5 Myths and Facts about Senator Worsley’s Voting Record
1. Did the 2013 Medicaid restoration bill provide funding for abortions or permit Medicaid recipients to use tax dollars to pay for abortions?
No. The Medicaid restoration bill, H.B. 2010, neither provided funding for abortion nor permitted Medicaid recipients to seek abortions using taxpayer money.
Arizona law predating the 2013 Medicaid restoration bill specifically excluded “abortion or abortion counseling” from the types of “medically necessary health and medical services” that AHCCCS (Arizona’s state plan for administering Medicaid) was obligated to provide. Additionally, Arizona law expressly provided that “no public funds or tax monies of this state or any political subdivision of this state nor any federal funds passing through the state treasury . . . may be expended for payment to any person or entity for the performance of any abortion[.]” The 2013 Medicaid restoration bill did not alter or affect either of these existing prohibitions.
Furthermore, the federal “Hyde Amendment” has, since 1976, prohibited the use of federal funds for abortions except in cases involving endangerment of the life of the mother, rape, or incest. Thus, regardless of any Arizona law, federal law has long banned any medical provider from using Medicaid monies to perform elective abortions.
Additionally, expanded AHCCCS eligibility does not thwart any legislative attempt to defund abortion providers altogether (for example, barring Planned Parenthood from receiving any Medicaid monies whatsoever, even if the funds only used for mammography screenings) because the federal courts have already precluded Arizona’s ability to do so. For example, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently held as follows:
An Arizona statute bars patients eligible for the state’s Medicaid program from obtaining covered family planning services through health care providers who perform abortions in cases other than medical necessity, rape, or incest. See Ariz.Rev.Stat. § 35–196.05(B). Such abortions are already ineligible for Medicaid coverage and so must be paid for with private funds. The Arizona law extends the ineligibility to non-abortion services such as gynecological exams and cancer screenings unless the patient’s provider agrees to stop performing privately funded elective abortions.
Before the Arizona law could go into effect, Planned Parenthood of Arizona and several individual plaintiffs filed this lawsuit challenging the Arizona law as a violation of the federal Medicaid Act. That Act provides that state Medicaid programs must allow Medicaid recipients to obtain care from “any [provider] qualified to perform the service or services required,” and that enrollment in a Medicaid managed-care plan “shall not restrict the choice of the qualified [provider] from whom the individual may receive” “family planning services.” 42 U.S.C. §§ 1396a(a)(23) & 1396d(a)(4)(C). This provision is known as the Act's free-choice-of-provider requirement. . . .
[W]e hold that the Arizona statute contravenes the Medicaid Act’s requirement that states give Medicaid recipients a free choice of qualified provider. The Arizona law violates this requirement by precluding Medicaid patients from using medical providers concededly qualified to perform family planning services to patients in Arizona generally, solely on the basis that those providers separately perform privately funded, legal abortions.
As a result of this federal court ruling, any Arizona law that attempts to prohibit medical providers from receiving any Medicaid money whatsoever would be unenforceable as a matter of law. In other words, the courts have hamstrung the Legislature’s ability to prohibit so-called “indirect” funding of abortion—that is, to the extent one accepts the premise that AHCCCS-funded mammography screenings indeed indirectly fund abortion services. Therefore, since the Legislature cannot legally put the Planned Parenthoods of the world out of business, the best it can do is maintain Arizona’s long-standing commitment that no public dollars may be spent on abortion or abortion counseling services. The 2013 Medicaid restoration bill achieved that goal.
Finally, it is important to note that Sen. Worsley voted for H.B. 2284 (signed into law in April 2014), which (1) requires facilities that perform abortions to allow inspectors access to audit the facilities’ compliance with state law; and (2) makes it a crime to assist a minor in obtaining an abortion in violation of Arizona law.
2. Would any Medicaid-related amendments Sen. Worsley voted against have barred abortion funding?
No. None of the proposed floor amendments on June 12, 2014 dealt with abortion. Moreover, existing law already prohibits abortion funding.
Moreover, for the reasons discussed above, any legislative attempt to enact a more sweeping ban would be struck down by the courts. The United States Supreme Court refused to hear Arizona’s appeal in Planned Parenthood Arizona v. Betlach, which means that Arizona is permanently enjoined from enforcing the existing statute that bans contracts and grants “to any person that performs nonfederally qualified abortions or maintains or operates a facility where nonfederally qualified abortions are performed for the provision of family planning services.”
Accordingly, any legislation that sought to re-enact, re-word, or further expand existing law with respect to third-party/private funding of abortions would be struck down in federal court. This legal reality renders any such legislation purely symbolic, and would serve to spawn years of litigation where pro-abortion groups would seek (and potentially be awarded) their attorneys’ fees for suing the State of Arizona. In Planned Parenthood Arizona v. Betlach, Planned Parenthood, the ACLU and their attorneys were recently awarded $233,000 in attorneys’ fees, plus interest.
3. Did the 2013 Medicaid restoration bill permit illegal immigrants to receive aid?
No, illegal immigrants are ineligible to enroll in AHCCCS. The statute expressly provides that “a person who is applying for [Medicaid] eligibility . . . shall provide verification of United States citizenship or documented verification of qualified alien status.”
The Arizona Auditor General monitors AHCCCS’s compliance with this eligibility provision. In particular, a 2012 Arizona Auditor General’s report found that AHCCCS assiduously complies with the citizenship verification requirements:
AHCCCS and DES correctly processed approximately 94 percent of eligibility determinations. However, for 16 of the 279 eligibility determinations, auditors identified processing errors. Auditors calculated a processing error rate for the population of 5.92 percent. These processing errors involved problems related to correctly calculating and verifying income or resources, both critical components of the eligibility determination process. Auditors did not identify any problems with other eligibility criteria, such as citizenship or residency, for the 279 eligibility determination cases reviewed.
The 2013 Medicaid restoration bill did not alter any citizenship-related eligibility criteria under AHCCCS.
4. Did Senator Worsley vote to support college scholarships for illegal immigrants?
No. The Arizona Senate did not vote on any bills to support or fund college scholarships for illegal immigrants during Senator Worsley’s tenure in office. In fact, Proposition 300 already prohibits illegal immigrants from being classified as in-state students for tuition purposes or receiving student financial aid.
5. Did Senator Worsley vote for a $400 million property tax increase?
No. This claim is completely erroneous.
Senator Worsley voted for H.B. 2003 (First. Spec. Sess. 2013), a 143-page budget reconciliation bill intended to make statutory changes to fund K-12 education, but the bill did not raise property taxes. Rather, any property tax increase could only be imposed by local voters at the ballot.
One provision in H.B. 2003 affected local school districts’ ability to issue voter-approved bonds to fund long-term capital needs, such as school construction, building renovations, furniture, equipment, technology and student transportation vehicles. For example, A.R.S. § 15-1021(D) previously capped a unified school district’s bonded indebtedness for so-called “Class B” bonds at 10% of the district’s tax base. For non-unified school districts (known as common or union school districts), indebtedness was capped at 5% of the district’s tax base. The debt service on these bonds is funded with local property tax revenues—but must be approved by voters.
H.B. 2003 increased these authorized caps to 20% and 10% respectively, subject to local voter approval. School districts were not required to incur any additional indebtedness to reach these caps; rather, the legislation merely provided school districts the authority to do so.
As of last year, only 39 of 119 total school districts lacked additional bonding capacity under the current statutory caps, so at most only 33% of school districts would even consider incurring additional indebtedness. Moreover, any increase in property taxes to pay for that additional indebtedness would have to be approved by the voters in that school district.
The Joint Legislative Budget Committee (JLBC) never did a fiscal analysis of the bonding provision in H.B. 2003. However the JLBC analyzed a similar provision in H.B 2399 (a predecessor bill which died in the House), and concluded as follows:
The bill would not have a state fiscal impact, as debt service on school district bonds is funded with non-state monies only. The local impact is highly uncertain because it would depend on decisions by local school boards and voters, but is roughly estimated at up to $400 million.
School district bonding would be expected to increase under the bill, since it would raise the current statutory caps on “Class B” bonding. The amount of increase is highly uncertain, as it would depend on decisions by local school boards and voters. A rough proxy, however, could be the amount of bonds currently authorized but not issued by school districts with negative bonding capacity under the current caps, which is approximately $400 million. Some districts, however, still might not have enough bonding capacity under the bill to issue their full share of the $400 million.
Thus, claims that H.B. 2003 “could potentially increase property taxes by up to $400 million statewide” were highly misleading, if not erroneous. The $400 million JLBC figure represented the potential maximum school district indebtedness that could be incurred in the aggregate, not the potential increase in property taxes to fund that indebtedness. Moreover, not every school district will “have enough bonding capacity under the bill to issue their full share of the $400 million,” so the amount of actual aggregate indebtedness will be less. And finally, the estimate itself “is highly uncertain because it would depend on decisions by local school boards and voters.”
1. Senator Worsley voted for H.B. 2003, which contained one provision in a 143-page budget bill that would have authorized local school districts to incur additional bond indebtedness to fund school construction if voters chose to do so.
2. H.B. 2003 did not raise property taxes. Property taxes are assessed at the local level, not state level.
3. Under H.B. 2003, at most 1/3 of Arizona school districts would potentially need any additional bonding capacity. And of the districts that might be inclined to incur additional indebtedness, they would need to seek voter approval at the ballot box.
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