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PHOENIX- Today after a years-long effort, Senator Victoria Steele’s bill (SB1007) protecting victims of rape by terminating their rapists' parental rights passed with overwhelming bipartisan support and now heads to Governor Ducey to sign into law. Current Arizona state law allows rapists to get joint custody, tying the victim to their rapist for life.

“Women shouldn’t be forced by law to share parental rights with rapists. Words cannot express how elated and grateful I am to my Republican and Democratic colleagues in the House for passing my bill and finally sending it to the Governor, said Senator Victoria Steele. “No one should be tethered to their rapist and abuser for life by being forced to share parental rights. As a victim of sexual assault myself, I know firsthand the trauma and pain victims of rape experience. While we cannot change what happened in the past, we can change what happens in the future and lessen the pain by not allowing a rapist parental rights. This was the correct and good thing to do.”

Arizona Senate Democrat’s released the following statement on the Republican budget passed in the Senate.


“Last night under the cover of darkness, the Republican majority forced their flat tax budget through the State Senate on party lines, with no effort to find bipartisan solutions with Senate Democrats. This budget was neither fair nor transparent. Instead, it was crafted behind closed doors, ignoring the input of real Arizonans and ignoring the input of Democratic Senators. We could have had a transformational budget to rebuild and revitalize Arizona with a $2 billion surplus that could go toward paying down our debt, investing in our public schools, providing teachers much needed raises, updating and repairing our state's infrastructure and more. Instead, Republicans prioritized welfare for the wealthy, forcing Arizonans to subsidize the lifestyles of the rich with this radical tax cut plan. Further, Republicans snuck in a pandora's box of partisan bills, completely unrelated to the budget, that included a host of election conspiracy theories, attacks on teachers, the largest ESA expansion in the history of the state, banning mask and vaccine mandates at schools and more.


Arizona doesn't need more tax cuts that will only help the wealthiest Arizonans. Many low- and middle-income Arizonans have faced extraordinary challenges after the last year. Rather than helping them, this budget will give them about a $15 tax cut while giving millionaires a minimum of a $46,000 tax cut and tens of thousands of dollars more for the mega wealthy.

We had a real opportunity to help Arizona's working families restore, recover and rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic. A true Arizona budget would raise teacher pay, make higher education more affordable, extend healthcare to uninsured children, address affordable housing shortages, reform an antiquated unemployment insurance system, invest in critical infrastructure and protect the most vulnerable Arizonans. But rather than sit down and develop a budget that represents the entire state, our colleagues are far more interested in giving out welfare for the wealthy. We’re forcing hard working Arizonans to pay for the lifestyles of the richest after a year where they lost their jobs, lost their homes and lost loved ones to COVID. It's beyond cruel. It's outright malevolent. Arizonans deserve better.”

House and Senate Democrats today released a joint budget proposal that would help Arizona's working families restore, recover and rebuild from the year-long COVID-19 pandemic. The $12.9 billion Democratic plan would raise teacher pay, make higher education more affordable, extend healthcare to uninsured children, address affordable housing shortages, reform an antiquated unemployment insurance system, invest in critical infrastructure and protect and uplift the most vulnerable Arizonans. The joint budget plan would: • Strengthen our economy by strengthening our public schools, community colleges and universities. • Raise teacher pay to 25th in the nation and on par with competing neighboring states like Colorado. • Make college more affordable and invest in job-creating New Economy initiatives. • Expand KidsCare health insurance to cover an additional 30,000 children. • Reform an unemployment insurance system overwhelmed by the pandemic and hampered by the second-lowest weekly benefit in the nation. • Provide a hand up for people facing or experiencing homelessness, those using our social safety net, vulnerable adults, and others left behind during a difficult year. • Support rural and Tribal communities through key investments in broadband, roads and education.

Senate Democratic Leader Rebecca Rios, D-Phoenix: "The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare all of our social inequities and misplaced priorities. Even now as Arizona families and small businesses still struggle with the pandemic, our colleagues on the other side of the aisle aren’t talking about investing in resources and programs to support them. They're talking about yet another massive tax cut. Arizona doesn't need more tax cuts that will only help corporations and the wealthiest. Arizona needs to fund COVID recovery for families and small businesses and invest in services and programs that benefit all Arizonans. Legislative Democrats are ready with a budget that invests in our schools, streamlines our ineffective unemployment insurance program, fixes inaccessible housing assistance programs, and helps small businesses stay afloat until our economy stabilizes. We're ready with immediate common-sense solutions to help Arizonans and we hope our colleagues join us in a budget that revitalizes Arizona."
House Democratic Leader Reginald Bolding, D-Phoenix: "Arizona remains one of the fastest-growing states in the nation, and one of the hardest-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. We have the resources to help get working families back on their feet, help our students and teachers thrive as schools recover and re-set our economy toward sustainable growth. This is not the time for another massive, irresponsible and unsustainable tax giveaway for the wealthy. Our constituents are calling out for help, not tax cuts for an elite few, which moves that help farther out of reach. We invite Governor Ducey, the Speaker and Senate President, and all our Republican colleagues who want a brighter future for our state to work with us on turning these ideas into policy."