Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Changing of the Guard

Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano has done little to protect the state from illegal immigration, and under her leadership Arizona is now tied for last place in the nation for emergency disaster preparedness.

So why has incoming president Barack Obama picked Napolitano for secretary of homeland security? It clearly has nothing to do with her record. She is leaving Arizona with the highest budget deficit ever, and the highest budget deficit per capita in the nation after California, at more than $2 billion.

Obama probably selected Napolitano because she is one of a small handful of Democrats who fit the necessary stereotype of "tough," and she satisfies a female diversity quota. Napolitano looks and sounds tough, but her policies suggest otherwise. Democrats find this kind of person appropriate for a law enforcement leadership position, much the way Janet Reno was tapped by former president Bill Clinton to fill the attorney general position. In fact, many initially thought Napolitano would be selected by Obama for that same office.

Read the rest of the article at The American Spectator

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

AFP: Arizona must batten down the spending hatches, cut taxes

Dear Arizona Taxpayer,

Be sure to click on the link below and read AFP Arizona’s latest op-ed, which was published in today’s Arizona Daily Star.

Contrary to the title the editors gave the piece, we did not suggest cutting tax rates as a means of dealing with the Fiscal Year 2009 or FY 2010 budget deficits. Although it is possible that rate reductions on certain taxes, such as the state’s corporate income tax, could result in increased revenue in the short run, most rate reductions would be unlikely to help much in closing the current budget deficits. For FY 2011 and beyond, however, the Legislature and Governor should implement large, pro-growth rate reductions on all taxes, and if possible, abolish the state’s income taxes. The best thing we could do for the future of the Arizona economy would be to establish our state as the number one tax shelter in the nation, and to become a magnet for entrepreneurs, business relocations, and human capital.

One tax policy that will help to close the state’s budget deficit is the expansion of the state’s existing personal and corporate income tax credits for private school tuition. When children leave government district schools and go to private schools, they save the state money, greatly improve their chances of getting good educations, and prod government district schools into improving their performance. AFP Arizona urges the Legislature and Governor to make it easier to contribute to the existing personal and corporate tax credits, and to enact a personal use credit for parents who pay for their own children’s education.

Tom Jenney
Arizona Director
Americans for Prosperity
(602) 478-0146

Arizona must batten down the spending hatches, cut taxes
By Tom Jenney
Arizona Daily Star
Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Arizona government has collided with a fiscal iceberg, and Captain Gov. Janet Napolitano is sailing away to Washington in her own personal lifeboat, the S.S. Obama.

Arizona taxpayers, state legislators and incoming governor Jan Brewer are stuck on board, using bailing buckets to keep the ship from sinking further into the deep waters of unconstitutional debt, deceptive accounting and growth-killing tax increases.

Of course, Captain Napolitano did more than anyone else to steer the state into the dangerous straits of fiscal irresponsibility.

Thanks to her strong bargaining position in budget negotiations, the absence of fiscally conservative majorities in either chamber of the state Legislature, and frequent cheerleading in the state's editorial pages for increased social spending, Napolitano was able to ratchet up state spending to unsustainable levels.

From 2003 to 2007, state spending increased by 59 percent, at a time when the state economy grew only 42 percent (a figure inflated by the housing bubble). The result of rapid spending increases has been a significant increase in the size of government as a portion of the economy.

According to Napolitano's own budget office, state government in 2007 spent more than 7 percent of state personal income — the highest level of spending since 1980. The inevitable result of that over-spending was massive budget deficits during the next economic downturn.

Of course, now that the state government is short of money, some of the usual suspects are coming around, arguing for tax increases. Some economists believe that tax cuts are to blame for Arizona's current budget deficits.

But taxes and spending are different sides of the same deficit coin. If spending increases remain modest, the government can balance its budgets, even with slower revenue growth. But as we have seen, spending increases were anything but modest.

In 2006, two out of every three dollars of the state's billion-dollar projected budget surplus went to new spending, while one dollar went to income- and property-tax cuts.

Next year's general fund spending commitments will be at least $2.5 billion more than available revenues.

The higher revenues the state might have had without the 2006 income and property tax cuts would have covered less than one-fifth of the gap. And that assumes (unrealistically) that the extra revenue in 2006 and 2007 would not have pushed spending levels even higher.

If Arizona government had been subject to the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) since 2003, with spending growth limited to the rate of growth of population plus inflation, there would be no budget deficit crisis. Under a more permissive limit, in which spending growth had been limited to the rate of growth of the Arizona economy, the current deficit would be one quarter of its projected size.

If Arizona government is to stay afloat fiscally, it needs a firm spending limit, not higher taxes.

Contact Tom Jenney through

Critical week for Center for Arizona Policy

In this issue:

1) Critical Week for CAP - We Need Your Help Today!
2) Donate Today!

1) Critical Week for CAP - We Need Your Help Today!

The week between Christmas and New Year is always a critical week for us - watching, praying, and waiting to see whether we will end the year adequately funded with the resources needed to meet the tasks ahead. We're thankful for a year full of God's guidance and faithfulness. We're eagerly awaiting a New Year filled with new challenges and opportunities as we seek to protect, defend, and preserve our families.

As of this morning, we still need $200,000 to meet our 2008 budget goal. We need your help to close this gap. Throughout CAP's history, a significant part of our annual budget is raised the final week of the year. Meeting this budget goal will enable us to effectively begin implementing our strategic plans for 2009. Otherwise, I will have to put some plans on hold.

I take our stewardship responsibility very seriously. Like you, we're all concerned about the economic challenges facing so very many families. Already in 2008, I've restructured our staff and programs to cut our budget significantly. I placed a freeze on staff salaries and new expenditures. The restructuring effort will continue in 2009 as I will not add new team members to fill the positions left open by the resignations of Peter Gentala and Jennifer Clark. You have my commitment that I will lead CAP with a continued, strong commitment to serve Arizona families through wise stewardship of the resources we're given. But we cannot fulfill our mission without financial resources.

On January 12, a new legislative session begins with solid pro-life majorities in the Arizona House and Arizona Senate. By the end of January, Secretary of State Jan Brewer will become our new governor with the anticipated resignation of Governor Napolitano. A new governor and new legislature mean significant new opportunities for Arizona families to pass good legislation. CAP is ready, willing, and able to lead the charge!

But we cannot lead without your prayers and, yes, your financial support. Join us in prayer that God will provide us the needed $200,000 to enter 2009 having met our budget goal. If you have already given - thank you!

2) Donate Today!

If you haven't yet had a chance to make a year-end donation or if you can make another donation, there's still time to make a donation that can count as a 2008 tax-deductible gift:

Make a gift online using our secure online form at by 11:00 PM, Wednesday, December 31.
Call our office at (602) 424-2525 by 5:00 PM Wednesday to give a gift over the phone. Or call us to find out how to drop off a gift or have us pick up a gift.
Mail a gift to CAP, 7227 N. 16th Street, Suite 250, Phoenix, AZ 85020. To count as a tax-deductible gift for 2008, it must be postmarked by December 31.

Monday, December 29, 2008

CAP's Top 8 of '08!

1- Marriage Amendment Passes. The people spoke! Arizonans amended our state constitution with 20 simple words: "Only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state." Arizonans from all ethnic, political, and religious backgrounds united to stand for marriage. Equally significant, 49 members of the Arizona House and Senate voted to let the people decide by placing the marriage amendment on the ballot in the most intense legislative battle in CAP's history.

2 - Pastors and Church Leaders Take the Lead. Church leaders from a broad, diverse group of religious persuasions spoke out strongly on behalf of the marriage amendment.

3 - Truth Project Spread Across Arizona. The year began with over 1,000 attending Truth Project training sponsored by Focus on the Family and CAP. By summer, Focus designated CAP the state Truth Project Trainer, enabling us to lead training sessions for churches and communities.

4 - "Choose Life" License Plates Win Court Battle. After a six year legal battle that reached the U.S. Supreme Court, pro-lifers won, and the "Choose Life" license plate will soon be available in our state.

5 - Commitment to Prayer Expanded. CAP organized a series of four prayer assemblies at the Capitol - highlighted by a November 2nd solemn assembly, jointly sponsored by several allied organizations, with over 1,000 participants in Phoenix, Tucson, and Flagstaff. CAP weekly prayer bulletins reached hundreds weekly. CAP intercessors met at the Capitol and at CAP throughout the year to undergird our mission in prayer.

6 - CAP-Supported Legislation Signed into Law. Two CAP-supported bills were signed into law: Jesse's Law and Internet Age Misrepresentation. Jesse's Law helps protect patients from having food and fluid removed when they are unable to communicate their wishes. The Internet Age Misrepresentation law protects our youth from online predators.

7 - CAP-Supported Legislation Vetoed by Governor. Governor Napolitano etched her legacy as one of the most radical, pro-abortion governors our country has ever seen. Napolitano vetoed three more abortion-related bills (Partial-Birth Abortion Ban, Guidelines for Court Orders in Minor's Abortion, and Revised Partial-Birth Abortion Ban), continuing to prevent even the most broadly supported restrictions on abortion.

8 - Election Impact. For the primary and general elections, CAP distributed over 100,000 nonpartisan voter's guides and well over 100,000 related fliers. Our new and improved interactive voter's guide website ( had over 50,000 visitors! Informed voters increased the pro-life, pro-family majority in both the Arizona House and Senate.

Financial Update

Year-end also means we're praying, watching, and waiting to see whether or not CAP will be adequately funded as we head into 2009! To make a donation, call our office at (602) 424-2525 or donate online at

Majority of Border Patrol agents now Hispanic

So much for the left claiming that Hispanics are against enforcement of our illegal immigration laws. 52% of Border Patrol agents now are Hispanic. This also disproves the accusation that those who want our laws against illegal immigration enforced are racist.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas from IC!

The IC mascot

More articles on the Stapley indictment/Board of Supervisors' power grab

There's a fair article at KNXV covering the scandal. Josh Bernstein reports that former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley, who endorsed Thomas's Democrat opponent for County Attorney last year, is being paid $250/hr to take over and manage County civil litigation instead of Thomas. This scandal has gotten national attention, too, from Judicial Watch in its Corruption Chronicles.

More news on the County Supervisors taking away Thomas's legal representation

Sonoran Alliance and Politico Mafioso both have angles on the controversy.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Board of Supervisors removes Thomas from County Litigation

The East Valley Tribune and Liberty's Apothecary are covering the story of the Board of Supervisors removing County Attorney Thomas from representing the County in civil litigation, and putting his predecessor Rick Romley in charge instead. The power grab was coincidentally done immediately after Thomas and Sheriff Arpaio indicted County Supervisor Don Stapley.

Tom Patterson: Erase Napolitano's legacy

Tom Patterson, chairman of the Goldwater Institute, had a great article in the East Valley Tribune on Governor Napolitano's real legacy yesterday. Some excerpts:

Most of the precedents [Napolitano] established need to be reversed as soon as possible...Napolitano’s reaction to both lean and fat budget years (she experienced both) was basically the same: spend, spend and spend some more. The result, when the explosive growth in baseline budgets met today’s inevitable decline in revenues, is Arizona’s huge budget deficit which is highest in the nation (per capita)...Napolitano also earned the dubious distinction of being the first Arizona governor to introduce debt to balance general fund budgets.

The low point was in 2005, when the governor, after the Legislature adjourned, vetoed items she had agreed to accept in earlier negotiations.

Napolitano was so hugely popular with the major media that she was largely excused for such antics as intimidating (through an aide) a state commission into illegally changing “Squaw Peak” to “Piestewa Peak.”

She was allowed to hijack money meant for other projects to fund her pet project, the Western States Climate Initiative. She got by with claiming credit for the positive effects of tax cuts she had fought against.

Read the full article

Goldwater Institute: Separation of powers meant to guarantee liberty not bureaucracy

By Nick Dranias

Nancy Pelosi and other U.S. House leaders recently filed an amicus brief urging the dismissal of criminal corruption charges against Arizona Congressman Rick Renzi. They argue that the FBI unconstitutionally invaded the legislative branch and violated the separation of powers by wiretapping conversations between Renzi and his constituents regarding potential legislation. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a public interest group, counters that Renzi was trading legislative favors for financial rewards, which is fair game for investigation by executive branch agencies.

The truth is that both sides have equally plausible arguments based on the U.S. Constitution's "Speech and Debate" clause and separation of powers doctrine-if the dispute is framed only as a turf battle between departments of the federal government.

To genuinely resolve constitutional questions over the Renzi investigation it will require recourse to first principles. Unfortunately, neither side adequately explains how their argument advances the primary purpose of our Republic-that of securing individual liberty. But it is not too late for the Justice Department to do so.

The Founders did not divide government into distinct legislative, executive, and judicial branches merely to dig moats around bureaucratic fiefdoms. They meant to secure liberty by diffusing power and counterbalancing opposing political ambitions. In hard cases such as this, attempting to assess the proper scope of legislative autonomy from executive branch investigations without explicitly considering the goal of preserving individual liberty drops the context of the Constitution. Interpreting constitutional provisions out of context is not much better than ignoring them altogether.

Fortunately, at last report, the Justice Department had not yet responded to the dueling amici briefs. The Department still has time to ground the Renzi corruption investigation in principles of individual liberty.

Nick Dranias holds the Goldwater Institute Clarence J. and Katherine P. Duncan chair for constitutional government and is the director of the Institute's Dorothy D. and Joseph A. Moller Center for Constitutional Government.

Best coffee shop joint in downtown Phoenix

The Daily Grind is by far the best coffee shop in downtown Phoenix. Located at the bottom of the Dodge-Phelps tower on Washington & Central, they're one of the only independent coffee shops left, although it doesn't feel too alternative because it's very stylish and mod inside. They have more coffee variations than any coffee shop I've ever been to - try asking for their banana bread lattes or banana/white chocolate mocha creation. The guy running the place has been in the coffee business for years and can make practically anything you ask for, the menu doesn't come close to listing everything. The prices look slightly less than Starbucks. I encourage everyone to stop by and support this independent coffee shop.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Goldwater Institute: Year end education wrap up

By Matthew Ladner, Ph.D.

Year end is the time to make your scholarship tax credit donation. Darcy Olsen, Clint Bolick, and I serve on the board of the Arizona School Choice Trust, which allows the widest possible choice of schools and focuses aid exclusively on low-income children. Many other quality options are available however, so give if you can!

Speaking of tax credits, the Arizona School Board Association is calling for the suspension of the scholarship tax credits as a way for the state to save money. Getting children into private schools with $2,000 of foregone revenue, however, is cheaper than the $8,000 plus spent to keep a child in the public school system. So, if the legislature wants to save money, they should expand the private school scholarship tax credit. Suspending it will increase costs to the state as children return to public schools, and their education will be disrupted to boot.

And speaking of the School Board Association, I had the opportunity to debate Andrew Morrill, Vice President of the Arizona Education Association, on teacher certification at the ASBA legislative conference last week. I was pleasantly surprised by Morrill's openness to evidence regarding the inability of teacher certification to predict student gains.

Shortly thereafter the Arizona Republic quoted Mr. Morrill on special needs voucher program that is now in the hands of the Arizona Supreme Court. Morrill opined that the program lacked "transparency" and "accountability."

Thanks to NAEP, also known as the Nation's Report Card, you can't say that about public schools. The percentage of Arizona students with disabilities scoring "Below Basic" on both fourth and eighth grade reading is more than 13 percent higher than the already abysmal national average. Where is the accountability in this? And how will taking away the ability of children to transfer to better schools enhance it?

My hope for next year is that Arizona lawmakers will focus on reforms with a proven track record for improving performance across the board.

Dr. Matthew Ladner is vice president of research at the Goldwater Institute.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Article & comments on State Bar adding sexual orientation to attorney's oath

Interview with the State Bar president and Tim Casey, who wrote the letter to the Bar objecting to the addition. So far the article has 70 comments posted in response.

Goldwater Institute: Corporation Commission piles on renewable energy surcharges

by Clint Bolick

Putting the proverbial coal in the Christmas stocking of millions of Arizonans, the state's Corporation Commission this week imposed new surcharges on utility consumers to fund compliance with its sweeping renewable energy regulations.

The Commission more than doubled the surcharge it imposed earlier this year. For businesses already reeling from a struggling economy, the surcharges add as much as $353.78 to monthly utility bills. Residential utility customers will see their bills increase again as well.

Perversely, the Commission granted APS even more than it requested by refusing to roll over $8 million in renewable energy funds the utility company did not use in 2008. APS wanted to roll these funds into next year so they could lower the surcharges at a later date if they were collecting enough. The Commission refused this request.

The Goldwater Institute has filed a Maricopa County Superior Court lawsuit, Miller v. Arizona Corporation Commission, challenging the rules as an unconstitutional power grab of the state's energy policy from the legislature. The rules require specific percentages of energy generated from renewable sources with no regard for cost or reliability. The Commission estimates its rules ultimately will add $2.4 billion to utility bills.

The surcharges were adopted by a 3-2 vote, with Commissioners Kris Mayes, Jeff Hatch-Miller, and Bill Mundell in favor, and Mike Gleason and Gary Pierce opposed. The underlying rules were adopted by an entirely Republican Commission. This year, two Democrats were elected who pledged to expand even more the Commission's regulatory influence. Every day, the stakes for the Institute's lawsuit grow.

Clint Bolick is the director of the Goldwater Institute Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation.

Goldwater Institute Offers Plan to Balance State Budget

$1 billion plan eliminates subsidized massages, leaves essential programs funded

Phoenix--When lawmakers go back to work in January, their priority will be to close the state's billion-dollar budget deficit. With expenses far exceeding revenues, government will have to reign in spending or increase taxes to comply with the state's balanced budget requirement. Raising taxes in a down economy will make it even harder for Arizona families to make ends meet, so tax increases should be off the table.

Deciding where to trim will be a daunting task, but the Goldwater Institute is making it easier with a new report called "A Fresh Start for Arizona: Proposals for Closing a Billion-Dollar Budget Gap."

"How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Solving the budget crisis will take reductions in many areas and will require each agency to do their part," said Dr. Schlomach, the Institute's director of economic policy. "This is not a prescriptive list, but a starting point for fresh thinking."

Over the past five years, state government has grown 30 percent in real terms, taking Arizona from one of the lowest-spending states in the country to being on par with notorious big spenders like Connecticut. In fact, if spending had just kept up current services, the deficit would be less than $100 million, an amount that could easily be covered by the rainy day fund. Cutting spending now by $1 billion will still leave more money in real terms in the hands of state agencies than they had five years ago.

Several years ago, Texas closed a $10 billion biennial revenue gap without a tax increase. Today, that state has a $12 billion surplus. Other states, such as Georgia, are also closing current gaps without tax increases.

The 90 recommendations range in savings from $24,000 to over $200 million. They include eliminating the state Employee Wellness Program--which provides workplace massages to state employees--and the Arizona Commission on the Arts, an agency whose existence is difficult to justify when there are millions of private sources for funding art. The recommendations also include rolling back the just-implemented full day kindergarten program.

Read the budget-balancing recommendations in "A Fresh Start for Arizona" here.

The Goldwater Institute is a nonprofit public policy research and litigation organization whose work is made possible by the generosity of its supporters.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Goldwater Institute: Government jobs programs never fair to all

by Carrie L. Lukas

President-Elect Obama wants to make good on his promise to create 2.5 million jobs by investing heavily in infrastructure, including retooling public buildings to make them more "green." Unsurprisingly, those in the construction industry cheered this news: after all, they stand to gain directly from this government largesse.

But not everyone is applauding the plan. In an op-ed in the New York Times, feminist author Linda Hirshman notes that the jobs created by the Obama plan are in sectors dominated by men. Women, who account for nearly half of the labor force, hold only 9 percent of jobs in construction and 12 percent in engineering, which will be the big beneficiaries of the Obama stimulus. Hirshman offers a solution: an expanded stimulus program with a focus on building "the most important infrastructure - human capital." Women hold the overwhelming majority of positions in social work, child care, education, and libraries, and Hirshman asks that the new administration "create jobs for them, too."

Hirshman does make an important point. If the government is going to get in the business of creating jobs, then which type of jobs should it create? What supporters of these policies fail to recognize is that no government jobs program is going to end up being "fair." Some will be rewarded, and some will be left out.

Those concerned about promoting "fairness" should focus on ending government's inappropriate intrusion into so many sectors of our lives. Trying to broaden any particular package to make it more equitable to this group or that is an endless proposition. While some groups may have a temporary victory, ultimately we all lose by perpetuating this process.

Carrie Lukas is the Vice President for Policy and Economics, Independent Women's Forum and a senior fellow with the Goldwater Institute. A version of this article originally appeared in National Review Online.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

CAP: State Bar, school choice, and same-sex marriage

In this issue:

1) Thank You, Peter!
2) Watch the Arizona Supreme Court In Action!
3) State Bar Lurches Left Once Again
4) City of Phoenix to Recognize Same-Sex Relationships

1) Thank You, Peter!

This week is a bittersweet one for our team. CAP General Counsel Peter Gentala has resigned his position at CAP to pursue a new calling. Incoming Speaker of the House Rep. Kirk Adams asked Peter to serve as his new general counsel to the majority caucus.
For over four years, Peter has worn a number of hats at CAP. He's been our chief litigator and legal brief writer, keeping watch for legal cases and issues impacting our families and our religious freedom. Peter's drafted legislation and testified on bills. He's been our general counsel, making sure we're in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. For both marriage amendment campaigns, Peter served as the legal counsel, pouring his heart and wisdom into making sure marriage is defined in our state as the union of one man and one woman. Most of all, Peter has been a key team member, working alongside me and the entire CAP team to further our mission to defend and protect the timeless family values we share. I've greatly appreciated and valued his wisdom, intellect, and advice!
We'll all miss him, but we're also happy for Peter and the State of Arizona to see Peter move on to a position of influence within our state government. If you'd like to send Peter a note of thanks for his service at CAP and best wishes for this new adventure, please email him at

2) Watch the Arizona Supreme Court In Action!

Last Tuesday, the Arizona Supreme Court heard arguments in the school choice case of Cain v. Horne. The outcome hinges on whether the state constitution's prohibition of direct aid to sectarian schools precludes a parent from being given a voucher by the state to find the school most appropriate for their children's needs. As we reported to you, CAP filed anamicus brief arguing the law is constitutional. This report by Channel 8 provides an interesting glimpse into the hearing and the issues involved.

3) State Bar Lurches Left Once Again

The State Bar of Arizona has proposed a change in the oath lawyers take when being sworn in as new lawyers. The change adds "sexual orientation" to the oath, resulting in lawyers having to pledge a duty of care to clients regardless of their race, gender, or sexual orientation. I joined an esteem group of constitutional lawyers opposing this change. Read our letter and Espresso Pundit's blog post here.

4) City of Phoenix to Recognize Same-Sex Relationships

On Wednesday, the Phoenix City Council will consider a domestic partner registry ordinance. The registry would allow same-sex couples to register as domestic partners if they sign an affidavit stating they are in a committed relationship, are not married to another individual, share a residence, and are 18 years or older. Sounds like a marriage equivalent or counterfeit to me. The purported reason for the registry is to grant hospital visitation rights for domestic partners at any health care facility located in Phoenix. State law, however, already grants such rights. If this problem exists in any way, the answer is simply not to allow hospitals to restrict visitation rights. The real purpose of the registry is to grant a legal status to unmarried couples, whether same-sex or opposite- sex.
CAP opposes this ordinance. If you reside in the City of Phoenix, you can contact your council member and Mayor Phil Gordon by phone or e-mail to let them know that you oppose creating a domestic partner registry. View this map to find your City Council district.

Republic reporting that Thomas is considering running for AG

Sonoran Alliance reported it first, and now the Arizona Republic is reporting that County AttorneyAndrew Thomas is considering running for Attorney General.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Goldwater Institute: Let's get serious about childhood literacy

by Matthew Ladner, Ph.D.

The AIMS graduation requirement has become a political football. Repeatedly, the legislature delayed the implementation of the requirement, and last year, passed "AIMS augmentation" effectively gutting the requirement. An Arizona diploma should mean something. The AIMS exam, after all, is merely a minimal skills test.

The problem, however, is that year after year, somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 percent of Arizona's fourth graders score below "basic" in reading on the Nation's Report Card. Our current system, therefore, routinely socially promotes literally hundreds of thousands of childrendespite the fact that they cannot read. Year after year, these kids somehow receive acceptable marks, and advance on to the next grade.

After years of this charade, the system then presents them with a test and tells them to get on the stick, or else they can't receive a diploma. These children have been set up to fail, not to succeed.

Florida's reform makes a great deal more sense: If you can't read at an appropriate level at the end of the third grade, you repeat it with extra help. Evaluations show that this program has succeeded in improving literacy, and critically at a developmentally appropriate age. The mind is wired to learn to read in the early grades-an ounce of illiteracy prevention is worth a pound of cure.

I believe a graduation exam is desirable, if the state follows Florida's lead and gets serious about early childhood literacy.

Dr. Matthew Ladner is vice president of research at the Goldwater Institute.

State Bar of AZ to censor First Amendment rights of attorneys on gay issues

Throwing our constitutional rights of free speech and freedom of association down the drain, the State Bar of Arizona is considering a revision to the attorneys' oath of office that would silence conservative viewpoints on gay issues. The oath would be revised to add the language in red as follows:

“I will not permit considerations of gender, race, religion, age, nationality, sexual orientation, disability, or social standing to influence my duty of care.”

Several attorneys, including myself expressed their opposition in a letter to the bar. They point out that the language is so broad, it could be used to ban an attorney from publicly expressing a viewpoint on gay issues. It could also prohibit an organization of Christian attorneys like the Alliance Defense Fund or the Christian Legal Society, which holds Bible studies at law schools, from refusing to admit persons of alternative sexual preference to their organizations.

The State Bar of Arizona is a mandatory association for attorneys wishing to practice law in Arizona. As such, they have the power to revoke the license to practice law in Arizona of any attorney they believe has violated this provision. A clause like this has no place in an oath of office, which should consist of nothing more but generally swearing allegiance to the laws of the land. Adding a controversial restriction on our First Amendment rights in order to promote a politically correct left wing agenda is inappropriate and a gross abuse of power by the Bar. If they go ahead with this curtailing of our rights, there will be plenty of lawsuits, and rightly so.

Please call or email the president of the State Bar of Arizona and express your objection to this outrageous infringement upon our rights, or 602-340-7239.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Goldwater Institute: More taxes to balance the budget?

By Steve Voeller

If incoming lawmakers are going to hear from professors and pundits that the state's budget woes were caused by tax cuts and can be solved by tax hikes, then they ought to hear what actual taxpayers have to say about it as well.

The Arizona Free Enterprise Club, a pro-growth advocacy group, yesterday launched a "No New Taxes" petition in response to a growing discussion about a possible tax increase to balance the budget.

Professors at Arizona State University released a study that blames the state's $1.7 billion budget deficit on income and property tax cuts from the 1990's and 2006. The study also states that a $1 billion tax increase would be preferable to budget cuts of the same size.

Citing the ASU study, the Tucson Citizen argued that there is a case to be made for increasing taxes. And although she said it's "not something she'd like to see," soon-to-be-Governor Jan Brewer didn't rule out a tax increase.

As a percentage of the general fund, Arizona has the largest budget deficit in the country. The Free Enterprise Club has argued that the deficit was caused by state spending that far surpassed reasonable measuring sticks for budget growth.

The Arizona budget grew from $6.5 billion in 2004 to $10.6 billion in 2008, a 63 percent increase. Over that same time period, personal income growth was 37 percent and population plus inflation growth was about 30 percent.

You can't grow government faster than the ability of taxpayers to pay for it and not expect budget shortfalls.

If you'd like to add your name to the list of Arizonans who don't think we need to raise taxes in order to balance the budget, please click here.

Steve Voeller is president of the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, a non-profit organization whose mission is to advance policies that promote a strong and vibrant Arizona economy.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Americans for Prosperity conference: preparing for a lack of prosperity under Obama

The annual Americans for Prosperity conference in Phoenix, Defending the Dream, was pretty upbeat considering the country will be under Obama the next four years. Put on by Tom Jenney and Chad Kirkpatrick, it included several prominent speakers, including Steve Moore from the Wall Street Journal, author Dinesh D'Souza, and lawyer Clint Bolick. Moore spoke about the current administration, and how it's spent $5 trillion so far in bailouts. We've spent more on bailouts than we did on World War II. This is a misallocation of resources. He expressed concern that the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board is attempting to take over entire industries - an unconstitutional grab of power. Discussing tax rates, he noted that as tax rates go down, the percentage paid by the rich actually increases, contrary to liberal myths. Moore also addressed healthcare, saying there is something wrong with the system when neither you nor your doctor know the cost of a particular medical procedure you're receiving. He dismissed claims that the middle class is currently getting shafted, pointing out that the middle class has seen a 50% increase in purchasing power since 1960, with income rising from $40,000 to $60,000 (adjusted for inflation). Liberals believe the problem with the economy is that the government isnt spending enough! He explained that corporations are failing and leaving the U.S. because corporate tax rates are so high. Unlike the U.S., other countries have been cutting their corporate tax rates. Moore questioned how Obama is going to cut taxes for 90% of the population when 40% of the population doesn't pay any taxes. Unfortunately, more than half the folks he's going to raise taxes on are small businessmen and women. Moore showed the audience a 1040EZ form that was so easy there were only two lines, 1) How much money do you make, and 2) Send it all to the government.

AZ State Treasurer Dean Martin discussed Arizona's budget problems. He said that Governor Napolitano has worked out gimmicks with the budget that don't really solve the problem. For example, $602 million owed to schools is not going to be paid this fiscal year; it will be delayed until next fiscal year. Martin compared the state's current crisis with Arizona's ghost towns - they built up during the boom but didn't prepare for the bust. Martin declared that Napolitano's legacy is turning Arizona into a welfare state.

The conference ended with a panel on blogging and the New Media, which I led. Other panelists included Shane Wikfors from, Greg Patterson from, and John McJunkin from Topics included the advent of Web 2.0, with everyone moving online to social networking sites, particularly Conservatives were urged to join Twitter, which is part of the new #dontgo movement to get conservatives caught up to liberals when it comes to the New Media. For setting up blogs, blogivists was recommended.

For those of you at the conference who did not get one of my handouts, email me at and I'll send you it.

Coalition for a Conservative Majority meeting tonight

RSVP to attend the end of the year CCM Phx Chpt meeting -Monday, Dec. 8th at 7pm

Where: Amer. Italian Club (same as usual) on 12th Street, just South of Northern (East side of road)

Speaker - Chad Kirkpatrick from Americans Prosperity

Special nomination and election of new officeres for the NEW YEAR!

Coalition for a Conservative Majority will blast off in 2009 in Phoenix, AZ!

Be an active member - tell a friend - better yet, Bring a friend to this meeting!!


Goldwater Institute: Does a certificate make the teacher-or results?

By Matthew Ladner, Ph.D.

This chart from the Brookings Institute may be the most important piece of education data I've seen in some years. The chart shows how teacher certification pedigree affects student performance in Los Angeles. Meaning, it shows whether traditionally state-certified teachers really are more effective in the classroom.

First, notice the incredible variation in performance by teachers. The most effective teachers, clustered on the right hand of the bell curve, move their average students up about 14 percentile points. Moving a classroom of kids from average (50th percentile) to well above average (64th percentile) is quite a feat.

Now look at the left side of the bell curve. These teachers are dragging their students in the opposite direction by approximately the same amount. These teachers took their children at the 50th percentile and dragged them down to the 35th.

Tragically for the students, we have a system of compensating teachers that insists on treating all types of teachers the same, and makes it difficult to remove the sub-par teachers from the classroom.

Finally, take a look at the three bell curves-traditionally certified teachers, alternatively certified teachers, and uncertified teachers. Notice the microscopic differences in student performance between those three groups of teachers, but the gigantic differences between the effective and ineffective teachers.

The implications are clear: principals should be free to hire whomever they think best suited for their schools regardless of certification; progress should be measured over time; and effective teachers should be rewarded, and ineffective teachers let go.

Dr. Matthew Ladner is vice president of research at the Goldwater Institute.

PAChyderm Coalition meeting Wed. with freshmen legislators

PAChyderm Coalition MO


Celebrating Conservative Election Successes in 2008


We changed our regular meeting date to accommodate our newly elected Freshman Legislators from around the state who will be in town on December 9 and 10 for Orientation in the House.

We will be proudly introducing many of the PAChyderm endorsed Freshman Legislators for the first time to the Reagan Party Platform Republican grass roots leaders here in Maricopa County.

A very special

Meet & Greet/Christmas Party Dinner Meeting

Please Note Date and Location:

Wednesday, December 10 at 6:15 p.m.

El Paso Bar-B-Que

4303 West Peoria Ave

(Southwest Corner of 43rd Ave & Peoria)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Accidents increasing by 52% due to photo speed cameras

Thanks to the blog Camera Fraud for noting this. Several cities have already banned Redflex speed cameras as a result.

Liberty's Apothecary responds to Goldwater Institute report on Sheriff Arpaio

I generally agree with everything the Goldwater Institute puts out, but Liberty's Apothecary has an interesting rebuttal to their latest report criticizing Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The libertarian Goldwater Institute takes issue with Arpaio over his crime suppression sweeps targeting illegal immigrants, because philosophically the think tank leans towards open borders.

But that brings us to an interesting quandary - is it really libertarian to favor open borders, IF we know we're never going to get rid of the social welfare state? As long as illegal immigrants are using public welfare benefits in disproportionate numbers, doesn't that sort of destroy any advocacy for open borders, because open borders in essence would increase costs to taxpayers, something libertarians oppose?

I think libertarians would be better off focusing on shrinking social welfare programs, rather than capitulating like the neocons and accepting them. When you make an argument based on a socialist premise, your argument is going to be flawed every time.

AFP: Nationwide Hot Air Balloon Tour Highlighting Dangers of Global Warming Alarmism to Stop in Phoenix, Dec. 6

Event aims to educate citizens on economic costs of global warming policies

PHOENIX – The free-market grassroots group Americans for Prosperity (AFP) will bring its nationwide hot air balloon tour to Phoenix this Saturday, Dec. 6, for a grassroots event at the El Zaribah Shrine Auditorium. The Cost of Hot Air Tour will highlight economy-destroying stealth energy tax hikes contained in legislation being pushed by global warming alarmists, along with the dangerous regulatory power grab proposed by the unelected bureaucrats at the EPA, who want to regulate greenhouse gases as hazardous pollutants under the Clean Air Act.

The balloon launch is free and open to media and the public.

A crowd of citizens will hear from AFP policy director Phil Kerpen and Wall Street Journal columnist Steve Moore about the economic one-two punch that global warming legislation would deliver to Arizona and the nation. The event will have a strong visual component, most notably AFP’s huge 70-foot-tall hot air balloon, emblazoned with the message, Global Warming Alarmism: Lost Jobs, Higher Taxes, Less Freedom.

WHO: Americans for Prosperity

WHAT: Grassroots rally with a 70-foot-tall hot air balloon. Doughnuts and coffee will be served and tethered hot air balloon rides will be provided, weather permitting. There is no cost to attend the balloon launch and news conference, but citizens are encouraged to reply to or by phone to (602) 478-0146. To register for the AFP Foundation policy summit taking place from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., visit

WHEN: 8:00 to 10:00 a.m., Saturday, December 6. News conference at 9:30 a.m.

WHERE: El Zaribah Shrine Auditorium, 552 N 40th St in Phoenix (just south of 202 on 40th)

The cross-country Cost of Hot Air Tour began in Washington, DC in April. The tour has already visited over two dozen key locations around the country.

Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is the nation’s premier grassroots organization committed to advancing every individual’s right to economic freedom and opportunity. AFP believes reducing the size and scope of government is the best safeguard to ensuring individual productivity and prosperity for all Americans. AFP educates and engages citizens in support of restraining state and federal government growth, and returning government to its constitutional limits. For more information, visit

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Goldwater Institute: Liberty Requires Judicial Watchmen

by Nick Dranias

Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson of the U.S. Court of Appeals, 4th Circuit, recently wrote that the Supreme Court should have deferred to the political process rather than strike down Washington, D.C.'s gun ban under the Second Amendment. He argued that liberty is diminished by "handing our democratic destiny to the courts," calling for judicial disengagement from divisive constitutional disputes.

But an engaged judiciary is crucial to safeguarding our republic. This is because any guarantee of liberty is meaningless unless someone stands up for it.

A case in point is Citizens for Constitutional Fairness versus Jackson County, which struck down an effort to undermine the property rights protections guaranteed by Oregon's Proposition 37.

Like Arizona's Proposition 207, Oregon's proposition generally promised compensation to landowners when property values were reduced by new regulations. But Prop. 37 did not stop there. Prop. 37 also required compensation for pre-existing regulations unless the government would agree to waive them.

Jackson County, like many local governments in Oregon, chose the waiver option to avoid compensating people like Velma A. Dickey, whose property was threatened by development restrictions.

But in 2007, Oregon passed Prop. 49, disqualifying Mrs. Dickey and others from Prop. 37's protections. Predictably, Jackson County then reneged on its waiver agreement, upending Mrs. Dickey's plans for her property.

The deferential judiciary preferred by people like Judge Wilkinson would have done nothing, surrendering Mrs. Dickey's fate to the political process. Fortunately, U.S. District Court Judge Owen M. Panner had no fear of engagement. He ruled the County "must honor its obligations" or else it would violate the Contracts Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Judge Panner recognized that the political process is merely a confluence of legislative deliberation, executive discretion, majority will and special interest influence. These competing forces alone often cause the law to flow in liberty's general direction. But too often the political process impedes liberty. When it does, eternal vigilance requires the watchmen of an engaged judiciary.

Robert Robb on Governor Napolitano's poor legacy

Great column today in the Republic by Robert Robb. (Funny, it was impossible to find the column on the Republic's website, fortunately aznewsonline carries his columns on their homepage) Some excerpts:

Arizona still ranks 49th in K-12 per-pupil operating expenditures. Our 4th grade reading scores are 47th lowest on federal tests. In math, we rank 46th...Arizona still has the fourth highest dropout rate in the country....

In her economic plan released during the 2002 campaign, Napolitano said: “We rank at the bottom of the nation in education while leading the nation in dropout rates. We have among the highest uninsured and underinsured individuals in the country, and are dangerously close to cutting the jugular of our universities. Our economy has diversified little in the last ten years, and we are facing one of the largest deficits in the nation. What is wrong with this picture?”

Putting aside the hyperbole about the universities' jugular, the picture as Napolitano is leaving is pretty much the same as when she entered...

She didn't really even advance any proposals that would materially move these markers....

Arizona ranked 37th among the states in per capita income when Napolitano took office. As she leaves, we rank 40th. the final analysis, her most instructive legacy isn't in what she did, but in what she complained about but didn't change.

2 upcoming AZ ACLU events

Always good to keep an eye on these guys, since they're always on the opposite side of issues:

The first is an interactive community forum on sex education featuring a panel of health care professionals, educators and teens who will gather this Thursday, December 4th to discuss curricula taught in local schools, recent research findings, and local and national trends in sex education in public schools.

The panel will give parents and members of the public an opportunity to ask experts direct questions about teen health, parental involvement, and school programs.

Thursday | December 4 | 2008
Tumbleweed Recreation Center | 745 E. Germann Road
| 6 - 8 p

- Admission is free and open to the public -

Panelists include:

Dr. Mary Ellen Rimsza, a practicing Phoenix pediatrician and executive member of the AmericanAcademy of Pediatrics.

Darcy White, a high school teacher in the Peoria School District

Alexa Magee, a junior at HorizonHigh School.

The event is being sponsored by the Coalition for Healthy Arizona Teens (CHAT), a broad coalition of health, advocacy and educational groups that are working to eliminate Arizona's use of federal funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that teach inaccurate, incomplete, and harmful information about sexuality. The ACLU of Arizona is a member of CHAT.

Additionally, I would like to invite you to join hundreds of people who have already registered to attend the day-long
Statewide Town Hall this Saturday, December 6th, from 10 am to 5 pm at Arizona State University in Tempe. The Town Hall will provide a safe space in which to debrief about the 2008 elections, nationally and locally, and create a pathway to advance LGBT civil rights in Arizona.

The Town Hall will feature compelling guest speakers; breakout groups on equality-based topics; political analysis workshops; community organizing trainings and much more!

Sign up today to reserve your seat!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Goldwater Institute: Message sent and received

by Matthew Ladner, Ph.D.
In the Dark Knight, the Joker burns a mountain of cash. "It's not about money," he maniacally explains to shocked onlookers. "It's about sending a message."

This chart shows 2006 state appropriations per full-time student at a variety of institutions. While most of these are first-rate, public universities, one of them is one of the nation's most dysfunctional school districts-the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS).

Even the most frugal university on the list, University of Texas at Austin, employs an army of Ph.Ds, including Nobel- and Pulitzer-Prize winners; has an atom smasher and a nuclear reactor; seven on-campus museums; 17 libraries; a Gutenberg bible; and many other absurdly expensive ornaments.

And yet, DCPS spending per pupil would almost cover the expenses for two students to attend UT. Incidentally, 61 percent of DCPS 4th graders score below basic in reading.

In spite of this obscenity, DC's unions are fiercely resisting the efforts of the Mayor and Chancellor to reform the district.

Goldwater Institute: Alan Korwin on How safe is the Bill of Rights?

The Bill of Rights was ratified on Dec. 15, 1791. Whether through luck or fate, this is perfect timing for recognizing that seminal document, which for more than two centuries has been a lynchpin of human freedom and limits on government power.

flagAmericans of all stripes have for years railed against perceived and actual reductions in our human rights from the current administration. Now, there is concern about impending threats to freedoms guaranteed under the Bill of Rights, from actions promised or implied by the incoming presidential administration.

Whether the new boss is better or worse than the old boss is not the issue. Preservation of human and civil rights that have made this nation a beacon of freedom for the entire world is what matters. The real issues are: Is the Bill of Rights working? What are the threats to its health? What if anything can be done to bolster its protection of we the people?

These questions cannot be answered without first appreciating the meaning of the document that makes them possible. Accordingly, for the sixth year in a row, Arizonans are planning a gathering on Monday, Dec. 15 at 5:30 p.m. at the Wrigley Mansion to read the Bill aloud and consider these issues. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Now completing his twelfth book, Alan Korwin is widely recognized as a leading expert on America's gun laws, and has made nearly 1,000 radio and TV appearances.