Fixing School Funding

September 29, 2014

It is common knowledge that Arizona’s complicated K-12 funding system is in need of reforms that would serve students better.  Three bills last session were proposed to move us forward. 

First the good news –  the one that was signed into law: SB 1182 (school district overrides; bonds; information) addresses the problem of school districts inserting advocacy within the purpose statement in an election pamphlet. The bill requires the purpose statement to present factual information in a neutral manner. Advocacy for expenditures would be limited to where they belong–in the arguments section of the pamphlet and must include an estimated amount of property tax increase for specified properties in addition to other important info.

Unfortunately – for both taxpayers and schools, two other important bills didn’t pass in the 2014 session – [Read more]

July Update

July 30, 2014

Laws mean what they say – even Obamacare:  Last week’s D.C. Circuit Court ruled the administration cannot change the law to fit the circumstances, meaning the insurance subsidies folks are getting in 36 states, including Arizona, are illegal.  From here the question is almost certain to go to the Supreme Court.

  • Sen. Barto featured in Sunday Republic’s “What if” question of the week. Check out What if: The Supreme Court rules subsides can’t be used and other Obamacare news and what it means to the future of the law.
  • Was it or wasn’t it a tax hike?  Robert Robb says it is fair to call the Obamacare Medicaid Expansion a tax increase, which is one of the main reasons Legislators who voted against it hope to prevail in court.  The tax passed with only a majority of legislators voting aye, rather than the required 2/3 required by voters in order to increase taxes.  Arizona should expand the Medicaid program on our own terms and within Arizona’s budget constraints – not the Federal Government’s.
  • Is reporting rape worth the “hassle”?   Legislators joined the Arizona Life Coalition Thursday outside a Tempe Planned Parenthood to demand an investigation of a mandatory reporter that didn’t think so – and a rapist went on to commit other crimes.   See clips of the rally and other photos and Channel 3 coverage.
  • On the Border Crisis & Arizona.  Apparently Arizona licensed foster parents are being recruited to care for the unaccompanied minors illegally immigrating through the Rio Grande Valley over the next 12 months.  Unlicensed families are being recruited and offered an expedited licensure & training process, as well.  Lots of questions remain unanswered, like “whether this will affect the pool of available foster homes for Arizona’s children awaiting loving homes in our child welfare system?” and “why isn’t an expedited licensure process available for qualified homes for Arizona’s kids – is our crisis over?” and “are these families being paid hundreds of dollars more/child to care for these children than for those in DCS?”  So far – no answers.
  • Senate defeats Democrats’ bill to “overturn” Supreme Court decision protecting Hobby Lobby – thankfully, even the Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate couldn’t pass such an anti-religious freedom measure!

2014 Session Synopsis

June 3, 2014

First – Where did the money go?

The State budget has General Fund spending $482 million above FY 14, for a total of $9.83 billion. The Republican Legislature continues to prioritize education and safety of Arizona’s children, with a full 75% of the new money going to three areas:  K-12, higher education, and the new Dept. of Child Safety.

  • K-12 – Total K-12 spending increased by $187.6 million
  • Child Safety – DCS spending increased by $120 million for a total of $845 million for DCS in ’15

SB 1224 (child safety positions) Appropriated $6,859,300, funding 192 full-time employees early in the session to CPS in this fiscal year – FY 2014, not counting an add’l 112 investigators, caseworkers and support staff in Special Session for the new Dept. of Child Safety (DCS).

  • Higher Education – Total University spending increased by $45.0 million

[Read more]

Barto tops ranking in bills signed into law

June 2, 2014

Of my 23 Prime Sponsored bills, 15 were signed into law this session.  All passed with overwhelming bi-partisan support, if not unanimously.

At 65%, that is the highest % of bills passed by a lawmaker this session.  Here’s the Arizona Capitol Times piece: Barto, Lovas lead in percentage of bills signed into law.

I am proud of these successes because each of them address concerns that are important to our state – and don’t increase the scope of government.   In fact, in many cases, they reduced regulation, solved a critical issue, expanded consumer information or choice or kept an “out-of-control” board government agency in check.  Here are some examples: [Read more]

Dept. of Child Safety – the new CPS

May 30, 2014

The Department of Child Safety is officially separate from the huge DES bureaucracy it had been part of.  That is progress.

The bill is a product of months of work among a diverse group, of which I am honored to have had a part, to create what we all hope will be a new and positive beginning for helping safeguard abused children in the state.

Here are the bill’s main provisions:  [Read more]

2014 Session – Opening Week

February 2, 2014

The first week of the 2014 session was action-packed, but before we get there – today we commemorate the legacy of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.  How much do you know about his “I have a dream” speech? Check out other important African-Americans in our nation’s history: Neglected Voices. Now for the highlights of Opening Day and the week’s issues:

Opening Day

  • Starting the session right – with prayer. The Center for Arizona Policy again organized their (early morning) annual prayer event at the Capitol.  I am grateful to everyone of you and the many pastors, including mine, who attended and who regularly pray for me and all elected officials in Arizona.
  • Special Guests.  Along with my husband, Joe, Troop 616 scout, Alex Murr, and his mom, Heather, were my special guests for Opening Day ceremonies.  It was an honor to host this bright aspiring space explorer.
  • Inspiring Keynote.  Cardinals kicker Jay Feely “kicked off” the 2014 Senate session with an inspiring message on staying focused amidst failure.  Here’s a shot of my husband, Joe, with Feely and Cards owner Michael Bidwell. [Read more]

Arizonans deserve an apology

July 26, 2013

Every session has its disappointments  –  but Arizonans should be more than disappointed that these major boo-boos were imposed upon them this session.  They deserve an apology – and to have these top 5 mistakes rectified. [Read more]

Expanding Liberty, Protecting Taxpayers

July 9, 2013

Highlights from the 2013 Session

How was your money spent?:   With the exception of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion pushed through this past session,  the Republican Majority has made tremendous strides in the past three years in balancing the books of the State of Arizona. We are already seeing signs that Arizona is one of a small number of states poised to come out of the lingering recession with solid growth and strong balance sheets.  Budgeting is now required to be done not just for the current fiscal year but three years out.  By FY 2016, we can now predict that Arizona will have a structurally balanced budget.  Leadership in the legislature managed to maintain spending levels, but increase funding in a few key areas. [Read more]

February Capitol update

February 18, 2013

What’s happening at the Capitol?  One thing is sure – since it is the final week for committees to hear Senate bills in the Senate, it will be a busy week for committees!

  • The call for Medicaid expansion.  Read Arizona should refuse Obamacare Medicaid bribe.
  • HOA bill:  SB 1278 unanimously passed Senate Public Safety Committee. Rather than falling short of success again, this bill clarifies authority over parking on public streets for new HOAs only – which Legislators seem to be good with.  Progress!!
  • Foster care:  My bill aimed at improving counseling treatment for children in foster care, SB 1375, passed the Sen. Health & Human Services Committee on Wednesday 4-3.
  • Board of Behavioral Health Examiners:  SB 1374 -the bill significantly reforming this incredibly dysfunctional board, passed its first committee hurdle 7-0!  Many thanks to all who attended this long hearing and sent e-mails in support of both SB 1374 & 1375.   video testimony available here for both bills. [Read more]

Budget stability & jobs dominate session

May 23, 2012

The 2012 session places Arizona on strong economic footing

  • For the second year in a row the Legislature achieved a balanced budget, w/o gimmicks, sweeps & rollovers AND without additional cuts.
  • Multi-year budgeting.  Charting a new course of responsible fiscal management for the state, the 50th Legislature balanced budgets for Fiscal Years 2012, 2013 and 2014, even with the temporary one percent sales tax increase expiring.
  • Saved $450 million in a rainy day fund for contingencies to prevent future cuts in an uncertain and slow economic recovery.
  • Stability reaps results. 93,000 new jobs created in February, March and April

Economic/Jobs Initiatives  [Read more]

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