The Game Has Changed For The Education Debate in Arizona

The Game Has Changed For The Education Debate in Arizona

The narrative around education funding in Arizona has been dominated by the K-12 establishment, teachers’ unions, and their cheerleaders in the mainstream media.  For years they have told the public, despite billions in new education funding pouring in the past several years, that schools remain woefully underfunded. Sadly, this has resulted in a bidding war with the K-12 lobby on how much more to spend, regardless of educational results or accountability.

That prevailing narrative has now hit a brick wall.  The Arizona education lobby and their out-of-state special interest friends cashed in all their chips for Proposition 208 – the largest tax increase in Arizona history.  They were able to convince a bare majority of voters to pass it.  And now they have a real problem. 

Proponents promised that Prop 208 would restore our state to “pre-recession” funding levels, the watermark they use to define the ever-nebulous “fully funded” concept.  The architects of Prop 208 claimed that its passage would pump a $1Billion into the K-12 system.  Based upon what they promised Arizona voters, our schools are now fully funded. 

Despite opponents of the measure sounding the alarm on the devastating effects Prop 208 would have on our economy, advocates assured voters it did not impact small businesses and would not drive high-income earners and job creators out of the state.

But that is exactly what it is doing.  Inevitably, Proposition 208 will not generate the revenues they promised voters, leaving proponents in an awkward position.  They asked voters to pass this to “fully fund” education, knowing full well it would not generate the revenues they “projected” and they would be back asking for more money.  Some people call that a bait and switch.

This crisis in credibility is sure to be at odds with lawmakers this legislative session when the education community predictably demands more money, being unsatisfied with gobbling up 52 percent of the entirety of the state’s budget.  However, they have a second glaring problem divorced from the soon to be public revelation that they lied throughout the entirety of the Prop 208 campaign.

There is an exodus of students from the district schools and no one knows if these students are ever returning.  Since the pandemic, public schools have seen a 5 percent decline, while enrollment in Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, which allows parents to use their tax dollars to homeschool or choose an alternative learning solution for their children, has exploded. 

Understandably, the school districts have always enjoyed natural sympathies from parents who support their children’s schools and teachers.  But that implicit trust has been cracking under COVID as teachers’ unions threatened to strike if schools reopened in the Fall, school boards vacillated between distance and in-person learning, and schools opened daycares but not classrooms.  Parents were left with no other alternative but to seek out better options for their kids.

Since funding levels are tied to student enrollment, the education lobby will have to explain why they should receive more money when fewer families are choosing their product, especially when they have already secured their big bucket of money from Prop 208.

The passage of Prop 208 and the fracturing of the trust between the public schools and families have changed the framework of the debate around education in our state.  For the 2021 legislative session, that means the conversation will not center around how many unaccountable dollars can be poured into the K-12 system.  Rather – it is likely the session will be dominated by two prevailing policies – backpack funding and expanding school choice.  And this is very good news for the kids of Arizona and for taxpayers. 

Addressing Election Integrity in Arizona for 2020 and Beyond

Addressing Election Integrity in Arizona for 2020 and Beyond

Fresh off the heels of a ten-hour public forum in which several Arizona lawmakers and President Trump’s legal team—led by attorney Rudy Giuliani—discussed potential irregularities and fraud with the Presidential election results, State leadership is facing extreme pressure to hold a formal legislative hearing and overturn the certification of the 2020 elections in Arizona.

There are several key takeaways lawmakers and patriots alike should consider from the events that have transpired as we chart a path to move forward.

  1. Confidence in our Election System is Precarious

The fact is approximately half of the American population has lost faith in our election system.  This is a democratic crisis that left unattended will irreparably damage our republic. 

Regardless of the scope or degree election fraud played in the outcome of the 2020 Presidential election, only a comprehensive review and debate on a state-by-state basis will uncover these facts and, more importantly, mend the broken fidelity between millions of voters and the promise of free and fair elections. 

Calls for action by leaders such as Congressman Andy Biggs to conduct a full audit are appropriate and dire.  As the states most under scrutiny – Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Arizona—move forward on the certification process, they owe it to the public to investigate every aspect of how the elections were executed and make these proceedings and findings available for public consumption. Full transparency is critical.

2. Election Fraud is Real

Election fraud occurs.  It has been well documented.  Whether that takes the form of holding raffles and giving away gift cards in exchange for votes in Nevada, ballot harvesting in North Carolina, or a Judge caught taking bribes to stuff the ballot box in Philadelphia, election fraud exists and is a real problem.    

Yet despite decades of evidence, it has been irritating to watch the media, which trafficked absurd Russian collusion conspiracy theories, election “hacking” claims by the Clintons and lionized Stacey Abrams, now harrumphing anyone that raises concerns about voter fraud. Legacy media should be the last people questioning the credibility of election fraud concerns when they have zero credibility themselves.

So as the process moves forward, the Club believes the Trump campaign has a right to and should exhaust all legal remedies to investigate and review the results of the 2020 election.  

3. Election Integrity Reforms are Needed

In the last few years, Arizona has taken some steps to reduce the more nefarious methods of voter fraud. A ban on ballot harvesting (which Democrats at the time claim didn’t exist), reducing the abuse of “emergency” voting centers and enhanced voter ID laws have improved the process.

However, Arizona still has work to do, and additional reforms must be prioritized by the legislature.  Areas of reform include additional transparency and oversight on vote tabulation, Permanent Early Voter List (PEVL) fixes and enhanced scrubbing of our voter rolls to remove non-eligible voters from our lists.

Election integrity continues to be a priority for the Club and we support legislative efforts that improve the credibility, transparency and security of our elections.  This year’s session will no doubt be ripe for many of these reforms that have failed to pass in recent years.

4. Conservatives Must Continue to Fight

Arizona has some work to do to improve our elections systems.  However, concerns over election fraud cannot be used as an excuse to not engage politically or ignore that Democrats have made gains in the state.  The thinning Republican majorities at the legislature have not been garnered through vote rigging.  Irrespective of the 2020 election outcome, our focus must be on building our movement and growing our numbers so that we can win outside the margin of cheating.

And above all else, we MUST continue to fight. Right now, Donald Trump’s campaign team is in Georgia to help Kelly Loeffler and David Purdue win their races and retain the Senate Majority. In fact, Donald Trump himself is planning a visit to the state this weekend, despite concerns over voter fraud. If Trump is not throwing in the towel, then neither should conservatives.

Most States Reject Higher Taxes at the Ballot Box; Arizona is the Lone Exception

Most States Reject Higher Taxes at the Ballot Box; Arizona is the Lone Exception

While public attention has been on the highly charged speculations of the Presidential race, voters in 17 states throughout the country were asked to vote on a variety of tax measures at the ballot box.

The results of these measures were fascinating to say the least, especially the results in typically blue states that are generally favorable to higher taxes.

Despite Biden’s incessant promise to undo Trump’s tax cuts, voters in the country’s most liberal states rebuffed proposals to increase taxes across the board.

It is a well-known fact that these traditionally high-tax states have driven droves of citizens and businesses to lower-tax states such as Arizona, Texas and Utah in the past decade.  Except for measures to increase taxes on marijuana, tobacco, and other drugs, ironically, Arizona is the only state this election to pass the same economically ruinous policies blue states are now trying to undo.

Illinois voted on a measure to eliminate their Constitutional flat income tax system and institute a progressive, soak the rich system, which failed by a wide margin of 10 points.  Opposition to this change was realistically much higher than even 55 percent because in Illinois a Constitutional amendment can be ratified with a simple majority and voters who leave the question blank count as an affirmative for the measure! 

California too, asked voters to increase taxes in the form of removing a cap on property taxes for commercial owners.  Like Arizona’s Prop 208, California’s Proposition 15 would have constituted the largest tax increase in California’s history.  Surprisingly, the measure has failed, leaving intact one of the shelters for California’s businesses. 

Despite an oppositional education lobby and the proponents being outspent almost 2:1, Colorado’s voters passed a REDUCTION in their income tax by a margin of 15 PERCENT!  Colorado’s flat tax system protects taxpayers from class warfare at the ballot box.

Even in Washington state that does not have an income tax – cutting taxes is popular.  The legislature repealed four separate onerous taxes on businesses including a plastic bag tax.  These changes were on voters’ ballots as “advisory votes” which allow the electorate to affirm or oppose tax changes made by the legislature – all were supported by the majority of voters.  One of these measures was a repeal of a tax targeted at the aerospace industry which has threatened to send Boeing out of the evergreen state.  Alaskan voters too saw the wisdom of not killing the golden goose, where voters could have passed a measure to raise a $1Billion by sticking it to the oil industry, but the proposal failed by an almost 30 percent spread.

These results are astounding.  State and local economies have been pounded by the COVID19 shutdowns and there is almost universal acceptance that lower taxes on individuals and businesses will encourage growth and recovery.  The failure of the left’s tax policies is apparent to even the die-hard leftists in the bluest states in the country.  Their uncompetitive tax systems have driven away businesses and job-creators and hamstrung economic growth and they are now changing course. 

After a decade of climbing out of the Great Recession, Arizona has rebuilt its economy by controlling spending, adopting competitive tax policies, and limiting regulatory burdens on businesses.  That has led to thousands of new jobs, a more diversified economy and prosperity in the state which has allowed for over a $1Billion of new sustainable monies to flood the education system. 

Proposition 208 undoes all this progress.  Despite our state’s success story and liberal states trying to adopt our playbook, it looks like Arizona will have to learn the hard way.  

Julie Gunnigle Wants to Bring Radical Law Enforcement Agenda to Maricopa County

Julie Gunnigle Wants to Bring Radical Law Enforcement Agenda to Maricopa County

Watching American cities devolve into daily riots and chaos has spooked most voters, even those sympathetic to the idea of police reforms. Recent polling shows that residents in riot-torn cities such as Portland overwhelmingly support a crackdown by police, and that nearly half of likely voters are worried that violent protests will come to their communities.

These results are unsurprising—most people don’t like seeing their communities burned to the ground. They like their local law enforcement officials and prefer that violent criminals are punished for their actions.

Yet here in Maricopa County voters will be deciding in less than a week whether they elect a County Attorney that sees Portland as a cautionary tale or as a model for Arizona to adopt. On one side is Allister Adel, the current County Attorney who has adopted a tough but fair approach toward criminal justice.

Her challenger is Julie Gunnigle, a radical democrat with a checkered past as a front-line prosecutor that believes that we need to reimagine how the County Attorney office should operate.

What would Maricopa County look like if Gunnigle is elected?

  • Gunnigle supports defunding the police, and actively campaigned in Phoenix for a 25% reduction in police funding. It was such a radical position that most Democrats on the Phoenix Council opposed the plan.
  • Gunnigle supports ending cash bail, which would allow criminals back on the street and put victims at risk. This reform was adopted in New York at the beginning of 2020 to already disastrous results.
  • Gunnigle supports reduced jail sentences for convicted criminals, including those who participate in rioting and looting. Americans this summer were appalled as rioters and looters were given a pass by law enforcement as they rampaged through US cities. Eliminating punishment for these crimes would only invite this destructive behavior to Arizona.

This is just a sample of Julie Gunnigle’s platform, and demonstrates why she is completely unfit to be Maricopa County Attorney. Her only path to victory is if voters remain in the dark about her extreme jailbreak positions while George Soros and the ACLU spend millions attempting to trick voters into believing she is a mainstream candidate. Don’t be fooled.

Julie Gunnigle must be stopped, which is why the Club was the first outlet to go public exposing her extreme agenda.

And now with less than a week before the election, we urge everyone to reject Gunnigle’s lawless agenda by supporting Allister Adel, a law and order candidate for County Attorney who won’t turn the Phoenix Metro area over to the mob.

Arizona Free Enterprise Club FINAL 2020 General Election Endorsements

We are exactly one week from election day, and with that a reminder of the Club’s 2020 general election endorsements.

Our list is similar to our previous release, except the Club does want to highlight that several Judges are being targeted by the left for their convictions to uphold the Arizona Constitution. These are often forgotten races, but we do encourage voters to vote to retain our recommended judges, including Andrew Gould, John Lopez, Christopher Coury, Jennifer Perkins and David Weinzeig who have been targeted by the left to be removed from the bench.

We also encourage everyone that has received an early ballot to PLEASE return your ballot prior to election day. If you have concerns of voter fraud in regards to mailing in your ballot, you can drop off your ballot in person or vote early at polling locations in your county. For Maricopa County, you can find a polling location near you by visiting the following link: https://recorder.maricopa.gov/pollingplace/

Ballot Propositions

Proposition 207 – No

Proposition 208 – No

US President

Donald J. Trump

U.S Senate

Martha McSally

U.S Congress

Tiffany Shedd, CD 1

Brandon Martin, CD 2

Daniel Wood, CD 3

Paul Gosar, CD 4

Andy Biggs, CD 5

David Schwiekert, CD 6

Debbie Lesko, CD 8

Corporation Commission

Eric Sloan

Jim O’Connor

State Legislative Races

Judy Burges, LD 1 House                                                         

Quang Nguyen, LD 1 House                                                     

Deborah McEwen, LD 2 House

Travis Angry, LD 4 Senate

Joel John, LD 4 House

Regina Cobb, LD 5 House

Leo Biasuicci, LD 5 House

Walt Blackman, LD 6 House                            

Brenda Barton, LD 6 House

David Peelman, LD 7 House

Vince Leach, LD 11 Senate

Mark Finchem, LD 11 House

Bret Roberts, LD 11 House

Warren Petersen, LD 12 Senate

Travis Grantham, LD 12 House

Jake Hoffman, LD 12 House

Sine Kerr, LD 13 Senate

Tim Dunn, LD 13 House

David Gowan, LD 14 Senate

Gail Griffin, LD 14 House

Becky Nutt, LD 14 House

Nancy Barto, LD 15 Senate

Steve Kaiser, LD 15 House

Justin Wilmeth, LD 15 House

Kelly Townsend, LD 16 House

Jacqueline Parker, LD 16 House

JD Mesnard, LD 17 Senate

Liz Harris, LD 17 House

Suzanne Sharer, LD 18 Senate

Paul Boyer, LD 20 Senate

Anthony Kern, LD 20 House

Shawnna Bolick, LD 20 House

Rick Gray, LD 21 Senate

Kevin Payne, LD 21 House

Beverly Pingerelli, LD 21 House

David Livingston, LD 22 Senate

Ben Toma, LD 22 House

Frank Carroll, LD 22 House

Michelle Ugenti-Rita, LD 23 Senate

John Kavanagh, LD 23 House

Joseph Chaplik, LD 23 House

Tyler Pace, LD 25 Senate

Rusty Bowers, LD 25 House

Tatiana Pena, LD 27 House

Jana Jackson, LD 28 House

County, City, Town

Maricopa County

Proposition 449 – No

Stephen Richer, County Recorder

Allister Adel, County Attorney

Steve Chucri, Board of Supervisors District 2

Bill Gates, Board of Supervisors District 3

Shelly Boggs, Maricopa County Community College District Board – At Large

Laurin Hendrix, Maricopa County Community College District Board – District 1

Susan Bitter Smith, Maricopa County Community College District Board – District 3

Gilbert

Matt Nielsen, Mayor

Scottsdale

Lisa Borowsky, Mayor

Phoenix

Merissa Hamilton, Mayor

Judges

Supreme Court

Robert Brutinel, YES

Andrew Gould, YES

John Lopez, YES

Maricopa County

Jay Adleman

Sara Agne

Scott Blaney

Lori Horn Bustamante

Rodrick Coffey

Connie Contes

Christopher Coury

Adam Driggs

Pamela Gates

Michael Kemp

Daniel Kiley

Suzanne Marwil

Scott McCoy

Paul McMurdie

Kathleen Mead

Scott Minder

James B. Morse

Jennifer M. Perkins

Adele Ponce

Timothy J. Ryan

Timothy Thomason

Peter A. Thompson

David K. Udall

David D. Weinzeig

Christopher T. Whitten

Welcome to the Twilight Zone: Covid Stimulus Checks to Criminals

Welcome to the Twilight Zone: Covid Stimulus Checks to Criminals

When Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act last spring, the goal was to help families and businesses struggling with layoffs, closures and hardships caused by the pandemic.

Yet to no one’s surprise, the multi-trillion-dollar spending package has become the latest example of reckless spending and abuse emanating from our nation’s Capitol.

Tens of thousands of PPP small business loans have been found to be at a high risk for fraud, with no plans on how to fix the problem. At least 1 million stimulus checks were sent to dead people throughout the country. Millions in cash were sent to non-profit organizations to help create leverage for them to engage in radical political campaigns.

And if you thought it could not get any worse, it has now been decided that we will be sending stimulus checks to convicted felons in prison.

It seems like only a short time ago when such a bizarre and farfetched idea would never have been considered or interpreted. 

But welcome to the Twilight Zone – Year 2020 Edition– when anything goes.

No More Trillion Dollar Stimulus Giveaways

It may be easy to blame the trial attorneys who have exploited the CARES Act loophole and sued the IRS, or even the US District Court judge who ruled that taxpayers must fork over $1,200 checks to thousands of prisoners.  But they weren’t the ones that drafted the bill or have remained indifferent to fixing these legislative defects.

It’s the politicians in Washington that don’t seem to care that massive amounts of deficit spending are being given away to criminals and dead people. They have already moved on to their next trillion-dollar idea to bail out their political friends while driving our Country closer to bankruptcy.

Enough is enough. In November, voters will have a stark choice on the ballot, one that will determine the future of this country. It is a choice between one side who wants accountability and law and order, and another who wants to simultaneously defund the police while funding criminals with stimulus checks. As Ronald Reagan stated in 1964, this will be a time for choosing, and hopefully voters will choose wisely.