Journalists’ Roundtable: Ducey to address gun control, education sales tax
March 16, 2018
Local journalists discuss Gov. Doug Ducey’s plan to address gun control, the student protest at the capitol, the extension of the education sales tax and the energy initiative override.
Governor to Address Gun Control
High school students from across the state showed up to the capitol and Ducey’s office on Wednesday to demand gun reform laws. The governor ignored their request to meet, but the next day spoke about what needs to be changed. The timing is extraordinary if the kids had nothing to do with it, Jeremy Duda of the Arizona Capitol Times says.
In the governor’s words, this will not be a discussion on gun control, but a discussion on a school safety plan. It’s easy to lose Republican votes when you start using the term ‘gun control,'” Duda says.
“I would not expect the governor to close the huge loophole – the gun show loophole, the private sale loophole,” Bob Christie of Associated Press says. “The governor has hinted he is not interested in that. What he is interested in is making sure that the background checks that are in place are accurate.”
Ducey is also pushing for this to be a nonpartisan deal. That is a possibility, but it will depend on what’s in it, Duda says. He says it will be similar to the opioid deal where everyone had a small something that they didn’t agree with, but no one wants to be the name on the paper as the one voting against it.
The right is pushing toward more school resource officers (SROs) on campus. Christie says at the moment Arizona spends $12 million on SROs which only pays for about 120 out of 1,900 schools. In order to have one at every school, the money being spent will have to quintuple. Democrats, on the other hand, are suggesting paying for more school counselors to help identify kids who could be potential threats.
Christie says it’s a safe bet that Ducey will stay away from any hard-hitting, controversial aspects of the issue.
Students Protest Gun Violence
The day after the students showed up at Ducey’s office, the governor received a lot of bad press for not meeting with any of the kids.
“Well, the governor got a little extra pressure as well when he was disappointed that the Cardinals lost one of their free safeties,” Steve Goldstein of KJZZ-FM.
Goldstein is talking about the tweet the governor sent out regarding Tyrann Mathieu leaving the Cardinals while students were outside his office chanting “We call BS.”
“Somebody made a big mistake [by tweeting that out],” Christie says. “The governor should’ve called four or five students into his office. They were there all day. They’re high school students, they’re going to find their way to the ninth floor.”
Education Sales Tax Extension
Prop 301 increased sales tax by 0.6 percent and directed the extra revenue toward education. The proposition is set to expire at the end of 2020 unless it is extended. There is also talk about increasing the sales tax.
The sales tax can increase in two ways. There can be a vote from the legislature which would require two thirds of voters to say yes in order to pass. They can change and adjust the tax in the future if it is passed by legislature. The extension can also be put in the ballot to allow the public to vote. If the public decides on it, the legislature will never be allowed to go into the plan and change or adjust anything.
For the so-called education governor, Christie says it’s not as big of a win as some may think, it just takes it off the table.
Energy Initiative Override
The goal for Arizona at the moment is to have 15 percent renewable energy by 2020.
Christie says the bottom line is utilities want to decide what type of power generation they have in Arizona: coal, natural gas, solar, nuclear. Any business, including utilities, want to look 20 years down the road and see that they are doing the best for their profit margin, he says.
“If this thing passes, it’s probably not going to be the end of this thing,” Duda says. “Corporation Commission staff has already concluded this will probably violate the Arizona constitution because the Arizona constitution gives the Corporation Commission exclusive rate-making authority.”