“Budgets are a statement of our values and I hope this isn’t what we value” – Rep. Fernandez
After a long week, legislators adjourned sine die near Friday morning’s witching hour and educators ended their week-long strike. Let’s get you into this session’s last legislative report.
On Monday, a source close to the governor’s office had told reporters Ducey’s revenue projections were revised and reduced to lower values. Specifically, his projections allow for 4.3, 4.4, and 4.5 percent growth in revenue in FY19, 20, and 21 respectively.
Alongside Ducey’s altered budget that includes a 20 percent raise for teachers, the governor returned $8 million in one-time funding to ASU and UofA’s “freedom schools” with an additional $1 million. Reporters also learned Ducey is proposing to completely fund JTEDs with $1.8 million. Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and Blind is set to receive $2 million for early childhood intervention programs in addition to their teachers receiving a 20 percent raise.
The Center for Economic Progress and Invest in Education Committee are working on a ballot initiative to raise income taxes on wealthy Arizonans. The initiative stipulates that school districts’ governing boards must implement a process for teachers and other personnel to provide input and approve proposed plans for spending the new money.
On Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee held a 10-hour long hearing where 150 teachers, parents, and students pleaded members to vote against the budget, eventually in favor of a better budget that did more for Arizona’s public education system.
Both Republican and Democratic Senators took issue with language in Ducey’s teacher raise proposal. School districts will be in charge of distributing funds to raise their educational staffs’ pay and later publish a report of average teacher pay changes (in percent and dollar amount) on the homepage of their website.
Despite the special session that was held, Ducey’s budget lacks funding for his $11 million school safety plan (S1519 protective orders; schools; appropriations). However, the budget does include $3 million for mental health counseling at schools.
On Tuesday, the Senate spent most of the day and parts of the evening discussing the governor’s school safety proposal. Senator Smith sponsored an amendment that eliminated ex parte STOP orders–preventing citizens from petitioning courts to confiscate dangerous firearms from dangerous individuals. Now, all STOP orders will be filtered through law enforcement.
By Friday morning, there was no use. The legislature had adjourned sine die without passing the school safety plan.
Digital Goods & Services
The League of Arizona Cities and Towns is doing the most it can to stop the passage of H2479 (TPT; digital goods & services)), and it’s working. “This bill is a one-way street of permanent revenue reduction. Once these business practices are exempted from tax, it will take a two-thirds vote of the legislature to re-impose them due to Proposition 108.” The league also takes issue with the amendment that does not eliminate the exemptions from data centers and “software as a service”.
This session, the legislature had 1,206 bills introduced. 369 bills were passed, 285 have been signed by the governor, and 16 have been vetoed. The governor has until the middle of next week to act on the remaining bills that have been sent to him.
H2090 (Pre-arrest Diversion; Precomplaint Education Program)
The standards used by the Joint Legislative Income Tax Review Committee to evaluate tax credits may include whether adequate protections are in place to ensure that the fiscal impact of the credit in future years does not increase substantially beyond the current projections.
- 5/3: House failed to pass Senate amendments in final reading (26-34)
- 4/5: Passed Senate 23-5, ready for House action on Senate amendments.
H2422 (Personal Delivery Devices)
A “personal delivery device operator” (defined) is authorized to operate a “personal delivery device” (defined) on sidewalks and crosswalks and on roadways in Arizona, and a device so operating has all the rights and duties applicable to pedestrians except those that by their nature can have no application. Personal delivery devices are exempt from motor vehicle registration and insurance requirements. A local authority is not prohibited from adopting reasonable restrictions for the safe operation of personal delivery devices.
- 5/2: Passed Senate 24-6. Ready for Governor.
- 4/30: House adopted conference report and passed final reading 33-24. Waiting Senate final vote.
H2534 (Teachers; Certification Requirements)
Rewrites and reorganizes statutes establishing requirements for teacher certification. Board of Education rules for teacher certificates are required to include five types of certificates: standard, postbaccalaureate standard, subject-matter expert standard, classroom-based standard, and career and technical education. Exempts the following persons from the requirement to have a baccalaureate degree for teacher certification: a teacher who is otherwise exempt by law from obtaining a baccalaureate degree and who provides instruction in career and technical education, and a person who obtains a native american language certificate, a teaching intern certificate, a junior reserve officer training corps certificate, or an athletic coaching certificate. Directs legislative council to prepare conforming legislation.
- 5/3: Passed in Senate 24-5. Passed in House 46-11. Ready for Governor.
- 4/10: Okay from Senate rules.
S1091 (Income Tax Payments; Bitcoin)
Taxypayers are permitted to pay their income tax liability using a payment gateway, such as bitcoin, litecoin or any other cryptocurrency recognized by the Department of Revenue, using electronic peer-to-peer systems. The Dept is required to convert cryptocurrency payments to U.S. dollars at the prevailing rate after receipt and credit the taxpayer’s account with the converted dollar amount actually received less any fees or costs incurred by the Dept for conversion. Effective January 1, 2020.
- 5/3: Senate passed 26-2. House passed 54-6. Ready for Governor.
- 4/30: House COW approved with amendment. Passed House 43-14. Ready for Senate action on House amendments.