Right now, the most important thing you can do for our community is to sign – and ask your friends to sign – six petitions to help pause disastrous budget bills the legislature passed in June. I’m working with grassroots groups Invest in AZ Now and AZ Deserves Better who racing to gather 150,000 signatures before the end of this month.

If we don’t get enough signatures, policies will immediately go into effect that PERMANENTLY cut BILLIONS each year from state revenue we depend on for schools, roads, bridges, addressing our water shortage crisis, and other essential state responsibilitiesOverride the will of voters who passed Prop 208 to fund education by creating huge tax loopholes for the wealthiest Arizonans threaten your sacred right to voteYour signature is pivotal to making sure that voters can have the final say on these policies in the next election.

If you’ve already signed the petitions, please urge your friends to do so as well. Look below for where you can sign this week. 

Sign All Petitions Here!
Moon Valley Grill, 15414 N. 7th St
Wednesday, Sept 15,  3:30-6 pm

Invite your friends and stop Moon Valley Grill to sign all 6 petitions that can save our state in one place. As one of your representatives in the State House, I’ll be there to listen to you – and answer questions.  

OR Sign All Petitions & Meet Your Elected Leaders Here
Shadow Rock UCC, 12861 N. 8th Ave
Sunday, Sept 19, 4:30-6:30

AND: Volunteer to Promote Sunday’s Signing Event!
Shadow Rock UCC, 12861 N. 8th Ave
Saturday, Sept 18, 9-10:30 am

Join us to leave flyers on some neighbors’ doors inviting them to our Sunday petition signing event at Shadow Rock from 4:30-6:30. Or, volunteer to text reminders to people on Sunday. Sign up by emailing us here. 

Can’t make those events?

For more dates and locations, check the
Invest in AZ Now Mobilize site here
and the AZ Deserves Better EveryAction site here. 

If You’ve Already Signed Petitions
I Invite You to Be Part of  My Campaign

In this, my first year representing our community, I’ve gained a whole new appreciation for the importance of electing people who like me, want to make sure every Arizonan gets their chance to thrive.

Unfortunately, too many people at the Capitol prioritize only those who have already become financially successful, leaving the rest of us to deal with underfunded schools, a drastic teacher shortage,  soaring healthcare costs, a lack of affordable housing, not enough good-paying jobs, crumbling infrastructure, a climate crisis and other urgent issues.

I’ve also gained a new appreciation for the fact that no one can do this job alone. It truly does take a village.  I hope you will be part of our village of volunteers and contributors to ensure that I can continue to represent you and your priorities. Please sign up to donate and/or volunteer.

Dear Whitney,

While we elect legislators to set policy and priorities for our state, in fact, as citizens, YOU have the ultimate say. And right now, your signature on several petitions is pivotal to making sure you can indeed have that final say on bills passed in this year’s legislative session that

  • create tax loopholes for the wealthiest Arizonans that will cut billions of dollars in state revenue needed for schools, infrastructure, solutions for the water shortage crisis, and other essential state responsibilities AND
  • threaten your sacred right to vote

I’ve provided a brief description of each petition farther down in this email.

Please use the power of your pen to be one of the 150,000 signatures grassroots organizers need by mid-September to place six referendums on the 2022 ballot so that voters can decide.

Read on to find out where you can go to sign these -as well as petitions to Stop Dark Money.

While you’re at it, I would also appreciate your signature on my nominating petition to help me earn a place on the 2022 ballot to represent our district.

Sincerely,
Judy
Rep Judy Schwiebert, LD20

jSchwiebert@azleg.gov.  – 602-926-3390 (office)

If You’ve Already Signed Petitions

I Invite You to Be Part of  My Campaign

In this, my first year representing our community, I’ve gained a whole new appreciation for the importance of electing people who like me, want to make sure every Arizonan gets their chance to thrive.

Unfortunately, too many people at the Capitol prioritize only those who have already become financially successful, leaving the rest of us to deal with underfunded schools, a drastic teacher shortage,  soaring healthcare costs, a lack of affordable housing, not enough good-paying jobs, crumbling infrastructure, a climate crisis and other urgent issues.

I’ve also gained a new appreciation for the fact that no one can do this job alone. It truly does take a village.  I hope you will be part of our village of volunteers and contributors to ensure that I can continue to represent you and your priorities. Please sign up to donate or volunteer at my website JudyForAZ.com

If You HAVEN’T Yet Signed Petitions 

Here’s Where You Can Sign All the Petitions at Once 

I’ll be at the following places in coming weeks where you can ask questions, sign and even pick up petitions to help gather signatures yourself!

  • THIS Saturday, July 31, from 9-10:30 am at a private home in Moon Valley. RSVP to eshelley1@mac.com for the exact address.
  • THIS Saturday, July 31, from 4-5:30 pm at a private home near 31st Ave & Thunderbird. RSVP to BVAANDRK@earthlink.net for the exact address.
  • NEXT Saturday, Aug 7 from 10 am-2 pm at a private home near 16th St and Greenway. RSVP to doug.ervin@gmail.com for the exact address.
  • Tuesday, Aug 10 from 6:30-7:30 pm at a private home in Moon Valley. RSVP to Liz.Curry3@gmail.com for the exact address.
  • Every Wednesday in Aug (4, 11, 18, 25) from 3:30-6 pm at Moon Valley Grill, 15414 N. 7th Street (NW corner of Coral Gables & 7th St).
  • Every Thursday in Aug (5, 12, 19, 26) from 3:30-6 pm at Daddy O’s Grill, 4163 W. Thunderbird (SE corner of 43rd Ave & T-bird).

Petitions Available for Your Signature

Grassroots groups need to gather 150,000 signatures on each of the following measures by mid-September in order to place them on the 2022 ballot so that voters can decide.

Invest in AZ NOW is collecting signatures to refer these bills to the ballot:

  • a “Flat Tax” that gives away billions in state revenue every year to millionaires (SB1828)

  • a Tax Cap that ensures the wealthy pay less than their fair share in income taxes to the General Fund (SB1827)

  • the attack on Prop 208 that will reduce voter-approved public school funding increases by 1/3 annually (SB1783)

Arizona Deserves Better is collecting signatures to refer these bills to the ballot:

  • the removal of voters who don’t vote regularly from the Permanent Early Voter List  (SB1485)

  • the prohibition of state and county election departments from accepting grants to help provide make elections accessible to more voters (HB2569)

  • partisan attacks that include requirements for bar or QR codes which imperil ballot secrecy (SB1819)

STOP Dark Money is collecting signatures on a measure to stop secret, dark money from buying our elections.

Judy Schwiebert (me!) is collecting signatures on her nominating petitions to place her name as a candidate to represent our district in the State House again in 2022. You can sign in person – or online at JudyForAZ.com. There may be nominating petitions available for other candidates at the above events as well.

Your signature on any of these petitions does not commit your vote.  It only indicates your support for putting these measures – or candidates on the 2022 ballot so voters can decide.

Get Your Free COVID Shot!

The new Delta variant has created another spike in COVID infections. The more Arizonans who get vaccinated, the more we can all safely get back to the things we love. If you aren’t yet fully vaccinated, I urge you to contact your doctor or local healthcare provider, or go to https://noahhelps.org/covid-vaccine/ where you can schedule a vaccine appointment at a Neighborhood Outreach Access to Health (NOAH) center. 

You can also book appointments online at any state health department site at http://podvaccine.azdhs.gov or by calling 844-542-8201. A video tutorial on online appointment scheduling is available here

How Can We Help?

Constituent Services

As your representative, I’m here to listen and work for you. In addition to lawmaking, my office will make every effort to assist you with issues in which a state agency might help.

Even before officially taking office I was able to work with our Arizona Legislative staff to help people who contacted me about the difficulty they were having receiving long-delayed unemployment benefits.

Whatever the issue, we will do our best to help. Please contact my office at 602-926-3390 or jschwiebert@azleg.gov.

Please follow me on Twitter and Facebook using the links below.
Feel free to email me at jschwiebert@azleg.gov or call me at 602-926-3390

First, A Budget Recap

Wrong Priorities & Missed Opportunities

Business leaders, parents, grandparents, and others across Arizona are demanding that our state invest in education. The way to build a strong economy is to make sure we have a strong, educated workforce. Yet, the Arizona legislature’s on-going failure to adequately fund our public schools has left us ranked 49th in the nation in per pupil funding, resulting in crumbling school buildings, inadequate resources, and a severe teacher shortage. It’s criminal.

At a time when children in over 2,000 Arizona classrooms have no permanent, qualified teacher, the Republican majority’s response this year was to ram through tax cuts for the wealthiest Arizonans, thus shrinking the pie of revenue needed to invest in schools, infrastructure, care for our most vulnerable citizens, and other state responsibilities.

Non-partisan fiscal experts figure that 72% of state residents will see a benefit of less than $45.  More than half will see a net benefit of no more than $17. In the meantime, the wealthiest Arizonans will reap a benefit of over $350,000.

Then just for good measure, they also pushed through SB1783  a work-around which violates the will of voters who approved Prop 208 to increase public school funding.  It creates a loophole for the wealthiest Arizonans to avoid the Prop 208 surcharge, a loophole that experts predict will reduce that voter-approved school funding increase $300M annually.

So we’re giving away billions to the wealthiest Arizonans, when we COULD HAVE INVESTED

  • $14.3M in the AZ Early Intervention Program that provides vital services to families with newborn children and toddlers with disabilities

  • $12M to expand Kids Care that would help ensure health care for children in lower and middle income families

  • $7.5M in Preschool Development Grants for low income children. Our state loses out on millions of federal matching dollars each year because AZ refuses to make any investment in a program that experts say is vital for student success and lifelong learning. Reps Sierra, Lieberman and Supt Hoffman have been the leaders working to get this into the budget for years

  • The full $50M needed for the AZ Promise Program scholarship for low-income students instead of the $7.5M in the budget

  • The full $10M needed for students in Career and Technical Education programs instead of the $5M in the budget that ALSO postpones payment until students complete two years of training. (CTED students should be funded the same way as district and charter schools!)

  • The full $100M increase needed to educate Special Education students instead of the $50M in the budget.

  • The full $2.8M needed to pay for students’ AP test fees instead of the $1.3M in the budget

  • Fulfilling our promise to provide Arizona public schools with hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue lost during the pandemic due to distance learning requirements and attendance drops.

The GOOD NEWS – How you can help!

INVEST in AZ NOW!

But that’s not the end of the story!  People are already gathering signatures to put these tax loopholes on the 2022 ballot so Arizonans can have their say.  INVEST in AZ NOW, a coalition of non-partisan education groups including Stand for Children, Children’s Action Alliance, Save Our Schools, AZ Interfaith Network, AZ Center for Economic Progress, Friends of the AZ School Boards Association and AEA, is banding together to stop the 47 Republican legislators and one Republican governor from overturning the will of 1.7 million voters.

But they need your help NOW to gather the signatures needed to refer these otherwise permanent tax cuts to the voters. YOU ARE THE ONE WHO CAN MAKE THE DIFFERENCE!

Sign up here to volunteer, donate, or host an event to gather signatures. 

Attacks on AZ Elections

Defending Your Sacred Right to Vote

As your representative, I’m committed to the sacredness of every vote in safe, fair elections. The truth is that Arizona has long been a leader in conducting well-run, secure elections, and two legitimate audits by credible nationally-recognized firms confirmed that 2020 was no exception.

Still, the Republican majority in the Senate pursued an embarrassing audit by a company that revealed their incompetence at every turn and then legislators used their one vote majority in the State House and Senate to ram through a series of voter suppression bills grounded in baseless claims of fraud including

  • SB 1485 which renames the Permanent Early Voting List (PEVL) to the Active Early Voting list. If a voter does not vote an early ballot in elections (primary, general and municipal) for two election cycles, county recorders will notify the voter, who then has to sign and return the notice AND ALSO confirm their intent to remain on the list.
  • SB 2569 which prohibits State and County Election Departments from receiving grants to help run elections, including doing voter registration, like the drop boxes received on Navajo Nation in 2020
  • SB 1819 which was rushed through at the end and contains a number of provisions.  The most concerning requires a specific type of ink and paper to be used for ballot and requires barcodes and QR codes on ballots, which could imperil the constitutional requirement for ballot secrecy

The majority also pushed through bills that attack our Constitutionally protected right to the initiative process that ensures all power ultimately rests with the people.

YOU can help defeat these when they appear on the 2022 ballot (with different numbers).

  • HCR 2001 restricted initiatives to a single subject

  • HCR 2016 requires a supermajority of 55% for an initiative to pass

  • SCR1024 increases the percentage of votes needed to prevent the governor or legislature from overriding the will of the voters

The GOOD NEWS – How you can help!

Arizona Deserves Better

Once again, the good news is that Arizona Deserves Better is collecting signatures NOW to let voters decide about whether to approve this extremist legislation that would 1) throw hundreds of thousands of infrequent voters off  the Permanent Early Voter List (SB1485), 2) prohibit private grants for State & County Elections Departments need to help inform voters and run elections (SB2569), and 3) require specific ink, paper, and barcodes that could imperil the secrecy of our ballots (SB1819).

But they need your help to gather 118,000 signatures in the next 90 days to put these measures on the 2022 ballot so we can stop  these attacks on our sacred right to vote.

Sign up NOW to donate, volunteer, or attend an event at their website.

MORE GOOD NEWS – you can help here, too!

Stop Dark Money!

A big reason for dysfunction and bad policy in our government comes from the impact of dark money, political spending on election advertising by anonymous sources. While ordinary citizens’ contributions to a campaign are capped and their names and addresses must be disclosed publicly, dark money sources are hidden and the amounts they can spend are unlimited.

Stop Dark Money is supporting a ballot initiative that if placed on the 2022 ballot and passed by voters, would require ALL major contributors to clearly identify themselves if they invest more than $5,000 to a campaign or candidate.

Help stop the buying of elections and politicians who serve their donors instead of their Arizona communities by signing the petition and volunteering here.

Get Your Free COVID Shot!

Have you gotten your COVID shot(s) yet? The more Arizonans who get vaccinated, the more we can all safely get back to the things we love. If you aren’t yet fully vaccinated, contact your local healthcare provider, or go to https://noahhelps.org/covid-vaccine/ to schedule a vaccine appointment at a Neighborhood Outreach Access to Health (NOAH) center. 

You can also book appointments online at any state health department site at http://podvaccine.azdhs.gov or by calling 844-542-8201. A video tutorial on online appointment scheduling is available here

How Can We Help?

Constituent Services

As your representative, I’m here to listen and work for you. In addition to lawmaking, my office will make every effort to assist you with issues in which a state agency might help.

Even before officially taking office I was able to work with our Arizona Legislative staff to help people who contacted me about the difficulty they were having receiving long-delayed unemployment benefits.

Whatever the issue, we will do our best to help. Please contact my office at 602-926-3390 or jschwiebert@azleg.gov.

Please follow me on Twitter, Facebook
using the links below.
Feel free to email me at jschwiebert@azleg.gov or call me at 602-926-3390

What would happen if…

…. Arizona legislators listened and worked together across party lines to create a budget that works for all Arizonans?  With an unexpected revenue surplus this year, we finally have the chance to address long-neglected needs in education, infrastructure, healthcare, and other state responsibilities that benefit every Arizonan. Unfortunately, even though Republicans hold only the slightest majority in the House (31-29) and Senate (16-14), they continue to exclude all Democrats (who represent nearly half the electorate) from budget discussions. That’s just wrong.

Just as significantly, their strategy to force through a budget with only Republicans isn’t working. 

On June 7, it took just one Republican to cross party lines and join Democrats to help defeat budget bills containing the PERMANENT now $1.9 billion annual tax cut. I recently wrote about why I oppose Gov Ducey’s disastrous “flat tax” plan – including the fact that our public education system and other vital services are desperate for more investment, not less,but Republicans like Rep David Cook say they ALSO oppose it because

  1. The revenue losses to cities and towns would devastate their ability to meet public safety and other expenses,
  2. Members were given no time to review the hundreds of pages of amendments we were presented just 30 minutes ahead of the vote,
  3. As many economists are pointing out, it’s not fiscally responsible to base a budget on revenue forecasts that may have  been artificially enhanced by billions of dollars of federal COVID relief,
  4. Arizona should be using more of this temporarily available revenue to pay off our substantial debt.


So many of us agree! Also, other Republicans in the House and Senate continue to voice other objections to this budget, making it all the less likely that Republicans can pass it alone.

A Skinny Budget?!

Recently, a Republican committee chair suggested to a Democratic legislator that she might just push for a so-called “skinny budget” again this year. (Providing just enough funding to keep the state running.) He responded as I would have NO!  

With the current surplus, we should pass a budget that makes major investments in our long-neglected responsibilities for classrooms, infrastructure, access to healthcare, and support for our local businesses, and leave the big tax and revenue policy changes for a special session later. Her immediate response was, “Oh no, I’d lose half the Republican votes.”  Well, you know what? We’d likely gain half the Democrats, giving us a truly bi-partisan budget. 
 
Democrats stand ready to work together on a budget that works for all Arizonans, not just the wealthiest few. And as Democratic Minority Leader Reginald Bolding recently explained, we support a tax policy that not only works for the short-term, but for the long-term as well. 
 
We open each House floor session with a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. Often, when I hear Republican members pray that we all work together for the good of Arizona, I think to myself, “There are 29 of us across the aisle raising our hands high, wanting very much to work together for the good of our state!”  Yet, we are ignored, and the priorities of the people we represent – nearly half of Arizona voters – are not considered. Nonetheless, Democrats continue to show up every day to work for our communities, ready to negotiate, and eager to add our own good ideas to the mix. There is so much we could agree on, if only we were allowed to participate. 
 
The people of Arizona are counting on us to work together on behalf of all of us.What if we actually did?


TAKE ACTION! Call the Governor’s office and the leadership of both the House and the Senate and ask them to create a responsible,  bipartisan budget that prioritizes investing in our communities, and paying down state debt.

Governor Ducey: 602-542-4331
Senate President Karen Fann: 602-926-5874
House Speaker Rusty Bowers: 602-926-3128


 

Juneteenth & Voting RightsAs we celebrate Juneteenth becoming a federal holiday this weekend, I was proud to help  launch 4 buses full of #FreedomRiders from Phoenix yesterday. They’re on their way to Washington DC to demand the Senate pass the #ForThePeopleAct. Juneteenth demands more than lip service. It requires our on-going commitment to protect hard-won voting rights that are once again under attack in Arizona and in states across the country. 
Climate Change and WildfiresOur current reality also makes clear why Gov Ducey’s  $1.9 Billion “flat tax” is a non-starter. Arizona needs this revenue to protect and invest in our people and state.  

To that end, I’m grateful that the governor called for a special session to address the increasing number of wildfires raging across our state. In Wednesday’s  hearing, our state’s head firefighter also shared they can’t use helicopters to scoop up water out of lakes and reservoirs since the water levels are so low.  Last year was the hottest summer in recorded history, and this week alone we’re facing record-shattering high temperatures.  


Arizonans deserve to live in healthier, safer communities. These increasing wildfires, drought conditions and temperatures are all evidence of the urgent
need for our state, like our cities, to make a plan to address the clear effects of climate change. 

For now, SB1001/HB2001, the single bill coming out of this special session, would provide a 3-year funding plan totaling, $170 million, which is $64.5 million higher than the May 24 budget plan for wildfire initiatives.  I appreciated seeing that $75 million of that would be directed to the suppression and mitigation for the aftermath of fires. 

Democrats also proposed an amendment that would add financial assistance to small businesses for emergency repairs that are required because of fire or fire suppression, but Republicans defeated it.
 
Get Your Free COVID Shot! Have you gotten your COVID shot(s) yet? The more Arizonans who get vaccinated, the more we can all safely get back to the things we love. If you aren’t yet fully vaccinated, contact your local healthcare provider, or go to https://noahhelps.org/covid-vaccine/ to schedule a vaccine appointment at a Neighborhood Outreach Access to Health (NOAH) center. 

You can also book appointments online at any state health department site at http://podvaccine.azdhs.gov or by calling 844-542-8201. A video tutorial on online appointment scheduling is availablehere

One of our local channels, AZ Family 3TV, has produced an original documentary about how the Justine Spitalny School in the Cartwright District faced the challenges of COVID with their students this year.  It’s a moving testament to the extraordinary, heartfelt work of so many teachers across the state who helped their students through this most challenging year. I highly recommend it! 

https://www.azfamily.com/d/empty_seats_full_hearts/watch/

Representing YOU in the Budget

I take seriously my job to represent you in the legislature, and to communicate back what’s happening at the Capitol.  Unfortunately, Republicans have completely excluded Democrats in creating a partisan budget for our state (though we represent almost half the voters).  The centerpiece is a flat tax plan that would give a PERMANENT $1.5 billion annual cut mainly benefitting the wealthiest Arizonans while neglecting our promise of opportunity and a thriving economy for everyone.   Based on what I’m learning from you and many stakeholders, here are the 4 reasons I oppose the flat tax. 

#1: It would give 91% of tax cuts to people in the top 20% of incomes. Earlier this week the non-partisan Joint Legislative Budget Committee (JLBC) released a chart showing the impact of Gov Ducey’s proposed flat tax on Arizonans. It reveals that 1.75 million AZ households – including 49% of those in our district would see only about $40 per year savings in state taxes. That equates to about a tank of gas these days. The real winners of this flat tax proposal would be the 1,019 Arizona taxpayers who make $5 million or more each year who would see a tax cut of $350,303.

#2: Working families ALREADY pay more than their fair share in taxes. Everyone should pay their fair share, but Arizona taxpayers with the lowest incomes already pay the highest percentage of their income in taxes. As you can see in this chart, those in the lowest 20% of income pay 13%, while those in the top 1% pay only 5.9% of their income in total taxes (income, property, and sales). While we often hear complaints about the 3.5% Prop 208 surcharge that the wealthiest Arizonans will now pay, the rest of the story is that they pay that surcharge only on TAXABLE income (after many possible deductions) OVER $500,000. The fact is that only 3% of Arizona small businesses will be impacted by the Prop 208 surcharge.

#3: The flat tax could severely cut our police & fire departments.  Because the state has a revenue sharing deal with cities, the Arizona’s $1.5 BILLION cuts would result in enormous losses in local revenue for cities across the state as well. The median impact to city/town budgets was 6.4% with the largest impact being 13%   Ongoing losses to local budgets of 3.5%-13% is extremely challenging, especially when those are on-going cuts. Mayor Kate Gallego recently shared with me that 70% of Phoenix’ budget goes to public safety. These cuts would devastate their ability to keep us all safe, as well as to maintain our roads and other city services.The impact is even worse for towns in rural Arizona. Even if the state agrees to temporarily reduce those losses to cities, it will be increasingly difficult for our state as well as cities across Arizona to provide the services that keep us all safe and growing.

#4: This HUGE, PERMANENT tax cut will handcuff future legislatures long after Gov Ducey is gone, leaving us unable to live within our means. While some claim that this tax cut would spur economic growth, the fact is that Arizona has cut taxes every year since 1990, resulting in $4.4 billion less in annual state revenue already, and the economic benefit has not trickled down to middle and working class families. In fact, the disparity between the wealthy and middle class has only widened – and we’re already unable to meet our promises as a state.

As a result of year after year of tax cuts,

  • Arizona ranks 49th in the nation in per pupil spending, and has among the lowest teacher pay in the country, even after the 20 by 2020 raises . That has led to an extreme teacher shortage, leaving children in over 1800 classrooms with no permanent, qualified teacher.
  • Auditors indicate our Department of Developmental Disabilities alone needs an additional $150 million EVERY YEAR to provide essential services for Arizonans. This budget provides only $30 million – for just THIS year, of course.
  • Roads and infrastructure across Arizona need immediate repairs. A number of road fixes are in this budget, but in other areas of the state, especially on native lands, roads are un-navigable in rainy seasons, keeping students and emergency vehicles from schools, home, or hospitals.  No funds are provided for those roads in this budget
  • The Housing Trust Fund, an effective tool for keeping those just a paycheck away from eviction from falling into homelessness needs to be restored.  I’m appalled to see $0 additional funding this year, especially at at time when so many families have been devastated by the pandemic and rents and housing prices are through the roof.
  • Arizona invests very little in the community colleges and state universities we depend on to prepare the strong, educated workforce we need for a thriving economy. New business people don’t grow on trees –  they grow in our schools, and THAT’s where we need to invest if we truly want to grow our economy.
  • Not enough state employees have had a raise in the past 10 years, making it difficult to attract and keep talent and expertise.
  • Arizona still faces considerable debt we should be paying off.
  • Our state faces a critical water shortage that needs attention at an as-yet unknown cost.

In 1992, voter-approved Prop 108 enacted a constitutional amendment that requires a 2/3 vote of the legislature to increase or add new taxes, thereby making any tax cut essentially permanent. As Director of Children’s Action Alliance David Lujan as well as former Governor Jan Brewer both wrote recently, these deep and permanent tax cuts are short sighted and could decimate our ability to live within our means. I believe it’s especially dangerous to make permanent tax cuts at a time  when so much of our one-time excess revenue is connected to federal pandemic relief, and we don’t know what lies ahead.

The one task required of your legislature is to create a budget. However, because many representatives and senators are NOT on board with these devastating tax cuts, leadership has announced that we will not return to the Capitol to vote on a budget until June 10.  In the meantime, Republican leaders in the House and Senate, as well as Governor Ducey are busy twisting arms.

We need YOU to help stop these dangerous cuts.  Call the Governor’s office and the leadership of both the House and the Senate and make your voice heard. Ask them to create a bipartisan budget that invests in our communities, pays down state debt, and includes a more reasonably-sized tax cut.

Governor Ducey: 602-542-4331
Senate President Karen Fann: 602-926-5874
House Speaker Rusty Bowers: 602-926-3128

As always, please contact me if you have questions or concerns.  Thank you for your support!

Representative from LD20
jSchwiebert@azleg.gov
602-926-3390 (office)
One of our local channels, AZ Family 3TV, has produced an original documentary about how the Justine Spitalny School in the Cartwright District faced the challenges of COVID with their students this year.  It’s a moving testament to the extraordinary, heartfelt work of so many teachers across the state who helped their students through this most challenging year. I highly recommend it!

The Budget May Come to the Floor This Week!

I take seriously the commitment I made  to work together as your representative to ensure that every student gets the quality education they deserve, and all Arizonans get their chance to thrive.

So, I’ve been especially disheartened to find that though both chambers are almost evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, the state budget, our primary responsibility as legislators, has been constructed in secret (again) this year by members of only the majority party. This past week, previews revealed that it is much more focused on permanent tax cuts of $1.5 billion annually for the wealthy while neglecting our underfunded education system and the promise of opportunity for every citizen.

About 90% of the people in LD20 will not see a DIME as a result of these cuts since they reduce taxes for only those with a household income over $500,000 per year, the group that pays the lowest percentage of their income in state and local taxes already. Everyone should pay their fair share. 

I’m proud to have spent my life in the great state of Arizona. But you know what, great states, just like great people, keep their promises, and we are NOT keeping ours. 

The Arizona Constitution states that “… the legislature shall make such appropriations, to be met by taxation, as shall insure the proper maintenance of all state educational institutions…” 

Yet, Arizona ranks 49th in the nation in per pupil spending, and has such an extreme teacher shortage crisis that children in over 1800 classrooms have no permanent qualified teacher. At a time when teen suicides are on the rise, Arizona’s counselor to student ratio ranks at the bottom of the nation. Capital budget cuts to districts have resulted in crumbling buildings and lawsuits. 

During COVID, Governor Ducey promised school districts Education Stability Grants to cover their lost revenue, but districts across the state have only received between 71-26% of promised funds.

Arizona has cut taxes every year since 1990, resulting already in $4.4 billion less in annual state revenue, and the benefit has not yet trickled down to middle and working class families. In fact, the disparity between the wealthy and middle class has only widened. 

To truly grow our economy, we must invest in the people of Arizona.  If we don’t invest in public education, including community colleges and universities, job training, and resources so that the cost of housing and child care do not serve as barriers to getting an education or job, our economy will suffer. Attracting and developing businesses and industries requires an educated pool of workers that businesses can reply upon. 

As Director of Children’s Action Alliance David Lujan as well as former Governor Jan Brewer both wrote recently, these deep and permanent tax cuts are short sighted and could decimate our ability to live within our means.  

We need YOU to help stop these dangerous cuts.  Call the Governor’s office and the leadership of both the House and the Senate.  Tell them you want budget hearings that provide the opportunity for public input.  Ask that budget debate take place during the day, not the middle of the night as is often the case.  Share your specific concerns and priorities.

Governor Ducey: 602-542-4331
Senate President Karen Fann: 602-926-5874
House Speaker Rusty Bowers: 602-926-3128
If you are able, come to the Capitol this week to show your support for a responsible budget with investments in our public schools, as well as  infrastructure and health and care four our most vulnerable neighbors. Many groups are planning daily events this week. As always, please contact me if you have questions or concerns.  Thank you for your support! 

 

Sincerely,
Rep Judy Schwiebert
Arizona State House Representative from LD20

jSchwiebert@azleg.gov
602-926-3390 (office)
One of our local channels, AZ Family 3TV, has produced an original documentary about how the Justine Spitalny School in the Cartwright District faced the challenges of COVID with their students this year.  It’s a moving testament to the extraordinary, heartfelt work of so many teachers across the state who helped their students through this most challenging year. I highly recommend it! 

Join Me Online This Saturday, May 8, at 3 pm for the

Arizona House Democrats Budget Town Hall

It’s budget season, the time of year when your legislature completes its primary purpose.  Our state budget is really important to all of us since it will reflect our values as the people of Arizona. So, your voice is important in this process.

Please join me and my colleague, Rep Mitzi Epstein as we listen to your priorities and share the House Democrats’ budget planning at this point. Other legislators may also be available. 

I hope to see you there!  Please register here to get a link for the event.   

Sincerely,
Rep Judy Schwiebert
Arizona State House Representative from LD20

Your State Budget

The legislative session cannot end until a budget is approved. While majority legislators are working in secret to construct a budget that is expected to be released early next week, Democrats are also at work listening to our constituents and constructing a budget based on your priorities.

For several years, Arizona has been underfunding schools, healthcare, roads, prisons, environmental concerns, and other important state responsibilities. However, despite the pandemic, we have  billions of dollars in surpluses this year, providing us with an opportunity to invest in the needs of the people of Arizona including

  • Roads and infrastructure.  Every Appropriations committee meeting seemed to include bills for desperately-needed road repairs that can’t wait the 5-10 or 15 years it takes for ADOT to get to them because they don’t have adequate funding. 
  • Healthcare. We have a moral obligation to care for our most vulnerable citizens, but independent evaluations show that our state’s budget falls short by hundreds of millions of dollars annually in what’s needed to address the needs of our youngest, elderly, and disabled neighbors. 
  • K-12 classrooms. Too many of our school buildings are decaying. All of our children deserve safe and modern facilities in which to learn.
  • Teacher pay.  We were in such a deep hole, that even after recent increases Arizona teacher salaries remain in the national basement, and children in 1 in 4 classrooms have no permanent, qualified teacher.
  • Higher education. Tuition for our state universities is among the highest in the nation, largely because Arizona invests less in all three universities than we do on prisons, which are also underfunded.Item 4

Where We Are Now in the 2021 Session

Your legislature can – and does make many changes in state law each year, but its main purpose is to create a budget for Arizona. And we’re not there yet.

So first, an update on the law-making part. Thank you to everyone who has emailed me about what’s important to you and your families.

With you in mind, I’ve been proud to help work for and pass some important bills to help everyday Arizonans. Those include SB1539 to increase the stipend for grandparents and other relatives fostering family members’ children. HB2123 and HB2124 support Career and Technical Education programs. SB1451 ensures workmen’s comp for firefighters who develop cancer, and HB2282 would provide small business assistance grants. I’m also proud to have sponsored HB2824, a bi-partisan Adult Education bill that’s a win for working families, employers and our economy.

That said, this legislative session has been full of some really bad bills as well – and though we’re closing in on the end of the session, some of the worst attacks on our voting rights, public schools, reproductive rights, and state budget are still going on.

Read on to see how you can help stop them.

2 Urgent Calls to Action!

VETO SB1456!

Call Governor Ducey’s office at 602-542-4331 and ask him to VETO SB1456. Parents already have the right to opt their children in or not to age-appropriate sex education programs, and this bill outlaws the program altogether in grades K-4 where children learn about their bodies, safety and health, leaving our vulnerable children at greater risk of abuse. ALSO, the bill moves Arizona backward, treating LGBTQ+ people (including students) as “abnormal” and requiring parent permission to mention important LGBTQ+ figures or events in any class at any grade level. Everyone deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.

NO on SB1457

This extreme attack on reproductive rights already failed a floor vote, but is being revived in a conference committee. Call your legislators to urge them to vote NO on this extreme attack on women’s reproductive healthcare. It gives fetuses in all stages of development the same rights and privileges as any living US citizen, and turns doctors into felons, leaving juries to decide whether a physician on trial for performing an abortion exercised reasonable judgment.

Your Voting Rights

Like so many of you have said in your emails, I’m proud of Arizona’s long history of integrity and security in our elections. In fact, I believe that as your legislators, our highest priority should be to protect the very thing that defines us as a free nation: the sacred right of every citizen to vote in a simple, straightforward manner. Yet Arizona’s legislature has introduced at least 19 voter suppression bills this session. Here’s a link to an Op-Ed I wrote that recently appeared in AZCentral.

Call to Action! Your voice is powerful. Please call State House members to urge them to vote

  • NO on SB1485 that would purge hundreds of thousands of Arizonans from the Permanent Early Voting List
  • NO on SB1713 that would require more hoops for the 80% of Arizona voters who vote by mail if their vote is to be counted
  • NO on SCR1024 that would require citizen initiatives that increase state or local revenue to pass by a 2/3 vote.

Your Public Schools

Every day I receive your messages demanding that the legislature respect the will of the voters and properly fund our schools. I agree! As a mom, grandma and teacher for 27 years at Greenway & Cactus High Schools, I know that we all do better when every student gets a great education, and we can only provide that when we invest in our neighborhood public schools attended by 90% of our children. They are counting on us to provide the safe buildings, activities, staff and teachers who do the vital work of helping every child succeed.

Call to Action! Did I mention that your voice is powerful? If you want our state to properly invest in our public schools, please call and email State House members to urge them to vote NO on

SB1273 that would expand allowable uses of STO vouchers that last year drained $200 million from state revenue, $20 million of which didn’t help a single student

SB1452 that would greatly expand ESA vouchers that siphon hundreds of millions of dollars from our schools each year.

SB1783 that would gut $500 million from voter-approved Prop 208 funds for schools.

HB2427 is a solution in search of a problem. Arizona families can already choose any public school in the state. This bill erodes local control, creates duplicative red-tape and unfunded mandates for school districts, and requires them to advertise charter and private schools on their websites.

Stop Shifting the Tax Burden to Working Families

Your State Budget

Finally, the legislative session cannot end until a budget is approved, and everyone at the Capitol is waiting for budgets to be released by majority policymakers in the House and Senate. But here is the word….

Despite the fact that Arizona is already underfunding schools, healthcare, roads, prisons and almost every other area, the majority is now proposing over $1 BILLION dollars in PERMANENT tax cuts that would mainly benefit the rich while shifting even more of the tax burden onto working families.

That $1 billion in the governor’s rainy day fund and the at least $1.2 BILLION unexpected one-time projected budget surplus should be used for critical needs of the citizens of our state like

  • Roads and infrastructure. Every Appropriations committee meeting seemed to include bills for desperately-needed road repairs that can’t wait the 5-10 or 15 years it takes for ADOT to get to them because they don’t have adequate funding.
  • Healthcare. We have a moral obligation to care for our most vulnerable citizens, but independent evaluations show that our state’s budget falls short by hundreds of millions of dollars annually in what’s needed to address the needs of our youngest, elderly, and disabled neighbors.
  • K-12 classrooms. Too many of our school buildings are decaying. All of our children deserve safe and modern facilities in which to learn.
  • Teacher pay. We were in such a deep hole, that even after recent increases Arizona teacher salaries remain in the national basement, and children in 1 in 4 classrooms have no permanent, qualified teacher.
  • Higher education. Tuition for our state universities is among the highest in the nation, largely because Arizona invests less in all three universities than we do on prisons, which are also underfunded.

Call to Action! Your voice is powerful. Call your state Representatives, Senators, and the Governor to say NO to permanent tax cuts. Use the record budget surpluses to address the urgent needs of our state.

How will you celebrate?

April 22 is Earth Day!

This April 22, we’re all invited to celebrate the 51st Earth Day since the celebration began in 1970. This day is a reminder that together we can create the world we want to live in, one that is clean, healthy and sustainable for our children. But that starts with each one of us. Here are some event listings at EventBrite or check out some ideas from ASU here or here about how you can contribute to a healthier planet.

Whether you’re picking up trash, taking a run or bike ride, volunteering, or bird watching, you can be a part of making our community a better place.

Stop Shifting the Tax Burden to Working Families –

Lifting Ourselves Up By Our Bootstraps

The American Dream is based on the idea that here in this country people can lift themselves up by their own bootstraps. It’s what makes us the “land of the free, and home of the brave.” But there are no bootstraps when people don’t even have boots.

We all do better when everyone has the basic “footwear” of education and healthcare – that allow people to have a fighting chance at their American Dream.

Yet despite the fact that Arizona is already underfunding schools, healthcare, roads, prisons and almost every other area, the majority is now proposing over $1 BILLION dollars in tax cuts that would mainly benefit the rich while shifting even more of the tax burden onto working families.

We’re still in a pandemic. Now more than ever we should be using the unexpected surpluses in the state coffers to ensure that those who have been hit the hardest have the bootstraps that will let them do that lifting. It will help us all do better.

Call to Action

NO More Vouchers!

SB1452, the massive ESA voucher expansion bill is on this Wednesday’s 9 am agenda for the House Ways & Means Committee. While proponents say it’s about school choice, the reality is that for every one child who’s family chooses a voucher, 90 families choose their local public schools.

Voters demanded better funding for public schools with both Props 305 and 208. But SB1452 is one of several ways the majority continues to ignore the will of the people – and undercut our public schools. Please call – and email the members of the House Ways & Means committee to tell them to vote NO on SB1452! Use their newsletter to find out about more bad bills we need your help to stop this week.

Call to Action

Protect Our Voting Rights

The AZ legislature is second only to Georgia in the number of bills being introduced to restrict voting access.

Why? An attorney for Arizona’s Republican Party offered a blunt reason for voting restrictions before the Supreme Court on Tuesday: because voting restrictions help Republicans win. It comes down to a partisan advantage, not fairness or integrity.

I believe our goal should be the protection of the fundamental right to vote for ALL citizens by assuring that voting is as accessible and as well as secure as possible. Our democracy is stronger when more qualified citizens vote.

So I will be voting NO on SB1485, Sen Ugenti-Rita’s bill to purge voters from the Permanent Early Voting List. and NO on SB1713 Sen Mesnard’s bill to require a copy o f photo ID in ballot envelopes. You can find your representative here if you wish to urge them to vote NO as well.

This week the House Government Committee, chaired by Rep John Kavanaugh who favors voting restrictions, is hearing more bills that propose voting restrictions. Learn more about them in the Legislature Weekly Update at this link.

Fulfilling My Promise to You

Working Together for an Arizona Where Everyone Can Thrive

I’m happy to report that my Adult Ed bill, HB2824, has passed out of the State House and will be heard in the Senate Education Committee this Tuesday. It will eliminate the 3,000 person waitlist to get into our state’s current Adult Ed program and create a co-enrollment program at community colleges across the state so that learners can earn their GED and earn a Certified Industry Credential or AA degree at the same time.

This bipartisan bill will leverage federal dollars to give thousands of low wage workers the chance to lift themselves out of poverty, provide employers with a strong, qualified workforce, and strengthen the economy for all of us.

Call to Action

Please email or call the Senate Education Committee members and urge them to vote YES on HB2824! You can find their names here – and their contact info here.

Watch our Live Proceedings Thursday

March is Women’s History Month

Since March is Women’s History Month, it gives us an important opportunity to shine a light on the extraordinary legacy of women and girls of every race, class and ethnic background who have built, shaped and improved our state and nation.

Among those are many right in our own neighborhoods, including Rivko Knox, a first generation American whose parents immigrated from Eastern Europe and taught her the importance of speaking out on important issues and voting. Those of you who know her, know that throughout her eight decades, she has been a tireless champion for the rights of all people, and a fighter to ensure every citizen can cast their ballot freely.

It’s my privilege as a member of the AZ House of Representatives, to get to honor her with a proclamation which will be read this Thursday, March 18 at about 10:05 am. You can watch the Live Proceedings to see Rivko so honored at this link.

As poet Amanda Gorman so eloquently put it on Inauguration Day this year, the power to bring light to this world lies within every one of us.

That’s why I’ve introduced HB2824 to invest in Adult Education in Arizona and why I hope you’ll use your power to help me get it heard in the House Education Committee.

Currently, over 700,000 working-age Arizonans still need a high school diploma (and COVID is likely greatly expanding that number). Without an education, low wage workers are the ones being hit hardest by the pandemic – losing their jobs and with it their ability to keep a roof over their heads and food on their tables.

They need a way to lift themselves out of poverty, employers need a strong, qualified workforce, and we all benefit when more people are contributing to our economy. Education is the key.

That’s why the Arizona Dept of Education issues grants to 25 providers of Adult Education across the state, including seven community colleges which offer programs that allow adults to earn their GED and at the same time, work toward an Industry Credential and/or Associate’s degree. They also provide wrap-around services to help meet the diverse needs of adult learners. It has a 74.8% success rate and educates 13,000 students per year.

However, there’s been no increase in funding since 1997, and so there is a month’s long waiting list. Arizona is also at risk of losing federal matching funds if we don’t increase our own investment. My bill, HB2824 calls for a $5 million appropriation, which a fiscal impact statement shows will provide a huge return on our investment in the form of $38.8 million in additional revenue for the state.

This fiscally responsible, successful program would cost the state hundreds per student, while a different bill currently under consideration to allow a private vendor to open a charter school for adults would cost $6700 per student. We can spend millions to educate a few hundred students per year, or for the same amount, educate thousands in an already successful program.

 

Education Update

This week a number of bills will be heard in the State Senate that would once again drain more money from our public district and charter schools. I’ve provided a link to the Save Our Schools newsletter where you can learn more about those specific bills and what you can do. You’ll find it at the end of this article.

Meanwhile, here’s my position on ESA’s/Vouchers:
Our state has a constitutional as well as moral obligation to provide every child with a quality public education. It’s also in our own best interest. So, I supported the original intent of ESA’s to provide for children with extraordinary needs for which public schools are not adequately funded.

However, I strongly OPPOSE the EXPANSION of ESA’s/Vouchers. That’s because some legislators have hijacked ESA/vouchers for their own agenda: to undercut our public schools and privatize education.

Despite those efforts, the families of almost 90% of Arizona’s children still choose public schools for many reasons. They provide a vital center for our communities, important electives and extracurricular activities that build well-rounded people, and a great education from well-qualified, caring teachers.

Because our legislature has diverted so many millions of our tax dollars to private schools, we now face a severe teacher shortage, crumbling buildings, and inadequate resources.

That’s why voters passed Prop 208 – to better fund our schools and incentivize teachers to stay in Arizona. But as fast as Arizonans’ vote to put money into the bucket for public schools, legislators continue to drill holes in the bottom, draining as many of our tax dollars as they can to private schools. They’re doing it again this coming week.

I will oppose bills that would expand ESA vouchers, and I hope you will, too. We must invest in public schools so that we we can ensure that every student gets the quality education they deserve. Check out the Save Our Schools Weekly Education Report to learn about this week’s bills and how you can make a difference by contacting your legislators.

 

Arizonans are struggling. So, many people were rightfully alarmed last week to hear Gov Ducey advocate for a $1.2 BILLION PERMANENT TAX CUT in our budget.

That kind of cut, during a pandemic, no less, would hamstring our state for years to come.

Every business person knows that when you want to grow a company, you invest in it. So, like any business – or family, for that matter, our state needs revenue to be sustainable. By permanently cutting taxes, we’re hobbling ourselves from being able to provide the services that citizens expect – and deserve.

If we want to grow Arizona we’re going to have to have revenue for the goods and services we provide that make Arizona a better place for all of us.

Local businesses need help right now to stay afloat until more folks feel safe enough to go out and our economy stabilizes.

Hard-working people who have lost their jobs need a more effective unemployment insurance program that will help them keep food on the table and a roof over their heads. The maximum unemployment check is an inadequate $240 per week, and the current system penalizes people for taking even a low-paying job.

Too many people are facing eviction, and at the very least it’s a public health necessity to help keep them at home, so we must provide funding for rent and mortgages, extend the eviction moratorium for renters, and streamline the application process.

Parents, students, and teachers need to be able to return to schools that are safe and supplied with reliable resources we can count on to prepare the educated workforce we need to drive a strong economy.

These and other challenges deserve our attention and investment. At a time when the rich keep getting richer, and the working people and struggling families keep losing ground, we must make smart investments in our people to make sure we can all get through this crisis and thrive.

Call or email the Governor’s office to tell him Arizona doesn’t need more tax cuts. Like any business or family, we need to invest in our state’s people so that all of us can grow and thrive. ‭(602) 542-4331 or Engage@az.gov.

As David Lujan of the Arizona Center for Economic Progress points out, “The AZ legislature has cut taxes every year but two since 1990, and the impact is clear: a steady decline in state revenue since ’90 and a steady decline in state investments for things like public education, universities, child care and housing supports. Arizona doesn’t need more tax cuts.”