Tuesday, November 22, 2011

2011 Arizona News Service Capitol Roadshow

{Below is an email we wanted to share from Arizona Capitol Times for an event every Arizonan should plan to attend!}

Introducing the 2011 Arizona News Service
Capitol Roadshow

Join Arizona News Service, parent company of Arizona Capitol Times, as we go on the road across our state to help educate Arizonans about the legislative process. Our mission, as a non-partisan newspaper and media company, is to share information with our clients, subscribers and readers, to help them make decisions on what unfolds at the Capitol. Our team of experts, staff and lawmakers will visit Flagstaff, Tucson, Prescott and Maricopa County.

December 8
8:30 registration
9 a.m. – 12 p.m. discussions

High Country Conference Center

Northern Arizona University
201 West Butler Avenue - Flagstaff, AZ 86001


Why Capitol Roadshow?
The Arizona News Service Capitol Roadshow is the only non-partisan glance at Arizona politics. With its mission to engage more citizens in the political process, the Capitol Roadshow will tour the state and educate citizens on vital issues impacting Arizonans.

How a bill becomes a law
Understanding the process of how a bill becomes law is important to being engaged in the political process. Each step in the process is crucial to a bill surviving the legislative process and ultimately becoming a law.

Getting engaged and implementing a grassroots strategy at the Capitol (panel discussion)

Becoming engaged in what happens at the Capitol is an important first step to implementing a grassroots strategy. This panel discussion will help understand the tactics and strategies behind running a successful grassroots campaign.

Social Media – how it's changing the face of politics (panel discussion)

With the emergence of new technologies, social media has become a power player in politics. With almost 1 billion users on Facebook and Twitter, social media has changed the way people communicate, the way information is dispersed and the way people engage in the political system. It's also expected it will change the landscape of next year's state and local elections. Our panel will explore social media and give you strategies for staying current on what's transpiring and what some of the hottest trends will be in 2012.

Media Panel – What's happening at the Capitol, what to expect, redistricting and much more
With an upcoming Legislative Session and Arizona in the midst of redistricting and 2012 elections, this will be a very important time for Arizona's political climate. This media panel will discuss what to expect and how these changes will impact Arizonans.

Q&A with Local Politicians

Free to attend!
Plus all attendees receive a complimentary
Citizen Government Guide, a $19.95 value.

To register visit http://capitolroadshow.eventbrite.com
For more information call 602-889-7129 or email events@azcapitoltimes.com

Sponsored by:
Northern Arizona University

Follow us on Facebook - Capitol Roadshow
or Twitter - @CapitolRoadshow

Click here to opt out of future e-mailings.
Arizona Capitol Times
(602) 258-7026
1835 W. Adams St.,
Phoenix, AZ

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Teacher Town Hall Kicks of NBC's Second Annual Education Nation

A Teacher Town Hall kicked off NBC's second annual Education Nation event on Sunday, September 25, 2011. The major news network began this initiative in 2010 as a means to "engage the country in a solutions-focused conversation about the state of education in America."

Below are two clips from today's Teacher Town Hall, hosted by NBC's Brian Williams.
Part One of Education Nation's Teacher Town Hall:

Part Two of Education Nation's Teacher Town Hall:

To find out upcoming topics for this week's summit or to watch the Live Webcast of the 2011 Education Nation event, click here.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Americans for Tax Reform "Bemoans the existence of public schools"

Most people would agree that universal public education is the cornerstone of American success as an economic power and as a beacon of democracy in the world.

Apparently, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) doesn't think much of public education.  In a recent post defending for-profit colleges, ATR took time at the end of the article to list some of the things they bemoan the existence of - specifically public schools. 

You can read the post here, but the offending passage states: "It is unfortunate that these federal spending programs exist. ATR also bemoans the existence of public schools, teachers unions, and Obamacare—but that doesn’t mean we won’t work to mitigate the negative effects of these bad policies or institutions."

As Americans strive to improve our public schools so as to ensure our students are adequately prepared to compete in a global economy, it is important to understand that there are forces like Americans for Tax Reform that would like undermine these efforts by doing away with public schools all together.

Texas School Districts Consider Tax Increases to Fill State Cuts To Education

The New York Times has an interesting article titled School Districts Look at Increase in Tax Rates out today (6/12/11), which discusses tax options faced by Texas school districts in the wake of state funding cuts to education.

In the recent legislative session, Texas cut $4 billion from the education budget.  According to the article,
The local part of public education financing in Texas comes from property taxes: maintenance-and-operations rates set by school boards and, if applicable, a facilities bond interest rate.  In 2006, as part of an overhaul of the state’s school finance system, the Legislature voted to reduce property tax rates by a third, setting the majority of districts’ maintenance-and-operations rates at $1 per $100 of property value, with a cap of $1.17. Any district that wants to levy a tax rate higher than $1.04 must hold a “tax ratification election.” About 20 percent of districts have already reached the $1.17 limit...
While Arizona is "an equalized funding state", school districts still vote individually for maintenance and operation overrides, capital overrides and bonds.  It is interesting to see how other states handle these issues when Arizonans are discussing the funding of our public education system.  Issues such as local commitment to education funding and equal funding statewide are topics of discussion in the wake of substantial cuts to education in the two most recent sessions of the Arizona Legislature.

To read the rest of the New York Times article, click here.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Children's Action Alliance Needs Your Help!


Children’s Action Alliance, an Arizona non-partisan and non-profit child advocacy group, needs your help in the West Valley to let people know how their legislators voted on bills affecting their children, families and local community.

Please join us on Saturday, May 14, 2011, 9:00 a.m. to noon at Falcon Park at 5050 West Indian School Road in Goodyear (east of the Loop 303).

Volunteers will distribute voter education materials door-to-door in nearby neighborhoods.
No experience necessary- just join in the fun!

Volunteers are welcome to participate in an optional training session on Wednesday, May 11, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at UFCW Local 99, 2401 North Central Avenue in Phoenix.

Contact Amy Kobeta at (602) 266-0707 x202
or akobeta@azchildren.org to RSVP or with questions.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

AEN Joins Panel Discussion on Education Cuts on Arizona PBS 8 Horizons with Ted Simons

Arizona Horizon's host Ted Simons discusses the impact of budget cuts and other legislation on public education with Senator Rich Crandall, Chair of the Senate Education Committee; Ann-Eve Pedersen, president of the Arizona Education Network; and Chuck Essigs of the Arizona Association of School Business Officials.

How did YOUR legislator vote? Find the 2011 Legislative Session: Education Funding Voting Record by Legislator here.

Join the Campaign for Education 2012 here.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Phoenix Channel 12 News Asks: Where Did the New Sales Tax Money Go?

Phoenix Channel 12 News's Lunch Cast segment AZ FactCheck set out to answer a question many Arizona voters are asking: "Did the new sales tax that voters approved last spring really help education?"

Watch here:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Special Talk by George Lakoff Monday, April 25 at 5 p.m.

The Department of Linguistics and the Cognitive Science Program in collaboration with the units listed below

Announce a Special Presentation by

Richard and Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics
University of California, Berkeley

Monday, April 25, 2011
5:00 p.m.
The University of Arizona Main Campus
1103 E 2 St
Tucson, AZ 85721
How Progressives and Conservatives Think Differently:
Understanding the Current Political Conflict in America with Suggestions for a Saner Politics

Progressives and conservatives have very different moral worldviews, conflicting ideas of what is right and wrong — worldviews that cover many areas of life and go well beyond particular issues like guns and immigration. For reasons that are far from obvious, these differences are dominating our political life and surface in violent forms of language, and unfortunately, violent actions.

It is vital that we understand the principles (and there ARE principles) governing these worldviews and hence our political life. The issues in Arizona arise from the same source as the issues in Wisconsin, Ohio, and California, and the current debates in Congress. It is also vital to understand the role that language and communication play in our politics via the framing of issues.

An important phenomenon rarely discussed is “duality,” where people have both worldviews applying to different issues: they are conservative in some ways and progressive in others. Understanding how duality works in the brain is crucial to the development of a saner politics at all levels.

Support for this presentation has been provided by the following:

Office of the Vice President for Research, University of Arizona's Confluence: A Center for Creative Inquiry, College of Education, College of Science, School of Information Sciences, Technology and Arts, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, School of Anthropology, Department of Philosophy, College of Humanities, Department of Psychology, Department of History, Center for the Philosophy of Freedom, Department of Communication, Second Language Acquisition and Teaching, School of Government and Public Policy, Department of English, Department of Sociology

Monday, April 18, 2011

Budget Cuts to K-12 Education Discussed on AZ PBS's Horizonte

Horizonte host José Cárdenas discusses impact of budget cuts to public K-12 education on schools and students with Panfilo Contreras, executive director for the Arizona School Boards Association; Chuck Essigs, director of Governmental Relations for the Arizona Association of School Business Officials; and Ann-Eve Pedersen from the Arizona Education Network.

Teacher Day at the University of Arizona Saturday, April 30!

"In honor of National Teacher Appreciation Week, Tucson Values Teachers is proud to partner with the University of Arizona and Champions for Change to present Teacher Day at UA."

Saturday, April 30, from 10 AM - 4 PM

No pre-registration is required. Just come out - free for teachers and 3 family members!
Simply sign in at Flandrau and receive an identifying button, a free tote bag and a program and UA Resource Guide. Then go forth to enjoy free admissions and lots of information and goodies.

* Nearly 50 different UA programs will be sharing information and material for area classrooms at the Business/Education Expo at the College of Education

* Discounts at several Main Gate Restaurants

* Goodies from OfficeMax and Walgreens

* Free Admission and special programs at Arizona State Museum, Flandrau, the Poetry Center, the Museum of Art and lots more!!! 

The Tucson community is invited to show up and say thank you to all of our great teachers and their families!

For a schedule of events, click here.

For more information, email Tucson Values Teachers executive director, Jacquelyn Jackson.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Join the Campaign for Education 2012!

Sign up for our Email Newsletter
It's official. Governor Brewer broke her promise to hold the line on education cuts when she signed the budget Thursday (4/7/2011) evening, slashing an additional $454 million from our public schools, community colleges and universities—bringing the three-year total education cut to $1.35 billion. In the wake of these devastating cuts, people from across the state are asking: What can we do now?
The answer couldn't be more clear. Begin organizing for 2012!

It's time for Arizonans to stop putting out fires and start going after the arsonists.time for Arizonans to stop just putting out fires; it's time to start going after the arsonists.

Funding cuts have created an endless series of fire drills in school districts, community colleges, universities and adult education across the state. For the past three years, the education community has done its best to continue providing students with a quality education in spite of drastic reductions. But that task is becoming increasingly difficult as our educational institutions face the cumulative effects of worst-case-scenario budgets that have forced them to cut vital programs and core staff several years in a row. School officials, teachers, parents and students have responded to the disaster with fundraisers and tax-credit drives. As well-intentioned as these actions are, they amount to using a water hose to put out a statewide inferno.

The Arizona Education Network is developing the Campaign for Education 2012. We are mobilizing education supporters statewide to oppose those who are destroying Arizona public education. We are also committed to finding ways, such as a statewide initiative, to fund education--the engine of economic development for our state. Education supporters must be organized by the end of the summer in order to make a difference in 2012. We need your commitment to be involved now!

Please take a few minutes to join the Campaign for Education 2012. Your information will be kept confidential.

Print this flyer, give it to parents at your school, your neighbors, your relatives and your friends to spread the word about the devastating cuts to education and the Campaign for Education 2012.

Our strength is in our numbers! By signing up today, you will help build the strong coalition of public education supporters we need for the next phase in protecting Arizona's public education funding from the destructive game of partisan politics.


When you have completed the survey, please consider making a donation to support the Arizona Education Network's Campaign for Education 2012. Click here to donate.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.

A Bronx Tale: NY Times Looks at Reform at Bronx Middle School

A fantastic article by Jonathan Mahler appeared in the NY Times Magazine titled "The Fragile Success of School in the Bronx". The article is centered on the daily challenges faced by a middle school principal, Ramón González, of  M.S. 223, a public middle school in the South Bronx.  The school serves a community with a high-poverty rate.

Despite the challenges of overseeing a school set near a dangerous housing project, with incoming students who present little more than a utility bill and no transcript from previous schools to help evaluate their educational needs, something is working.

Last year, after seven years under González, 60 percent of its students tested at or above grade level in math and 30 percent in English. Not something to brag about in most school districts, but those numbers make 223 one of the top middle schools in the South Bronx. According to its latest progress report from the Department of Education, which judges a school’s growth against a peer group with similar demographics, 223 is the 10th-best middle school in the entire city.
The challenge is how to keep improvement on track.

Read more of this compelling article here.

Arizona Week: "Impact of Education Reductions on Arizona Schools"

Arizona Week host, Michael Chihak interviewed Chuck Essigs, the director of governmental relations for Arizona School Business Officials and Vail School Superintendent, Calvin Baker on the impact of $183 million funding cut signed by Governor Brewer Friday, April 8, 2011.

Note: Link will take you to a brief transcript with a video near the bottom of the page. 

NY Times Article Sums Up Education Reform Debate Divisions

The current debate over education reform was a highlighted topic in an article that ran in Sunday's (4/10/11) NY Times Week in Review, titled "The Deadlocked Debate Over Education Reform." Across the nation, the discussion about education reform among experts and advocates is becoming increasingly polarized, with sides taking hard lines against opposing views and/or approaches.
As is often the case with morally charged policy issues....false dichotomies seem to have replaced fruitful conversation. If you support the teachers’ union, you don’t care about the students. If you are critical of the teachers’ union, you don’t care about the teachers. If you are in favor of charter schools, you are opposed to public schools. If you believe in increased testing, you are on board with the corruption of our liberal society’s most cherished educational values. If you are against increased testing, you are against accountability. It goes on. Neither side seems capable of listening to the other.
Read the entire article here.

Friday, April 1, 2011

No April Fool's Day Joke: House and Senate Approve Deep Cuts to Education

Arizona Education Network Newsletter ~ Friday, April 1, 2011

We wish we could tell you this is an April Fool's joke, but it's not.

The House and Senate today passed a budget that eliminates $183.2 million from K-12 and $270.8 million from universities and community colleges for a total of $454 million in cuts to education in Arizona. The budget was a compromise negotiated between Gov. Brewer and the Legislature. Brewer did not keep her commitment to hold the line on education cuts --agreeing to $115 million more in cuts than she proposed in her budget.

In addition, the House passed SB1614, which effectively cuts teacher salaries by requiring teachers to pay more into their pension plans. Previously, the teachers and districts split those payments 50/50. Now, teachers must pay 53 percent. District savings will be offset by a reduction in the aid received by the district--amounting to additional cuts by the state.

Read more here.

Former Intel CEO warns lawmakers that education cuts will harm AZ's economy

Just days before the cuts, former Intel CEO Craig Barrett told Brewer and legislators that Arizona's low level of investment in education is damaging the state's economy. Barrett said that if Intel was relocating now, Arizona would not even be in the top 10 states considered.

"Quality education is extremely important to a place like Intel," Barrett said. "(The) education cutbacks don't bode well for that." To attract "those high-paying jobs - the jobs that pay two to three times the average - look for your educational infrastructure to be the key," he said.

Read more here.
Arizona Education Network Press Release on Education Cuts

Governor Brewer yesterday showed complete disregard for our state's faltering economy when she failed to defend public education funding as she had promised she would.

On Tuesday, former Intel CEO Craig Barrett, warned legislators that Arizona will not be able to attract good -paying jobs without investing in education. He warned that Arizona's "education cutbacks don't bode well for that."

Yet, the House, in the dead of night --after striking a compromise with Brewer and the Senate - the House pushed through $454 million in cuts to education funding. They also cut teacher salaries by increasing the amount teachers must pay into their pension plans.

Schools across the state had been planning their budgets for next year based on Brewer's proposed budget. But her failure to stick up for her own plan is now going to push school districts, our community colleges and universities into last-minute, emergency plans based on much deeper cuts than expected for the coming school year.

Not only will the budget cuts damage the state's economy in the long-term, there will also be short-term hits as schools, colleges and universities eliminate thousands of jobs.
To read the full press release click here.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Another AEN Adventure in Live Blogging: AZ House begins work on budget

Welcome to another grand AEN live-blogging adventure! Your blogging team live-blogged the events and activities of the House, which began sometime around 3:30 p.m. Thursday, March 31, and wrapped in the wee small hours of the morning on Friday, April 1. The earliest post begins way down towards the bottom of the page.  As you page down through the festivities, your patience and forgiveness for various typos or grammatical errors is greatly appreciated.

Thank you
AEN Blogging Team

3:46 a.m. We're heading into another COW calendar. Again, the link is here.

Folks, while this is great fun, we are in sore-need of some beauty sleep. We'll have a summary on our website soon.

Also, our newsletter should go out sometime tomorrow afternoon. Be sure you've joined our mailing list!

**Just to clarify any confusion with prior posting of figures/cuts: In this budget--a compromise between the House and Senate leadership, and Governor Brewer--$183M will be cut from K-12 funding, and $198M will be cut from the funding for state's universities and community colleges.

Our apologies for any confusion prior postings may have caused. And with that, thank you for joining us for this adventure in live-blogging!

3:21 a.m. House COW underway.

2:58 a.m. Movement in the House. Everyone looks a little rested. Arizona Students' Association tweeted there will be 18 floor amendments.

Live video from the House Floor here.

2:49 a.m. Well, twenty minutes and no one's milling anymore.

2:21 a.m. A few House members have been spotted milling around on the House floor.

Looks like we're going sunset to sunshine, folks.

1:22 a.m. No movement on the House floor. Won't expect any activity until 2 a.m. Will see how much longer we can hang. Sense a second wind coming.

12:45 a.m. Some word is getting out that the Senate will be voting on the budget at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.

Wait. Did we say, "tomorrow"? How silly...of course we meant TODAY! Blame it on the moon. Or the exhaustion. Whatever.

Presently, there isn't a confirmation of the Senate's schedule change on the leg website.

AZ Republic report on the budget here.

12:22 a.m. Caucus meetings wrap up for both R's and D's. Word is the House will go to the floor to vote at 1:30 a.m. Members will take an hour siesta.

If you're still awake and fighting sleep, you can review the JLBC fiscal analysis of the budget going before the full House here.

House Floor Session can be watched here.

11:27 p.m. Caucus meetings are still underway, as Joint Legislative Budget Council makes presentation of the cuts to various state programs/agencies. We're listening while trying to get our newsletter ready for distribution tomorrow.

JLBC reports cut to K-12 will equal $183 million. Cut to universities will be $198 million.

If House goes to Committee of the Whole (COW) while the toothpicks are still holding our eyelids wide open, we'll post here. If not, we'll leave the link here, should there be any insomniacs out there.

10:45 p.m. Speaker Adams just announced that following caucus meetings, the budget will proceed for a full vote of the House. Not tomorrow. Tonight. For real. This is not an April Fool's joke. Sadly.

10:24 p.m. House Rules has adjourned.

Up next: Caucus meetings.

House R's will Caucus in House Hearing Room 1. Watch here.
House D's will Caucus in House Hearing Room 2. Watch here.

We don't advise trying to watch them both at the same time. ;)

10:14 p.m. House Rules is underway.

10:05 p.m. SB1624 passes, 9-3. Now all thirteen bills move through House Rules Committee. Live feed for House Hearing Room 4, where rules will meet, is here. This should go rather quickly and then the House should adjourn for the evening.

9:43 p.m. SB1623 passes, 9-3. On to the final bill of the evening, SB1624, environment budget. We're on our way to the finish line, folks! Oh, you're so awesome to have hung with us this long.

9:35 p.m. SB 1621 passes, 9-3. Now SB1622, the general government budget. SB1622 passes, 9-3.

9:04 p.m. SB1621 up now; criminal justice budget.

8:58 p.m. SB1619 passes, 9-3 without the Tovar Amendment. Now on to SB1620. This bill will reduce max. income eligibility for child care assistance and require Department of Economic Security to screen/drug test each adult recipient of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

Considering the subject of the legislation, we're betting this one is going down, 9-3.

8:54 p.m. House Appropriations hearing room looks pretty empty. Late hour. Remember, we have 5 more bills to go through this hearing before the entire budget goes to the House Rules Committee. The entire budget will likely not be voted on by the full House this evening, rather will go to House Committee of the Whole tomorrow morning.

8:28 p.m. SB1618 passes, 9-3. Per Arizona Students' Association: amendment was offered as supported by ASA to save financial aid. Amendment passed appropriations.

They are on to SB1619, which addresses Arizona's AHCCCS program.

Rep. Tovar offered an amendment that would pay for transplants at no cost to the state; private funds would be used. Chairman expressed that the late arrival of the amendment made it a challenge to give a thorough vetting in committee. Late arrival of amendment due largely, if not wholly, to the availability of the strikers to members of the minority party. With that said, the amendment has been tabled so that it can be analyzed and given a chance to be adopted.

8:22 p.m. SB1617 passes, 9-3. On to SB1618, higher education.

8:10 p.m. A lot of data being discussed in tonight's committee hearing. Very frustrating, as some of the same flawed talking points from '09 have been resuscitated re: per-pupil expenditures and where AZ falls nationally. We've already rebutted this, folks.

"Response to ATRA's K-12 Education Funding Comparison" (June 2009)

"AZ Schools--Examination of the Facts" (June 2009)

8:01 p.m. Committee is getting ready to vote on SB1617. It's impossible to find words to summarize some of the comments that have been made.

7:35 p.m. Rep. Williams asking Ms. Loredo about percentage of dollars making it to the classroom.

Ms. Loredo says the size of the "pie" being appropriated to schools is impacting the ability of how many dollars actually are available to get into the classroom. Additionally, other issues (like heating and cooling) and various outside factors, with fewer funding, there are simply fewer dollars to stretch into the classroom.

7:26 p.m. Jennifer Loredo is up again for the AEA, to remind about the organization's support for Prop 100 and how these cuts are going to impact the classrooms in schools across the state.

Rep. Campbell asks Ms. Loredo about the per-pupil funding and how the cuts are going to play out.

Ms. Loredo says different things are going to play depending upon the school district. Declining enrollment districts are going to have some hard decisions to make. No way to hold off any of these cuts from making it into the classroom. Two big funds: one is soft capital (supplies, technology); 80% of soft capital off of the table, making it highly probable teachers are going to pay out of their pocket for supplies. Another fund is CORL (capitol outlay). Has been allowed to transfer to Maintenance and Operation budget. With cut to CORL, that will cut the M&O for a lot of school districts. Already hearing of districts doing a salary reduction across the district. AZ has one of the highest student-to-teacher ratios.

Rep. Williams interrupts Ms. Loredo to speak to the point of student-to-teacher ratio. Wants to know where's the data related to the student : teacher ratio.

Rep. Campbell says his data comes from ALEC.

7:21 p.m. We're on to SB1617, the K-12 budget reconciliation bill.

7:17 p.m. Committee still on a pizza break. Can nothing happen on time at the capitol?!?

6:59 p.m. SB1616 passes, 8-4. It's becoming clear there are number of agencies in the state, not just public education, as well as cash-strapped counties that are going to be devastated by this budget.

AEN team blogger commentary: I can't help but consider that many of the voices in today's appropriation hearing come from the very same people/agencies who made up the Yes on 100 coalition (Prop 100--the temporary 1-cent sales tax). It's sad to see so many who find themselves faced with a broken promise.

On to the K-12 budget, SB1617. Wait. Nope. Not yet. It's pizza time. Committee takes a 15-minute break to get grub.

So stretch your legs and catch the last ray of what has been a spectacular sunset.

6:27 p.m. SB1614 passes 9-3. On to SB1615, consolidation of state agencies. Passes committee 9-3. On to SB1616.

We're going to take a small bathroom break before we get to K-12 (SB1617)....

6:22 p.m. Jennifer Loredo with the Arizona Education Association speaking about SB 1614; "We're the one system that does the 50/50." In other words, teachers are the only public sector employees that participate in the 50/50 split. Ms. Loredo states to the committee that she's aware that when the majority party has caucused "behind close doors" there was a great deal of concerns about this policy change.

6:16 p.m. The rest of the bills are clipping right along; SB163 and now to SB1614. SB1614 will reduce pension contributions to public sector--state, university, school district and charter school employees--from a 50/50 contribution split to a 53/47 split. The reduction in contributions will be transferred to the state General Fund.

5:54 p.m After a great deal of explanation of votes, SB 1612 passes 9-3.

5:24 p.m. Ms. Johnson speaking before the committee re: the cuts impacting rural hospitals.

Just to catch you all up, we're still on the General Fund Appropriation Bill for FY 2011-2012 (SB 1612).

5:14 p.m. Conversation about $10 billion in tax loopholes/tax exemptions. Well, not so much conversations as debating/spinning and "twisting" of a report published by the Arizona Department of Revenue.

AEN blog team member's commentary: Close the loopholes, broaden the base, or attempt to meet somewhere in the middle. Do something! It's time we take a serious and realistic approach to addressing our state's fiscal stability. But to cut funding to vital programs that are proven to GROW our economic base is not a healthy approach. IF AZ is broke, if the state's checkbook is empty, how can we afford to hand over approx. $500M to corporations?

5:06 p.m. Rep. Vic Williams (LD 26) reads letter from Craig Barrett that speaks to reforming K-12, money to the classroom and various charter school successes. Not entirely clear if this letter was an op-ed or just a note to various legislative leaders. "Hear from the K-12 community this twisting of what our corporate leaders are saying. He's [Craig Barrett] looking for reform in our current system. Continuously hear this twisting of what our corporate leaders are saying and I wanted to speak to that."

5:00 p.m. Rep. Vic Williams (LD 26) breaks down the budget pie, while reminding committee he supported Prop 100. Rep. Williams suggests educational districts can look at their district budgets--all 228 can find some fiscal solutions.

Rep. Campbell offers support for Ms. Anderson. Several options out there to reform tax code that would make it fair and lower it for average citizens. GI and Morrison Institute have said there are some good choices. Rep. Campbell Reminds committee of $10 billion in lost revenue opportunities. "Some [exemptions] are good, but several exemptions don't need to be there."

Like say the exemption for 4-inch pipe in the amount of $17M a year?

4:56 p.m. Ms. Anderson with Interfaith community addressing the committee is urging committee to expand the tax base, instead of passing the budget.  Lower the rate and broaden the base, to include more services that will increase revenue but not increase rates. Sounds reasonable to us!

4:38 p.m. Mr. Barnes with Association of Arizona Community Colleges speaking about cuts to community colleges right now.

Rep. Alston makes comment re: businesses come to community colleges to ask them to design a course for my business, which train workforce for the jobs they are bringing to the state.

Rep. Kavanagh states cut to community colleges is "a 54% reduction to what the state gives to the community colleges. Not a 50% reduction of their funding."

Historical note: funding/providing public education to citizens was one of four MAJOR provisions to a territory joining the union of states.

John Goodwin, the first governor of the Arizona Territory, stated definitively that “self-government and universal education are inseparable. The one can be exercised only as the other is enjoyed.” As early as 1864 he called on the territory legislature to establish free public K-12 and university education, noting that “The first duty of the legislators of a free state is to make, as far as lies within their power, education as free to all its citizens as the air they breathe.”

Thus public schools were already well established in our state by December of 1910, when 52 delegates from across the Arizona territory came together to draft a state constitution.

And as Article XI, Section X in the AZ Constitution states:

"The revenue for the maintenance of the respective state educational institutions shall be derived from the investment of the proceeds of the sale, and from the rental of such lands as have been set aside by the enabling act approved June 20, 1910, or other legislative enactment of the United States, for the use and benefit of the respective state educational institutions. In addition to such income the legislature shall make such appropriations, to be met by taxation, as shall insure the proper maintenance of all state educational institutions, and shall make such special appropriations as shall provide for their development and improvement.”

4:19 p.m. Testimony re: cost shift to counties being given right now. Missed his name. Our apologies. Gentleman was told by his rep: State is the parent, counties children. If true, he says, then the budget is the equivalent of "Cutting kids allowance, demanding more chores and then demanding that they make your truck payments."

Feeling social? Check out and LIKE Support Adult Basic Education in Arizona on Facebook!

4:16 p.m. ASU student from a middle-class home, whose father works for Intel, gives testimony to committee re: cuts to higher education and the struggle families face to provide an education for their children.

4:00 p.m. Lost of last update due to gremlins. Testimony from David Martinez with the Arizona Students' Association re: the impact to the universities and community colleges. Rep. Kavanagh referenced report from Arizona Board of Regents, where it was shared that 45% of the university students do not pay tuition. Mr. Martinez notes that is an average of the student population who qualify and receive financial aid.

Rep. Alston notes that it is a loss to our state/community when being poor is an obstacle in a student being able to attend to college; references fmr. Intel CEO, Craig Barrett's comments from Tuesday.

3:51 p.m. State parks rep speaking about fund sweeps to state parks between $3-5M. "We are operating on a thread and the thread is about to break."

State parks bring in $266M, in addition to $23 million in state and local taxes.

3:47 p.m. If you were ever worried about the move of one Kyrsten Sinema from the House to the Senate Appropriations Committee, rest assured. Rep. Chad Campbell is on it.

3:38 p.m. Representative for Protecting Arizona's Family Coalition, Mr. Schmoltz (sorry for misspelling) is speaking about impact of cuts to families and vulnerable. Concern about the rush and "behind closed door" negotiations.

"Not open and transparent and accountable government....[W]e might not be able to change your minds, we just ask you to step back and slow down and run an open government...that allows for cooling off periods and vetting." Mr. Schmoltz

3:30 p.m. Official word in hearing is there will be a cut of $179M.
Please hold, while we get our thoughts together....

Watch here. Warning: Keep the Motrin handy....

3:20 p.m. House Approps underway. First word is leadership in the House and Senate and Governor Brewer have agreed to a K-12 fund reduction of approx. $200M. If correct, that's a $40M reduction from the Senate's proposed cut. However, it's approx. 

3:08 p.m. It looks like we have another 15 minute delay. We're hesitant to suggest this thing might not happen, as we've lived through one too many late night budget cram sessions. Some of us have yet to recover from the '09 Senate session that ran out the fiscal year clock.

2:09 p.m. Now word is Appropriations hearing has been moved to 3:00. If hearing gets started at all, there's no way members get home before midnight tonight.

Arizona Students' Association is reporting cuts to higher ed have been reduced from $235 million to $198 million. We're still searching for K-12 striker.

1:48 p.m. House is recessing. Appropriations will get underway shortly. Find a link to the strikers for SB 1612-1624 (the budget bills), here. The striker for K-12 (SB1617) is not up.

Gang, it looks like it's going to be a very, very long and "fluid" afternoon, as House Speaker Adams requests members to stay close to the Capitol for the remainder of the day.

Link below will take you to HHR 1.

1:37 p.m. Today's Arizona House Appropriations hearing was originally scheduled to take place at 9 a.m. It was later rescheduled for 1:45 p.m. this afternoon. However, with the House Floor Session just underway, it would appear as though the Appropriations hearing won't begin on time.

Link to live feed here.

Your AEN team will be live blogging today's activities/details on the budget deal/compromise. Again, your patience and forgiveness for various typos or grammatical errors is greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Nuclear Waste for Schools?

Senator Al Melvin (LD 26) has sponsored a bill (SB 1548) that would allow companies from out of state to store nuclear waste in Arizona. Associated fees and proceeds collected from the state would be put toward funding public education.

The bill passed Senate 20 -9.

Speak Up Against Silencing Educators!

While the Arizona House and Senate leadership is said to be negotiating the budget with Governor Brewer, two non-budget related bills are moving right along. If adopted, these bills will effectively silence the voices and participation of citizens in professional organizations who, either by their election by Arizona voters or by paid profession, work in public education.

Below are descriptions and the impacts associated with both bills, as well as what you can do to speak up against this effort to discriminate against teachers and repress the local control voters entrust to their elected school board members.

The first bill is SB 1365. This bill targets public and private school employees (teachers, plumbers, secretaries) to require them to renew their membership fees in professional organizations every year in writing. The professional organizations would likely lose members, as well as incur costs associated with creating a government-imposed bureaucracy to comply with this law.

Why this matters:
  • Membership in professional organizations allows for effective communication about issues. This bill restricts that communication. This bill only applies to professional organizations that have “political purposes” such as communicating to the public how certain laws or proposals would affect schools.
  • This bill targets education employees, but not other public employees.
  • This bill makes government bigger by requiring extra administrative work.

The second bill is HB 2002. This bill would prohibit school districts from paying for membership in an association that attempts to influence the outcome of an election, like the Proposition 100 election for the temporary 1-cent sales tax increase for public education and public safety.
  • This bill targets the Arizona School Boards Association (ASBA).  Arizona voters exercise local control when electing school board members for the school districts in their community. The citizen-elected school board members debate whether or not they will pay dues to ASBA. School board members are not paid. When a board decides to become a member of ASBA, the dues are paid by the school district.

Why this matters:
  • ASBA provides 2 very valuable things to Arizona schools:
  1. ASBA keeps school policies up-to-date with the latest changes in law. If every school had to separately pay lawyers to re-write school policies every time a law changed, it would be a huge amount of redundant work. ASBA lawyers re-write the appropriate school policies to comply with the new laws and suggest those changes to school district governing boards that are members of ASBA. Governing board members may choose to simply accept the suggestions or to modify them for their schools. Local control at work!
  2. ASBA trains school board members. There are hundreds of laws and responsibilities that school board members should know. Having a knowledgeable school board ensures the effective stewardship of district policies and procedures. School board members spend their own personal time and cover their own transportation costs to attend ASBA trainings.
  • ASBA provides information to Arizona voters. Sometimes, school board members elect committees to decide whether ASBA will support or oppose certain election issues, such as Prop 100. When they do decide to support an issue, ASBA communicates its decision, in a straight- forward explanation to the public.
To learn more about ASBA, click here.

What you can do:

Write, email and/or call your elected representatives and urge them to vote "NO" on HB 2002 and SB 1365. Tell them these bills do nothing to balance our state budget. They simply repress the local control voters entrust to their elected school board members, and they discriminate against and silence the voices of our educators, who regardless of their profession, are entitled to the same democratic rights afforded all American citizens.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Join the Rally for a People's Budget this Wednesday!

Rally for a People's Budget

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

State Capitol Rose Garden
1700 West Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ
Directions/map here.

All are invited to participate in the Protecting Arizona's Family Coalition (PAFCO) Rally for a People's Budget this Wednesday at the state capitol. 

This will be an energy-filled gathering to call for public accountability against the irresponsible and shameful budgets proposed by some lawmakers.  There will be great speakers in addition to legislative and media actions.

Spread the word and bring lots of friends and neighbors!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

AEN President & UA President on KUAT's Arizona Illustrated

Arizona Education Network President, Ann-Eve Pedersen and University of Arizona President Robert Shelton joined Kimberly Craft on KUAT's Arizona Illustrated, Tuesday, March 22, explaining the impact of proposed budget cuts on Arizona's students.

To write a letter to the 60 CEOs mentioned in this interview, click here.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sen. Russell Pearce and Sen. David Schapira Discuss Cuts to Education

Senator Russell Pearce and Senator David Schapira discuss the cuts to education and the Senate budget now being considered in the House on tonight's (3/21/11) Horizon on Phoenix Channel Eight.

If you have trouble viewing video, click here.

AZ Republic Explains Importance of Dollars Spent Outside of Classroom

Each year the Arizona Auditor General releases a report on classroom spending. “Classroom spending” is defined by the Auditor General’s Report as:

  • Classroom personnel—Salaries and benefits for teachers, teachers’ aides, substitute teachers, graders, and guest lecturers.
  • General instructional supplies—Paper, pencils, crayons, instructional aids, etc.
  • Textbooks, workbooks, software, films, etc.
  • Activities—Field trips, athletics, and co-curricular activities such as choir and band.
  • Tuition—Paid to out-of-state and private institutions.

It does not include administration, plant operations and maintenance, food service, transportation, instructional support services or student support services.

On Sunday, March 20, 2011, the Arizona Republic published an investigative article on school funding inside and outside the classroom. The Republic points out that, ” [i]n general, Arizona spends less per student in almost all areas of K-12 because it spends significantly less overall than the nation.”

The Republic also reports that:

  • “Each of Arizona’s 225 districts faces its own unique factors that affect costs, including size, location, student makeup, property values and the management skills of its superintendents and other leaders.”
  • “An Arizona Republic analysis shows instead that Arizona K-12 schools spend a smaller share of their budgets on superintendents, principals and other administrators than the national average.”
  • “The percentage of Arizona children living in poverty and found to have disabilities has risen dramatically over the past decade. Those students need more attention from therapists and counselors, and districts must provide much of it under federal law.” Many of these services are not considered part of classroom spending for purposes of the Auditor General’s Report.
  • “Arizona’s excessive heat and its many energy-inefficient facilities may push up the share of money to operate school buildings in Arizona, education experts say.”

Read the complete Arizona Republic Report, Arizona schools’ expenses outside of class rise, Arizona Republic, March 20, 2011.

Read our analysis of the 2010 Auditor General’s Report at AZ Auditor General Report: AZ spends nearly $2,500 less per pupil than national avg.

You can also view our analysis of the reports in 2008 and 2009.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

UA Proposes 22% Tuition Increase; Additional Increases Possible

The Arizona Daily Star is reporting that the University of Arizona is proposing a 22% increase in tuition. If approved by the Board of Regents, the new tuition level will be DOUBLE the tuition charged just six years ago.  This would still only raise $22 million. Governor Brewer's budget cuts $67 million from UA and the Senate budget cuts the UA by $92 million. 

And this is a state where the constitution requires that "higher education be as nearly free as possible"?

Read the complete story, UA tuition proposal calls for a 22% hike, Arizona Daily Star, March 19, 2011.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Late Night Live Blogging: AZ Senate Debates Budget Bills

10:28 p.m. As this budget appears destined for the AZ House, we're going to wrap up our late night live blogging. Thank you for hanging with us. Next time we hope to get enough notice to have milk and cookies for all. :)


10:25 p.m. SB 1617 passes.

Time to call your state representatives, as bills will be heading to the House for their consideration!

10:13 p.m. SB 1616 passes. SB 1617 K-12 passes 20-10. Looked away, so unsure who that 10th "no" belongs to. On to SB 1618. Sen. Cajero Bedford rises to explain her vote to point out that members who have children or grandchildren who may go off to school some day, that we're cutting the universities substantially and putting our state at a disadvantage.

Sen. Sinema rises to explain her vote on SB 1617 to point out that this budget will be the deepest cut to universities in Arizona's history. "Shifting the cost of teaching and learning farther onto the students themselves." Cuts to universities in this budget are larger than all the cuts from the last four years combined.

10:11 p.m. SB 1615 passes the way they all are. The rest of the bills will go this way. We'll stay through the higher ed bill, in case anything interesting is said on the Senate floor, though the steam is quickly leaving the room. It's been a long day there, folks. Although, by the looks of this budget, it'll be a longer day for many Arizonans tomorrow and the day after that.

10:07 p.m. SB 1614 passes, 21-9. Yup. On its way to the House.

10:05 p.m. SB 1613, passes 21-9. Bill will now be transmitted to the House. On to SB 1614.

10:01 p.m. On to third reading of bills. It's the whole thing all over again. Just with amendments.

Up first, SB 1612. Sen. Lopez rises to explain her vote. "I hope the members of this body remember the victims of the Arizona tsunami in their prayers. And I vote 'no.'"

21 yes, 9, no bill passes. Secretary will transmitted bill to the House.

9:57 p.m. Sen. Pearce back in the saddle. The Senate secretary is reading the report. Sen. Gallardo has requested a roll call vote, Sen. Lopez has seconded, to include the Gallardo Floor Amendment to SB 1612. 6 yes, 20 nos, 4 not voting. Amendment fails.

9:54 p.m. On to 1624. Baring someone breaking out into a tarantella on the senate floor, it looks like this thing is about to wind down.

9:50 p.m. On to SB 1621. Sen. Biggs Floor Amendments now. And those have been adopted. So bill has been moved and now we're on to SB 1622.

SB 1622 moves on. Now to 1623. Seven minutes to bedtime!

9:44 p.m. Floor amendments being offered by minority party to SB 1620 to reinstate funds for vulnerable Arizonans, seniors and children.

9:41 p.m. Sen. Sinema explaining her floor amendment to SB 1619, which would close a tax loophole and direct funds to AHCCCS. And the amendment fails.

SB 1619 moves forward. On to SB 1620.

9:39 p.m. Sen. Aboud Floor Amendment to SB 1619 would have taken $1.4 million from a fund set aside for auto theft and transfer that money to AHCCCS for transplant services. Amendment fails.

Sen. Gallardo Floor Amendment. Revives the floor amendment from SB 1612, another attempt to put $1.4 million to AHCCCS for transplant services. Amendment fails.

9:36 p.m. On to SB 1619. If they keep up this pace, COW should be done before our bedtime.

More floor amendments. We'll stay online until we're sure the work of the day has concluded. Stay tuned or check back in the morning.

9:32 p.m. SB 1618: Higher Education FY 2011-2012 Budget Reconciliation Bill.

Sen. Biggs Floor Amendment removes language that community colleges provide braille text books. Amendment adopted.

Sen. Schapira Floor Amendment up now re: student aid. Amendment fails.

9:24 p.m. SB 1617 has an Appropriations Committee Amendment. And there's a Schapira Floor Amendment as a substitution to the Appropriations Committee Amendment. Got that?

Sen. Schapira on amendment relates to removing language in the bill that relates to excess utilities, as well as removing the kindergarten tuition language, and "backdoor" tax increases.

Sen. Schapira Floor Amendment fails.

Appropriations Committee Amendment passes.

Sen. Biggs Amendment removes language for school districts and charters to charge all day kindergarten tuition. Sen. Biggs amendment is adopted.

9:24 p.m. Sen. Aboud "On behalf of Pima County, I don't like we have to pay $6 million to the state to help them pay off their debt."

SB 1616 goes forward. On to SB 1617: K-12 FY 2011-2012 Budget Reconciliation Bill.

9:18 p.m. On to SB 1616. There is a Sen. Sinema Floor Amendment, that creates revenue by closing a loophole, that can then fund transplants for AHCCCS patients. The loophole is the Accounting Tax Credit, which allows businesses to claim a tax credit for $10,000 a year for filing their business tax credits.

Sen. Sinema Floor Amendment fails.

9:14 p.m. And now SB 1615. Sen. Biggs Floor Amendment. Sen. Aboud rises in support of Sen. Biggs Floor Amendment. Amendment passes.

9:12 p.m. Now SB 1614. Looks like tonight's COW found it's groove. [COW = Committee of the Whole]

9:11 p.m. On to SB 1613.

9:09 p.m. Sen. Gallardo rises in opposition to SB 1612.

SB 1612 passes COW.

9:06 p.m. Sen. Pearce speaking about the transplant patients, his work to raise private funds for transplants, and the state check book being empty.

9:04 p.m. Sen. Aboud rises in opposition to SB 1612, mentions testimony from representatives from the various counties who spoke out about the cost shift this budget would transfer from the state to the counties across the state.

9:00 p.m. Sen. Landrum Taylor Floor Amendment. Would restore funding to universities. Floor amendment fails.

Sen. Schapira Floor Amendment up now. "It addresses issue re: excess balances in school districts. State law says if they have excess balances they have to stop accessing the property taxes. Assuming the districts are following the law, those districts, if we take that money from them, they'll no long be able to give property owners that tax break. We are indirectly increasing property taxes for tax payers in those school districts."

Sen. Schapira Floor Amendment fails.

8:58 p.m. Sen. Sinema explaining her floor amendment re: to Prop. 204 re: tobacco tax settlement. Hold with us, folks. These floor amendments aren't available online just yet.

Sen. Sinema Floor Amendment fails.

8:57 p.m. Gallardo Floor Amendment to SB 1612 fails. Sad.

Sen. Sinema Floor Amendment is up now.

8:51 p.m. SB 1612 being amended on the floor. Sen. Biggs Amendment passes.

Sen. Gallardo Amendment up now. "I pay $18.00 a pay period and the state pays the rest. What I propose is that the state takes that appropriation and pays for the health care for others first. We're the first ones to stand up and accept government paid health care. I say we cut our health care and cover transplants. Let's make sure we pay for the health care for the most vulnerable people in our state. Let's lead by example and cut our health care first."

Sen. Landrum Taylor and Sen. Lopez rise in support of Gallardo Floor Amendment.

8:47 p.m. Sen. Gould reviewing points of order. "You're only allowed to rise to speak once per motion. If a senator asks you to yield, that is part of your three minutes. You're only going to have three minutes. Sponsor allowed three minutes to open, and three minutes to close. It's gender neutral."

Here we go again....

Senate floor session underway after the conclusion of the Senate Rules Committee hearing. How long tonight's session goes, is anyone's guess. Will live blog for as long as our eye can stay open.

Live Blogging the AZ Senate Appropriations Hearing!

Thank you for following our adventures in live blogging during today's committee hearing. We will be writing up summaries and updates as these bills continue through the legislative process.

It isn't too late to contact your senator and urge them to vote "NO" to this budget package.

If you are feeling social, check out "Can't Survive 235" on Facebook!

And a big "thank you" to Daisy, who sends encouragement from the fine state of Wisconsin.

Your AEN Live Blogging Team

4:15 p.m. The Senate Appropriations Committee has adjourned, passing the last of the thirteen budget bills, SB 1624.

Our apologies for the gap in posting. The only education related bill remaining on today's agenda was SB 1618; FY 2011-2012 Higher Education Budget Reconciliation. We missed committee discussion on this particular bill. However, we will post a link to today's entire committee hearing, once the video has been published on the Arizona legislative website.

The vote detail for SB 1618 is below:

Member Name  Vote  Member Name Vote             Member Name           Vote

Paula Aboud     N       Sylvia Allen        Y                Olivia Cajero Bedford N

Rich Crandall   Y        Lori Klein           Y                Al Melvin                    Y

Rick Murphy   NV      David Schapira   N               Don Shooter               Y

Kyrsten Sinema N    Steve Smith        Y                 Ron Gould                   Y

Andy Biggs       Y


1:35 p.m. SB 1615 passes. On to SB 1619.

1:27 p.m. SB 1615 bill is up now. Just so you don't have to scroll to the bottom of this long post, you can find the link to live feed here.

1:22 p.m. Discussion on SB 1614 and comment from public right now. Up next: SB 1615. Live blogging might hit the "pause" while kiddo is collected from school. :)

SB 1614 passes along party lines. On to SB 1615.

1:15 p.m. SB 1617 passes 9 - 4. On to SB 1614.

12:50 p.m. SB 1617 voting underway:

Sen. Aboud: Can make all the cuts we want, but if we don't have a trained work force, we won't be able to attract businesses to our state. We talk about wanting to create an economy, having jobs, and then we cut education. Votes no.

Sen. Allen votes aye.

Sen. Cajero Bedford votes no.

Sen. Klien votes aye.

Sen. Shooter votes aye.

Sen. Melvin votes aye.

Sen. Sinema votes no.

Sen. Crandall: Making comments on his vote re: to education reform. "We have ways to make education work with the budget we have. Difficult to initiate any kind of educational reform if we don't have people making an effort to learn more." Votes aye.

Sen. Murphy dittos Sen. Crandall's comments. "Education spending has tripled after being adjusted for inflation, and the results have been stagnant at best. The problem is we aren't innovating in our education system nearly enough. I'm glad that this bill is innovating in this state. This country wants the status quo and wants more money for the status quo. They care more about the money....The bottom line is I had a blended education, public and private. And if I hadn't been in those private schools, I wouldn't have been ready." And so on and so forth. Votes aye.

Sen. Schapira wonders what the end result, when have cut too much? When have we sacrificed the core mission of education before funding matter? How big do our class sizes have to get? "At the end of the day, all we're doing is increasing the disparity between 'the haves' and 'the have nots.'" Votes no.

Sen. Sinema thinks the verbal amendment with kindergarten issue is a good thing, but there are a number of things in the bill that cause her great concern. Votes no.

Sen. Gould votes aye.

Sen. Biggs votes aye.

12:47 p.m. SB 1617 being voted on, with both a Biggs amendment and a verbal amendment.

Note: Many organizations have signed in against this bill, however none of them are being read allowed, into the record. This may be a time saving issue, but for those watching, know that the education community put out an all-call last night to those who can sign in, to do so.

12:45 p.m. Sen. Gould acknowledges feeling gamed by Prop. 100, like many voters and those in the education community might. [Albeit for different ideological reasons. Of course.]

12:38 p.m. Jennifer Loredo with Arizona Education Association speaking against SB 1617. Reminded committee about the AEA's support of Prop. 100, the message that we all understood that if we passed Prop. 100 our schools would be spared cuts.

Larger class sizes, reduction in librarians, vital staff. Schools are trying to reduce the impact in the classroom as much as possible, but the reduction in staff is leading many districts to see a rise in class size.

Sen. Aboud asking Ms. Loredo about class size, number of desks available for desks. "We're hearing from teachers, 'We're literally at capacity in our classroom. So when we get another student, and we have nowhere for them to sit, then yes, they are sitting on the floor.'"

12:34 p.m. On to SB 1617 K-12 portion of the budget. Kindergarten portion, requiring all districts that offer full-day kindergarten to charge tuition will be amended on the floor, as it was poorly written and shouldn't have been included in the bill, per Sen. Crandall. That was as much explanation as was offered. We'll post once we learn further details.

12:28 p.m. After 24 minutes of explanation of votes, Senate Committee passes SB 1612, 9-4.
On to SB 1613.

SB 1613 passes 9-4 with no debate.

12:04 p.m. While updating the vote detail, we inserted the votes of some senators out of order. :)

Sen. Cajero Bedford: "With respect to transparency, the state Democrats have had less than 24 hours to go through this budget." Votes no.

Sen. Allen: Constituents are asking her to cut spending. Votes aye.

Sen. Crandall votes aye.

Sen. Klien votes aye.

Sen. Sinema votes no.

Sen. Smith says number of people signed in against SB 1612 is irrelevant, as there have been other bills that haven't turned out as much public input. Asks rhetorical question, "If we don't cut you, who?" paraphrasing, of course. Votes aye.

*Editor's note to Sen. Smith: Maybe the number of folks who have signed in is a testament to the outpouring of support for our state, our state's economic future? Just a thought.

Sen. Melvin: "New class warfare is the public sector vs. private sector.  Concerned about generational theft. This process is working itself out in WI, IN, OH, in other states throughout the country and we have an obligation to make sure we don't spend what we don't have." Votes aye.

Sen. Murphy votes aye.

Sen. Schapira: "To the point of generational theft, we are stealing education away from our children." Votes no.

Sen. Shooter votes aye, after assuring audience that he welcomes public input and participation in process.

Sen. Gould votes aye after an explanation of his vote.

Sen. Biggs votes aye.

12:01 p.m. Sen. Aboud: Public is speaking and they do not want this bill. Votes no.

11:57 a.m. Committee is about to vote on SB 1612. Some discussion re: Sen. Biggs' amendment.

11:52 a.m. The loophole discussion continues. Sen. Sinema points out liposuction isn't taxed. Sen. Gould doesn't want his constituents to pay taxes on their haircuts.

11:45 a.m. Sen. Aboud reminds Sen. Smith that state can get $17 million right now by closing loophole for the 4 inch pipe. Sen. Smith: "Close loopholes for corps, you grow the unemployment line."

11:33 a.m. Mark Barnes with AZ Community Colleges Council up now, discussing cuts to community colleges. Barnes: "I read a study a while ago, that 61% of jobs in AZ in 2018 will require some level of post secondary of education, we hope to be provider of choice." Reminder: In Senate majority proposal, Arizona community colleges would be cut $72 million.

11:26 a.m. Stacy Morely (spelling of last name may be incorrect) with Arizona Department of Education agency speaking now against SB 1612. Concerned cuts to agency, though less than $1 million cut, will impact agency's School Finance and IT programs.

11:25 a.m.  David Martinez concludes testimony and discussion with committee. Outstanding voice for our state's university students!

Sen. Allen: "Do you encourage them to adjust their budget without putting it on the back of students?"

11:11 a.m. While we're listening to the comments re: university cuts/impacts, we're reminded of this March 13, 2011 AZ Republic article about the tax break for University of Phoenix's parent company, Apollo, a for-profit university. AZ lawmakers are considering a bill that, according to the AZ Dept. of Revenue, would cost the state $33.2 million annually in tax revenue.

10:57 a.m. David Martinez with the Arizona Students' Association speaking to committee re: the impact of current budget reductions, creating a 63% increase in student tuition to state universities. This increase to tuition, says Martinez, pushes more students to take out loans with large interest rates in order to complete their education. Further, this increase in student loans is adding to the over all national debt when they simply find they cannot repay the loans. Martinez points out that there already has been $230 million cut from higher education funding. Should the budget proposal being considered be adopted, it would equate to a 50% cut in funding to our universities. His testimony continues, as he answers questions from Sen. Schapira (LD17)  and Sen. Sinema (LD15).

Per Martinez's testimony, current university cuts have already impacted state universities the following ways:
Over 2,000 faculty/staff positions eliminated
180 colleges programs have merged/consolidated
8 extended campuses have closed
63% raise in state university tuition

10:47 a.m. On the social media front: A new Facebook page "Can't Survive $235!" has been created by university faculty and staff to raise awareness of the devastating cuts to higher education.

10:27 a.m. Posting delayed, as most of public comments continue to focused on (and rightfully so) county concerns re: cost shift. Sen. Al Melvin (LD26) explaining the cost savings of filling jobs once held by county employees with inmates to help counties with maintenance duties, etc.

10:26 a.m. While waiting for comments re: county/prison cost shift, take a look at the LUMP SUM reductions to our state universities, as stated in SB 1612:
ASU total cut: $107 million
UA total cut: $92 million
NAU total cut: $36 million
Arizona community colleges total cut: $72 million 

10:00 a.m. Off the education topic, but in way of explaining long pause in update: Comments are being heard on burden shift to counties. Specific concerns are being expressed regarding prisoners. "We're returning a prison population to the counties that we took when you [counties] were broke. We're broke. So we're returning them to you....We're going back to the way things were." Sen. Shooter

9:50 a.m. Public allowed to speak on bill. Given 3 minutes to speak. So far, public comments have urged the committee to avoid devastating cuts to our state's most vulnerable. A great deal of support for public education in the room today.

9:45 a.m. SB 1612 Senate Fact Sheet here. Friend to AEN submitted the following explanation on the difference between SB 1612 the General Appropriations FY 2011-2012 bill, and the rest of the bills listed below.
"[G]eneral appropriations" is for the actual numbers of appropriations, the rest are for 'budget reconciliation bills.' [or BRBs] Since the lege is forbidden by the AZ constitution from passing substantive changes to law in an appropriations bill, the annual budget is actually a package of bills.
One bill, the general appropriations bill, is the numbers bills, while the BRBs are for changes to law to make the budget work

The remaining bills are the BRBs, the bills that make the budget work."
We're grateful for our smart, wonky friends. :)

9:44 a.m. Senate Appropriations underway. Order of bills SB 1612, 1613, 1617, 1614, 1615, 1619, 1616, 1618, 1620, 1621, 1622, 1623, and 1624.

9:32 a.m. Hearing appears to getting a late start. Senators arriving. Feed is live here.

9:15 a.m. Good morning, folks!

Your AEN team will be live blogging the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing that is scheduled to get underway at 9:30 a.m.  Please have patience with us, as there may be typos, misspellings, and dangling participles.

Feel free to watch along with us by clicking here.

You can find the agenda here.

And to get caught up on the latest news about the thirteen budget bills proposed by the Senate majority party, visit our post by clicking here.

If you'd like to contact your legislator and express your concerns about the cuts to education, click here.