requests for them, and the JLBC objective analysis of both and whether they match up with budget reality.
I always enjoy these hearings because we get to look under the hood of the state budget and drill down on specific policy issues that can affect thousands of our citizens for better or worse. This is an opportunity to question the agency directors in public to identify hidden changes in policy, follow ongoing data on what programs have worked or not worked, and identify changes that can improve the workings of our government.
One of the agencies we heard from today was AHCCCS, Arizona’s Medicaid program. In 2013, in one of my proudest moments as a legislator, the Democratic caucus and I worked with Governor Jan Brewer (with whom I disagreed on most things) and a few moderate Republicans to expand AHCCCS healthcare coverage to 400,000 people in poverty.
Before we passed this expansion several hospitals went bankrupt and most others were struggling with the cost of unreimbursed care. The next year, unreimbursed care costs were cut by two-thirds. Our hospitals today remain healthy because of this unexpected political alliance that came together to improve lives.
Yesterday we heard from AHCCCS and JLBC that Governor Ducey is seeking federal approval to unravel that success with two dramatic changes in policy.
First, he proposes to increase the Hospital Assessment fee by 14% — $35.2 million. This fee is paid by our hospitals to draw down the federal funds that have expanded AHCCCS since 2013, and was not intended to be used for other purposes. Ducey proposes to use this money to add revenues to his budget for other purposes — in effect raising costs on hospitals and increasing healthcare costs for all of us. The AHCCCS director told us that hospitals were not consulted.
Second, and even more egregious, Ducey is seeking a waiver from the federal government to force anyone receiving AHCCCS to have to work at least 20 hours a week in order to stay eligible, and to establish a five-year lifetime limit for coverage for everyone.
Governor Ducey is apparently not aware that, sadly, poverty does not come with a maximum lifetime limit of five years.
Details are sparse, since the director said that Ducey won’t decide on details until he gets his waiver, but the Trump administration has already signaled that they love these kinds of waivers.
Remember the time before AHCCCS was expanded by an unexpected bipartisan alliance? When hospitals were going under from the costs of covering uninsured people? These policies will take us back there again. Once current AHCCCS members reach their five-year limit and are still in poverty and without health insurance, they will be returning to hospital emergency rooms again and pushing them to their financial brink, endangering our entire healthcare system.
Instead of punishing the poor, let’s work to eliminate poverty. Invest in public education at every level to allow ladders of opportunity for everyone to rise. Create an affordable, universal healthcare system that works for all of us. We can do this, with the right leadership.
—> This week has also featured the beginning of some new Water Wars at the legislature.
Especially in Arizona, water is life. In 1980, after three years of hard work in open meetings that included all water stakeholders from across Arizona, Governor Bruce Babbitt signed the Groundwater Management Act. This was landmark legislation that created the concept of linking development rights to the assurance of a 100-year water supply in Active Management Areas (AMAs) where the threat of drought and overpumping was most severe.
While certainly some updates should be made, on the whole the code has stood the test of time, in large part because of the transparent and open process that led to its creation. We all stand to gain if water management is done right, and we all work together, no matter how diverse our interests.
In stark contrast to Governor Babbitt’s process, Governor Ducey and his chief of staff Kirk Adams have been holding secret meetings on water with hand-picked stakeholders since last summer. Worse yet, some leaks from those meetings suggest that the Governor was more interested in solving unrelated political problems for himself rather than improving our water sustainability for all Arizonans.
Some of the people not picked to be in these meetings were key Republican legislators who do not take kindly to being overlooked, and they are now starting to push their own water vision which could take things in the opposite direction.
Rep. Rusty Bowers and Sen. Gail Griffin pushed their own bills this week, HB2512 and SB1507, which also have had no public stakeholder process, and which pose major threats to the few remaining Arizona rivers including the San Pedro by weakening provisions for water adequacy outside AMAs.
Thankfully, the Governor’s office signed in against these bills, but seemed to have done so not because the bills are bad, but rather because they didn’t control the process.
We can’t guarantee Arizona’s water security by secretly developing dueling plans and battling it out.
The only way for us to assure a secure water supply for all of us into the future is to do the long, hard work of public process, including everyone at the table and enabling us all to sacrifice together for mutual benefit. We can do this, with the right leadership.
—> In honor of Statehood Day, I’ve spent the past week traveling all over Arizona, getting people excited about the promise of a state government dedicated to serving the people instead of enriching insiders.
I presented my ideas to a neighborhood gathering in Glendale, spoke to the LD17 Democrats in Gilbert, got the crowd at the Sun Lakes Democrats pumped up for change, and was utterly inspired at the 25th anniversary Fresh Brunch honoring Linda Elliott and the phenomenal one.n.ten organization in Phoenix. The always impressive Mayor Coral Evans hosted an event for me in Flagstaff, and I kicked off our Phoenix headquarters with a great crowd of Farley supporters.
Wherever you live, you, too, can join our campaign so we can finally get the leadership we deserve right here in the state we love.
Thanks for your continuing faith in me as your Senator.
Senator, District 9, Tucson
If you like my representation and want to keep me in office, CONTRIBUTE TODAY!
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February 15, 2018