Journalists’ Roundtable: Teacher strike, Rep. Isela Blanc arrest, taxing streaming services
March 9, 2018
In this week’s Journalists’ Roundtable, guests will discuss the possibility of a teacher strike in the state, the withholding of driver’s licenses from Dreams, the arrest of Rep. Isela Blanc and the taxing of streaming services.
Arizona teachers quickly rallied together after inspired by the educators in West Virginia received a five percent pay increase due to their efforts. It began with a Facebook page that ended up growing in the thousands. An action on Wednesday was created called #RedForEd, where teachers and those who supported them wore red as a symbol of why the state needs to invest in teacher pay.
“They [the legislature] are ignoring the fact that in Arizona pay for teachers sucks to put it mildly,” Howard Fischer from Capitol Media Services says. “They are ignoring the fact that out of 50,000 teaching positions, about 10 percent of those are unfilled. Either the classrooms are being combined with other classrooms or they’re being filled by long term permanent substitutes who may only have a high school diploma… What does it take to get your attention?”
There is more of a challenge for an organized teacher strike in a state as red as Arizona. Many of the teacher unions have democratic values. While teach pay is an issue all can rally behind, Mike Sunnucks from the Phoenix Business Journal says partisanship is still bound to get in the way.
Fischer points out the argument made by those who aren’t in a rush to increase the pay of teachers. Some of them say that academic performance shouldn’t have a dollar value. While it’s a fair argument, Fischer says the converse of that statement can be just as true.
As for the likelihood of Arizona seeing a strike, the odds are a little low. That’s not to say that the teachers and unions are giving up.
“We may see that continued public pressure, that continued conversation, and you may get a win because Arizona could say we did this and we didn’t need to strike,” Dianna Náñez from the Arizona Republic says.
Brnovich vs. Trump
Attorney General Mark Brnovich argues that the state’s decision to not give DACA recipients driver’s licenses trumps a federal decision to overturn that. The Trump administration had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reject Arizona’s request to deny the licenses.
“He’s taken a strong position against DACA and illegal immigrants not only in terms of this case but the case he’s pursuing against Maricopa community colleges and the case against the board of regents for the tuition of dreamers,” Fischer says. “He’s playing populist on this and playing toward some of the anti-DACA, anti-immigrant feelings.”
Lawmaker Arrested in D.C. Demonstration
Rep. Isela Blanc, D-Tempe, was arrested in D.C. during a protest for undocumented immigrants and a call for Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform. She traveled to D.C. with grassroots organization Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA).
“She wanted to give a message because she herself had had undocumented status. She had not been in the country legally,” Náñez says. “She says she feels morally obligated to join these young people and advocate for them.”
Blanc represents a heavily Latino and democratic district in Arizona. Physically joining these sorts of civil rights movement efforts is what her district wants to see. They don’t want to choose a representative who will stand on the sidelines after they had promised to fight for them, and Blanc is displaying that they chose someone they can be proud of.
Taxing of Streaming Services
The line has blurred of what should or should not be exempt from sales tax regarding purchases made online. Arizona Horizon had guests from both sides of the argument this week.
Fischer describes how when he originally wanted a new piece of software he would go to the store and purchase it which included a sales tax. Then it evolved to being able to buy a download of the software online. Today, we’re at a point where it exists somewhere in the cloud. The question that many are asking now is what is taxable?
Sunnucks says it’s a difficult problem to work around because of all the gray area. As Arizona is trying to make the area more appealing to technology businesses, he says it won’t look good if we start taxing items that can be streamed.