April 6, 2018

Howdy, Friends O’Farley…

Small group meetings are ongoing with Republican members and leaked budget drafts are flying around, so we are nearing budget week, with the end of session close on its heels — perhaps in the next two or three weeks.

But there’s a lot of action remaining as members rush to get their remaining bill priorities passed, we try to find a school safety compromise that does something to reduce gun violence, and we continue to work alongside red-clad teachers to push for significant raises right now. Read on more details.


But first, the Pledge Break.


—> According to our polling, we are now in a statistical tie to beat Doug Ducey in November. This is the election towards which we have been working.

1) But we can’t win without your help. Please contribute what you can. Don’t let Doug Ducey and his dark-money backers buy Arizona. Including our first-quarter results we have now raised more than $900,000, but we will need much more to spread our positive message to voters.

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!

3) Tell ten friends there is hope for Arizona — there’s a leader named Steve Farley who can govern from Day One and knows how to win. And ask them to tell ten friends. This is our best chance in years to create positive change in Arizona, but we all need to pitch in.


—> As we near the annual budget debate, I’m working every day to support teachers and the teacher-led Red for Ed movement in their efforts to support public education investment in Arizona, including 20% teacher raises. Here’s an extended excerpt from a national story on the push in Arizona from Yahoo News:

“In Arizona, where public school teachers are paid the lowest average salary in the nation, Democratic state Sen. Steve Farley has made education the central focus of his campaign to unseat Republican Gov. Doug Ducey. One of three Democrats vying for the right to challenge Ducey in November, Farley, whose parents were both public school teachers, sees an opening for his party.

“ ‘Since the ’90s our public education system has been under attack by forces that want to privatize and destroy it,’ Farley said. ‘We’ve been on the forefront of charter schools and private school vouchers, things to try and take money away from our public education system. After the Great Recession hit we saw dramatic cuts to our public school budgets. We’re at an absolute crisis point now.’

“Farley believes public school funding and teacher pay are crossover issues that will help him prevail in a race that Real Clear Politics currently describes as leaning Republican.

“ ‘I’m traveling all over the state for this campaign and I’m seeing the support for increased funding for education at a level I’ve never seen before. It’s not just from Democrats. It’s from Independents and Republicans,’ Farley said. ‘Remember back in the day when a Chamber of Commerce Republican would attend a ribbon-cutting for a new public school? It was a proud addition to a community that everybody was proud of. I think that’s still the way a whole lot of Republicans feel.’

“But Farley remains optimistic that solutions for fixing Arizona’s public schools are within reach.

“ ‘The fact is, we have the money to pay for our education system. Gov. Ducey and this Republican legislature have chosen to give it away with corporate tax cuts,’ Farley said.

“Through a spokesman, Gov. Ducey declined to be interviewed for this article, but in January he announced a plan that sought to reverse recession-era cuts to education and to settle a $1.6 billion lawsuit brought against the state by Arizona school districts over inadequate funding.

“ ‘We know Gov. Ducey and his supporters are terrified right now,’ Farley said. ‘Since January, the Koch brothers have been funneling dark money into these advertisements that have been wall to wall on television all over the state trying to say that Ducey has invested $1.5 billion into education and that he’s a great governor. All the figures are total lies, completely made up.’ ”

—> The Arizona Republic published a recording of powerful conservative lobbyist Cathi Herrod telling a group of trusted private-school allies her true motivations behind the Doug Ducey-supported expansion of the private-school voucher scheme to all 1.1 million Arizona students, putting our public school system at risk.

This excerpt from article speaks for itself:

“The program should come with as little student accountability as possible, with schools not required to report their students’ test scores to the state, Cathi Herrod, Center for Arizona Policy president, told those on the conference call. And private schools could get $4,500 per student to expand their schools — or create new campuses, she suggested.

“There was disagreement among the coalition members over testing requirements in the legislation, she says, but they will show a ‘united front’ in public.

“ ‘Some who want the test results reported to the government, it’s so they can show that private schools are doing better,’ she says. ‘I just think that’s a path that we don’t want to go down with the government.

“ ‘My concern is that if we allow government regulation of private schools, then we’re no longer private schools — we’re on our way to becoming governmental, you know, government schools.’

“Herrod later adds, ‘… And I will say — please don’t quote me on this, I need to be careful — but I think you know … we do work with the governor’s team on some of these things.’ ”

Yes, Ms. Herrod, we know all too well your long record of working so closely with Governor Ducey to attack women’s health options, LGBTQ+ people, and public education. Luckily, your ninth-floor welcome mat will be removed in November.

—> Meanwhile, those private-school vouchers are on the march yet again, with Steve Yarbrough’s SB1467 nearing a vote on the House floor to expand eligibility for students to take taxpayer money to attend private schools whether or not they ever intended to attend public schools in the first place.

Here’s my take on it, as reported by the Arizona Republic’s Rob O’Dell:

“Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, said the public should care about the details of the bill because it expands STO scholarships and the ESA program. He voted against it in the 16-14 Senate vote.

“Farley said the legislation contradicts Republican talking points about ESAs: that they save the state money because students receive less money than public schools would spend to educate them.

“ ‘It totally undercuts their entire messaging,’ Farley said. ‘If they never intend to go to the public school in the first place it’s not saving the state money, it’s just subsidizing wealthy people who are already intending to go to a private school.’ ”

We need to focus our state investment on the system being chosen by 94% of Arizona parents for their kids — public schools. It’s time to end handouts of taxpayer money to private schools.

—> A draft of Governor Ducey’s “school safety” bill came to light. While it has a few good ideas in it, like the longtime Democratic idea of strengthening orders of protection (STOP orders) to remove guns from those who are determined by a judge to be a danger to themselves or others (including domestic violence offenders), there is no expansion of background checks for prohibited possessors at all.

Without expanded background checks, someone subject to one of these new STOP orders could simply go to a gun show, or the internet, or a private party and buy another gun without having to go through a background check. It just makes sense — if someone has been adjudicated to not be allowed to have a gun, then we should be closing the gaping loopholes that allow that person to ignore the order.

Even 97% of gun owners agree with the idea of background checks on all gun sales. So what’s the problem here? This should be an easy ask of Governor Ducey, because universal background checks give teeth to the rest of his plan.

Perhaps it has something to do with the fact (just revealed by Ben Giles in the Capitol Times) that the NRA has signed off on his plan, and the NRA refuses to even consider expanding background checks.  There is even talk that an NRA representative was in the room at two different meetings with the Governor in early March as he was developing the plan.

This despite Governor Ducey’s assertion on KTAR on March 12 that he had not spoken to them about his plan. According to an article by Dustin Gardiner in the Republic:

“When a radio host on KTAR asked whether he’d spoken to the National Rifle Association about his plan, Ducey said he’s spoken to parents and local law enforcement, but not the NRA.”

Looks like Governor Ducey may have been caught in a lie. Let me make it clear: The gun industry’s proxy — the NRA — should not be a player at the table as we decide how we can keep our kids safe, and all of us safe, from gun violence in Arizona. 

—> Last week I spoke out on the Senate floor against HB2153, another attempt to override local control and Arizona voters by overturning a Tempe initiative that would end anonymous dark money in Tempe elections. In a victory for democracy, that measure was approved by an astonishing 91% of voters. 

HB2153 makes it retroactively illegal for any city, town, or county to force disclosure of political contributors that is not already required by state law — which you may recall was rewritten in 2015 by Governor Ducey and the legislative majority to favor anonymous donors over transparency.

While senators like Sylvia Allen argued that it is somehow a Constitutional right for dark-money donors to keep their identities secret, I read a quote from the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, hardly a squishy moderate:

“Requiring people to stand up in public for their political acts fosters civic courage, without which democracy is doomed. For my part, I do not look forward to a society which, thanks to the Supreme Court, campaigns anonymously . . . hidden from public scrutiny and protected from the accountability of criticism. This does not resemble the Home of the Brave.”

The Prescott Daily Courier ran an excellent editorial excoriating HB2153 in which they quoted some of my floor speech:

“Steve Farley, D-Tucson, also opposes the legislation, which would outlaw any local ordinance that requires non-profit groups that seek to influence local elections to register as political action committees. The legislation also would prohibit any local requirement to identify contributors to local political campaigns.

“Farley – noting that lawmakers are not allowed to cast legislative votes in secret – condemned the Legislature’s attempt to keep secret contributions made to local political campaigns.

“ ‘If someone takes part in the political process, it should be something that takes part in the public,’ Farley said. ‘That transparency and accountability is the foundation of democracy. If we make laws in private, if our political process takes place in private, if we don’t know who’s giving the money, then who’s going to trust the bills and laws we come up with here?’ ”

If you were hoping all these good arguments would produce a good outcome, I’m sorry to share that the bill passed along party lines and was signed by Governor Ducey to keep his dark-money donors secret. 

Good outcomes will have to wait till November 6.

—> Endorsement News:  I am so proud to have received the endorsement of Tempe Councilmember Lauren Kuby, a 29-year resident of Tempe and long-time community leader who advocates for vulnerable populations, worker protections, and climate-change action. She has led efforts for equal pay, environmental protection, earned sick days, government transparency, and campaign-finance reform. She champions cities as hubs of innovation in Arizona and defends local democracy at every turn.

In endorsing my candidacy for Governor, Councilmember Kuby said, “I’m proud to endorse Steve Farley as the next Democratic nominee for Governor of Arizona because of his long record of fighting for social, economic, and environmental justice in our state.”


“For decades, Steve has amplified the voices of everyday Arizonans by working to rid our elections of dark-money influence and empowering communities to advocate for local worker and environmental protections. Through our work together in Tempe, I have known Steve to be a champion of cities as agents of change. When Steve is our Governor, he will see cities as allies and ensure that the entire state values our vital economic and cultural contributions,” she concluded.

—> The Farley campaign rolls on bringing our good news of positive change to Arizonans everywhere.

After a long week of legislating during the day, and making end-of-quarter phone calls and meeting with supporters in the late afternoon and evening, I finally got a hard-earned day off to spend Easter Sunday with my family, then back to work on Monday supporting hundreds of teachers from the Peoria Unified School District as they visited the Capitol to see for themselves the dysfunction that has defunded our public school system. I gave interviews to Yahoo News, Education Week, the New York Times, The Atlantic, and ABC-15 to spread the word far and wide about my new vision for Arizona.

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.


Steve Farley

Senator, District 9, Tucson

If you like my representation and want to keep me in office, CONTRIBUTE TODAY!

Paid for by Farley for Governor

April 6, 2018