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WASHINGTON (AP) — Refusing to bend to the new Republican Congress, President Barack Obama unveiled Tuesday night an ambitious State of the Union agenda steeped in Democratic priorities, including tax increases on the wealthy, education and child-care help for the middle class and a torrent of veto threats for the GOP's own plans.
No matter what health plan you purchased through Arizona’s Health Insurance Marketplace last year, you can still change plans for 2015.
Doug Ducey wants to make empty schools and classrooms in existing public schools available to other public and charter schools that have students waiting to enroll.
As a Democrat, the November elections were not kind to my party. We lost, often badly, in most of the races where we ran competitive campaigns. There are many reasons for this defeat, but the conclusion is the same: when it comes to the reins of power in Arizona, Republicans hold all of the cards.
With the new year upon us, there are a host of issues state leaders likely will face in 2015.
be in Arizona Saturday as she works to encourage residents to sign up for individual health insurance or renew and re-enroll for coverage they bought last year.
December is the season for giving, and Arizona's generous charitable tax credits make it easy and painless to help people in need during the holidays while also brightening your New Year by cutting your state tax bill. Mesa United Way is now certified to accept charitable foster care tax credit donations as well as the standard charitable tax credit, which allows you to double your giving as well as your tax break.
Like filing your income taxes with pen and paper? The state is going to make it more difficult for you to get the forms you need. And if you don't have a computer, then be prepared to spend some time on the road to get them.
Republican Doug Ducey coasted to victory in the gubernatorial race Tuesday, fueled by unprecedented spending of outside dollars in attack ads on his Democrat foe.
Democrat Fred DuVal used the last gubernatorial debate Tuesday to essentially accuse Doug Ducey of class warfare, robbing from schools to give tax breaks to the rich.
PARADISE VALLEY -- Democrat Fred DuVal used the last gubernatorial debate Tuesday to essentially accuse Doug Ducey of class warfare, robbing from schools to give tax breaks to the rich.
Ducey has centered his gubernatorial campaign on his theme of "kick-starting'' Arizona's moribund economy. Central to that is his promise to work to eliminate the state income tax. But DuVal told an audience of two different women's groups such a move would be irresponsible.
He cited the anticipated deficit of $500 million this fiscal year and more than $1 billion next year. That includes a court order to immediately boost school funding by $331 million, a decision DuVal said he will accede to and that Ducey wants to appeal.
"This is a choice you get to make,'' DuVal said.
"Doug's priority is to lower taxes for the wealthiest among us,'' he continued. "My priority is to assure that we adequately fund schools.''
But Ducey appears to be backing away -- or at least finessing -- his position on tax cuts.
During both the Republican primary and since then, Ducey has said he wants to move toward eliminating the tax, or at least making it "flatter and fairer.'' Tuesday, however, he had a different message.
"No one's ever talked about eliminating the income tax,'' he told the audience. Instead he said his goal is simply to drive it "as close to zero as possible.''
And he even added some conditions Tuesday to pursuing that goal which has been a cornerstone of his campaign.
"It's where I would like to take the state,'' he said.
"But I've got to deal with the financial situation of the state as I find it as governor,'' Ducey explained. "And I'll do what's responsible and in the best interest of all of our citizens.''
Ducey disputed that cutting income taxes necessarily means there will be less money for public schools. And Ducey said that he does not necessarily believe that restoring school funding to where it would have been had lawmakers not ignored a voter-approved mandate to adjust annually for inflation will lead to better schools.
The key, he said, is finding better ways to educate children.
"We are underperforming across the state,'' Ducey told the audience.
"But we have pockets of excellence in the state,'' he continued, citing reports that three of the Top 10 high schools in the nation as ranked by U.S. News and World Reports are located here: two Basis charter schools and University High School in Tucson.
Ducey said he would look at the "best practices'' of those schools "so more of our children have a better opportunity.''
Ducey also cited reports from the Auditor General's Office which for the past decade have shown that an ever-smaller percentage of tax dollars is actually winding up in the classroom.
The most recent report shows that less than 54 cents of every education dollar was put into things like teacher salaries. That compares with 58.6 cents a decade earlier, a trend Ducey said he wants to reverse.
But DuVal said the rest of the report found that administrative costs for things like superintendents, principals, business managers and clerical staff is below the national average. Instead, the report said what's making up the difference are fixed non-instructional costs like heating, cooling and running school buses.
And Auditor General Debra Davenport specifically said that's a direct function of less money overall for schools. She said the only place to cut was the classroom, citing figures that while the number of children attending Arizona public schools has dropped by 3 percent since 2009, the number of teachers dropped by 8.6 percent.
"The reason there isn't more money going into the classroom is there isn't enough money,'' DuVal said.
That still leaves DuVal's contention that Ducey's plan to cut income taxes is designed to favor the wealthy.
"The income tax is paid disproportionately by wealthy,'' DuVal said, acknowledging that, by definition, people with more income pay more tax on that income. But he said all this comes as Arizona has one of the highest sales tax rates in the nation -- 5.6 percent plus all local levies -- a tax he called "regressive.''
"Our tax structure is clobbering working Arizona families,'' he told reporters after the debate.
"They're paying significantly more of their income in taxes than upper-income Arizonans,'' DuVal said.
Ducey said what will help businesses come to and expand in Arizona are things he promises like lower taxes and less regulation. But DuVal said some business leaders have suggested otherwise.
He cited comments made in 2011 by the former chief executive of Intel.
"The educational system in the United States and in Arizona in particular is not particularly attractive,'' Craig Barrett told the Arizona Commerce Authority. In fact, Barrett said the situation is so bar that if Intel were looking for a site to build an entirely new operation, as to expanding its $10 billion Arizona presence, the state would not even be on the list of Top 10 choices.
He was not alone in his comments.
"The education system here is very weak,'' said Doug Pruitt, at the time the chief executive of Sundt Construction.
Maricopa County residents will decide next month the role the county should play in Arizona’s health care system, which is already affected by state and federal health care programs.
The American Dream of homeownership is alive and well, just as it was before the housing crisis hit. Despite the extreme fallout from the Great Recession, people still want a place to call their own. A place where they can raise a family, make memories and live comfortably. And, while purchasing a new home provides tremendous opportunity for families looking to improve their lives, the implications are even greater to the economy as a whole.
The question of whether more tax cuts will restore the Arizona economy to pre-recession levels has become a key issue in this year's gubernatorial contest.
Conservative lobbyists want Arizona to join the growing list of states applying for the nation’s second constitutional convention.
A list compiled by a financial website and a business publication has listed three East Valley cities as among the nation’s best places for working families.
Gov. Jan Brewer will get a chance to stop some Republicans from trying to undermine the financing for her expansion of Arizona's Medicaid program.
The provision of a 2010 voter-approved measure saying Arizonans don't have to buy health insurance is unenforceable because it conflicts with the federal Affordable Care Act, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday.
And so it begins: another silly season when we will be assaulted by misleading, deceptive, out-of-context and sometimes just plain deceitful political advertising from those who believe they know what’s best for us voters!
Five of the six Republican candidates for governor debated a multitude of topics at a forum hosted by the East Valley Chambers of Commerce Alliance on July 28.
As we approach the primary election, Arizona is in an envious place right now. Of the six Republicans running for the governor’s office, each of the four front-runners arguably have the credentials to become a good governor for our state.
Talk about back to the future.
Former Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce has been offered a job with the Maricopa County Treasurer's office overseeing the agency's technical services department, but he may not take the job right away because he's too busy.
Is there any subject Linda Turley-Hansen is not upside-down on? She proves it once again with her most recent post about ex-President Reagan.