Budget stability & jobs dominate session

May 23, 2012 by  

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 

  • Business Personal Property tax exemption raised from $68,000 to $125,000, also allowing voters to raise it to $2.4 on November ballot
  • 25% reduction of personal income based capital gains taxes phase-in
  • Infrastructure improvement incentives
  • 100% Sales factor phase-in for multi-state service providers, reducing corporate tax liability
  • Property tax simplification.  Ballot measure, if passed, will simplify & cap Arizona’s primary property tax increases
  • Tort reform.  Punitive damages exemption for a manufacturer that maintains compliance with all state and federal laws from a cause of action.  See AZ Chamber’s view

Education

  • School Choice expanded – 200,000 additional families are now eligible to use Arizona Empowerment Scholarships to attend the school of their parents’ choice including students in failing schools, active military & pupils with disabilities.  Increased school tuition tax credits to $1,000 from $500 per individual donation helps new and continuing students afford the school that best suits their needs.
  • Stabilized K-12 funding for students – Despite the worst economy since the Depression, kept funding above $8,700 per student per year
  • Stopped social promotion & funded it –  3rd graders not proficient in reading must be retained; Committed $40 million to the K-3 Move-On-When-Reading initiative
  • Expanded pool of “Experienced Teachers” – Created a specialized teaching certificate for prospective teachers with expertise in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering or mathematics)  – especially valuable to rural schools
  • Teacher/principal accountability – Enabled a reliable, research-based teacher and principal evaluation model
  • Reduced regulatory requirements  for highly performing school districts
  • “If you’re not keeping score, you’re just practicing” (Vince Lombardi) – Committed $6.2 to new data system to measure & compare individual student achievement throughout the state
  • Protected University and College professors’ liberties –  Educators cannot be denied tenure because of their political or religious beliefs
  • Reformed teacher tenure – Allowing school districts to let bad apples go
  • Rewarding student achievement – not seat time –  The innovative Grand Canyon Diploma enables districts and charter schools to challenge and reward high-achieving students
  • A – F school labels – Rather than confusing verbiage, A-F labels allow parents to easily evaluate their child’s school

Government Reform

  • Personnel Reforms bring public sector in line with accountable private sector hiring & firing practices & consolidates eight personnel systems into one
  • Consolidated elections will end invitation-only, special interest-dominated elections
  • CPS.  Key recommendations from 2011 Child Safety Task Force passed into law plus $3.4 million additional funding

Health Care

  • Medical Marijuana accountability.  Ensuring the drug is used for medical rather than recreational purposes,  HB 2035 enables health boards to discipline health care professionals who mis-prescribe the drug inappropriately;  allows AZ Health Dept. the authority to report physicians for disciplinary action. HB 2349 prohibits cardholders from possessing/using the drug in educational and day care settings.
  • Religious Liberty.  Employers will not be forced to leave their faith at the door of their workplace by providing coverage for contraceptive, abortifacient, abortion or sterilization prescriptions if it violates their religious beliefs.  View Gov. Brewer’s comments.
  • “Wrongful life”. This medical tort reform protects medical professionals from predatory lawsuits, ensures that physicians – who have followed appropriate standards of care – won’t be held liable for the life of a child born with a disability when parents claim they would have aborted the child had they known of the disability.  Read a fact sheet on the issue.
  • Medical Board Tort Reform.  Evidentiary standard for disciplinary actions taken by the Med. Bd. raised from a “preponderance of the evidence” to a “clear and convincing” standard of proof.
  • School Presentations.  Prevents abortion providers from promoting abortion in public schools.  Read more here.
  • Womens Health and Safety Act. Strengthens protections for pre-born life and enhances informed consent & medical practices for women seeking abortion.  For all 13 pro-life/family bills passed this session see http://www.azpolicy.org/

Read Sen. Barto’s end-of-session “My Turn” from the May 23rd edition of the AZ Republic.  View here.  For more on Sen. Barto’s 2012 patient-centered health reforms, view the Legislation page here. 

 

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