Education: UPK AZ

Properly funding K-12 is just the first step in building a robust educational system in Arizona that works for everyone. We need universal pre-k for all four-year-olds. And we can do it without raising taxes.

Arizona currently spends over $600 million a year on tax credits for private and public schools that help very few children. And the schools can’t reliably count on these funds, or use them for their most pressing needs. Private schools can and should fundraise for scholarships -- just as they do in other states and like they used to do here. And as public schools get more state funds in their base-funding, the need for additional tax credit dollars gets smaller and smaller.

These dollars would be better spent providing UPK AZ --- universal preschool for all four year olds. The strongest argument for this program would be that it would save our state money in the long run: UPK has repeatedly been shown to reduce costly special education placements, grade retention, and even incarceration in the long-run. A house is only as strong as its foundation. Let’s start kids off with a strong foundation so that they don’t get lost in the system down the line.

CHARTER SCHOOL ACCOUNTABILITY

There is a role for charters to play in terms of providing additional options for children and families – but they need much more accountability and transparency. Good strong charters should welcome more transparency – if you are doing the right thing, it doesn’t matter who knows it. Since charters are funded with our tax dollars they should be held to the same procurement standards as our public schools.

COLLEGE AND COMMUNITY SERVICE: ARIZONA CORPS

We need to do more to make college affordable for more students.  The Arizona Corps concept is one powerful way to do so, without increasing taxes.  

The Arizona Corps program would match dollar for dollar the federally-funded Education Award (essentially, a scholarship) given to AmeriCorps members who serve in the State of Arizona.  The federal award is now $5,920.

So by just taking the $7 million we currently spend on the hyperpartisan Koch Brother Freedom Schools at ASU and U of A,  over 1300 AmeriCorps members could receive almost $12,000 in educational support to attend one of our community college or four year universities.  This would be enough to completely cover the costs of a two-year associate's degree program at our community colleges.  

We need to invest in programs that generate positive returns for the state in the long run and stop wasting our limited resources on politicians’ pet projects that affect very few Arizonans.

Jobs

As an entrepreneur, I want Arizona to be the best state in the nation to start, maintain and grow a business. I know companies are only as good as the talent they can hire.  Great companies need great employees to be able to succeed.

For that reason, we need to make our entire educational system world-class to produce skilled and talented workers who will help companies thrive. Fully-funding our K12 system, launching UPK AZ, and Arizona Corps, we will at least begin to have the foundational pieces in place for  a prek-16 system that is can produce the knowledge workers we need to power the next great wave of Arizona companies.

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The Environment

Arizona is the most beautiful state in the country. We need common sense environmental protections to ensure we pass a flourishing state to our children and grandchildren. Secondly, we need to thoughtfully address the water issues facing our state -- not as Democrats or Republicans but as Arizonans.

ENERGY: THE ARIZONA X PRIZE FOR SOLAR STORAGE

We should be pursuing policies that encourage the development and use of renewable energy sources. We have more days of sunshine than any other state. We should encourage SRP and APS to restore net metering on a dollar for dollar basis for rooftop solar. And we should launch a solar X Prize for any company that can help make a quantum leap forward in battery storage technology to allow us to retain and redeploy solar energy in the evening hours.

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HEALTHCARE: REDUCING COSTS AND EXPANDING OPTIONS

With many citizens in our state working in non-traditional jobs, we desperately need to identify cost-effective healthcare solutions. My running mate Kelli Butler has a fantastic proposal to allow adults to buy into the state’s Medicaid plan, which is a national leader in both controlling costs and ensuring quality.

We should also immediately ask CMS to provide reinsurance for our state healthcare programs --- which represents the single biggest tool we have to bring down premiums.  

These are common sense solutions that can both help reduce costs and expand options for all workers.  

TAXES: REVIEW SPECIAL DEALS EVERY YEAR

Today, 75% of the corporations in Arizona pay the $50 a year minimum tax, because they effectively have ZERO tax liability based on the credits and loopholes that are shot through our tax code.

We need to review every tax credit and loophole on an annual basis and evaluate if they have effectively helped grow our economy or not. If this answer is no, they are simply a give-away to special interests and these loopholes should be closed.

TAXING OUT OF STATE INTERNET RETAILERS

Today, out of state internet retailers do not have to charge sales tax unless they open up a distribution center or have some facility in the state (nexus).  This essentially provides a disincentive for these companies to invest in jobs for Arizonans AND gives them an unfair advantage over our brick and mortar retailers that have made investments in facilities and jobs in Arizona. By making sure all retailers charge sales tax, we can both level the playing field and generate over $300 m in additional revenue for the state.

Dirty Money

Arizona is ground zero for dirty money because of bad choices made by our legislature and signed into law by our governor. I will work with both Republicans and Democrats to reverse the sorry state of affairs. I will advocate for and support legislation that requires full disclosure from any independent expenditure group.

Polarization of Our Politics

When I was growing up in Arizona, our political leaders demonstrated the basic values of collaboration and respect by working together at the State Capitol.  When I moved back home to Arizona a few years ago, I was struck by how much the place I love had changed -- including a total breakdown in dialogue between Democrats and Republicans.

I pledge to invite every member of the House Republican Caucus to a one on one meal during my first 90 days in office. Getting to know each other as people is a critical first start to find areas of common ground.

Infrastructure and Trade

Investing in our infrastructure -- including building the proposed I-11 corridor between Mexico and Las Vegas -- is a great example of an investment that the state can make right now and will quickly begin yielding real benefits in revenue.  We can do so if we stop raiding the highway user revenue fund (hurf) and instead spend our road funds on roads.

 

Our location along the border with Mexico provides us with a natural advantage, yet we lag far behind other border states in cross-border trade. Arizona should do all it can to help ensure the successful development of a deep -water port in Puerto Peñasco, or Rocky Point, which would immediately create a much higher demand for goods and services from Arizona. Investing in our infrastructure can help Arizona gain ground in this critical area.