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Livingston: Not without strings attached

Livingston today told our reporter that he concurs with Finchem’s complaints yesterday that the education funding plans proposed thus far are missing accountability measures to ensure the money will actually improve the state’s education system and make sure the additional money doesn’t just go into a black hole. “I think [Finchem] is correct that just throwing more money into education doesn’t fix anything. What good does that do? We need results, we need better results,” he said.

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It’s not all about the Benjamins, baby

Finchem told our reporter today that the school funding proposals – and the entire current debate over education funding – attacks the problem backwards. None of the education plans proposed include any specific goals, such as attracting and retaining new teachers, increasing student test scores or graduation rates, and they don’t include metrics for gauging whether adding additional dollars into the K-12 system will have a positive effect.

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If the president asks, is it wise to say no?

A Senate source said Biggs, who is asking for an audit of First Things First, will likely tap the auditor general for the job. Technically, Biggs does not have the power to direct the auditor general to conduct the audit, but he can make such as a request to Burges, who chairs the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, which has some purview over the auditor general.

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Do you want the good news or the bad news first?

If revenue projections hold steady, the state could be staring at a $650 million in cash balance in two years. The Finance Advisory Committee today predicted that revenues would grow by four percent each year in FY16 and FY17, and Arizona’s finances would be structurally balanced at the end of FY17.

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Drawing battle lines

As expected, First Things First is opposing Republican leaders’ proposal to divert its funding and put the money into K-12 education. “Taken together, the ideas in the [GOP leadership] plan represent the elimination of everything Arizona voters achieved when they created the organization in the first place – local control, a focus on early childhood, and fiscal responsibility,” Janice Decker, chairwoman of the First Things First board, said in a written statement.

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The true patriots have offices at 1700 W Washington

Gowan said his time in the Legislature gives him a proven record that his fellow CD1 GOP hopefuls lack. In addition to major budget reductions the Legislature has implemented since his arrival at the Capitol in 2009, Gowan pointed to his record on illegal immigration issues. “There’s no bigger border hawk than I am," he said.

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Jones eyeing CD9 race

Former GoDaddy executive and gubernatorial hopeful Christine Jones is considering a run for CD9. Jones confirmed to our reporter that she’s meeting with NRCC officials next week, and Brian Seitchik, her 2014 campaign consultant, said she is actively considering a run against Sinema. “She’s been approached by folks both in Arizona and across the country to run for CD9. And she is thinking about it,” Seitchik said.

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Once every super blood moon…

It might ultimately not go anywhere, but the Dems’ K-12 funding proposal unveiled yesterday reaffirmed a shift in thinking at the Capitol: There is an emerging consensus, accepted begrudgingly even by conservative leaders, that the state needs to put more money into K-12 schools.

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