It has been a little more than a month since the 53rd Legislature ended with a 40-hour marathon, passing the budget in the middle of the night, under the watchful eye of Red for Ed teachers and supporters.
What did the Legislature do in the 53rd Session?
- We passed the comprehensive Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act, to attack the opioid epidemic in Arizona.
- We passed dental therapy, expanding access to affordable dental care for urban and rural residents and creating new healthcare jobs. (Video.)
- We stopped several corporate tax giveaway bills that would have further drained the general fund and taken money from public education. (Video.)
- We stopped an untested technology from being used on Arizona workers. After Uber and Theranos, hopefully we have learned our lesson on putting untested technologies into statute. (Video.)
What didn’t we do?
- We failed to adequately fund k-12 public education, community colleges or the university system. In fact, the Republican response to the Red for Ed movement was to make 50 fund transfers to pay the teachers a bit more (but not as much as they deserve). It’s time to restore k-12 public education funds for personnel and infrastructure to pre-recession levels. Funding education is economic development. (Video.)
- We failed to tackle our state’s water supply problems. In fact, the Republicans passed bills that would be detrimental to our water supply. It’s time to get serious about water. (Video.)
- We failed to tackle meaningful gun violence reform. The Republicans wanted armed volunteers and teachers in the schools, while the Democrats wanted more, better paid teachers and counselors in the schools and real gun violence reform (like universal background checks, banning bump stocks, and more.) Gun violence is a public health issue. (Video.)
- We failed to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which would ban discrimination based upon sex and guarantee equal pay for equal work and equal protection under the Constitution. All of the Republicans (even the women) voted to shut down debate on the ERA or skipped out on the vote. In fact, the Republicans passed more anti-woman legislation, including fetal resuscitation in 2017 and the “why do you want an abortion bill” in 2018. (ERA vote video.)
- We failed to appropriate $56 million in federal childcare subsidies. I proposed an amendment on budget night to use $56 million in new federal childcare subsidies that would otherwise go unspent. These funds would have dovetailed perfectly with the tiered reimbursement for childcare bill that we passed earlier in 2018; that bill allowed for higher reimbursement for high-quality childcare. The Republican majority cut childcare subsidies for by poor by $80 million during the Tea Party Reign of Terror. That contributed to the foster care crisis because more parents were charged with neglect due to lack of consistent childcare coverage. This $56 million would have gone a long way to fill that $80 million hole. The Republicans voted in lockstep against the amendment and left the money unspent. (Video.)
- We failed to bring our fiscal house in order. Arizona is giving away more tax moneythan it uses to run the state. That is unsustainable. In fact, Republicans and Democrats, who are backed by the Chamber of Commerce, voted to give more of your taxes away in 2017 and 2018. Luckily, fiscally conservative Progressive Democrats and Republicans were able to stop some of these giveaways and sweetheart deals. I am proud to say that I voted against every tax giveaway bill. Trickle down economics doesn’t work. (Video.)
What should the Legislature do in 2019?
- It’s time for the Arizona Legislature to adopt balanced public policies (instead of passing laws written by corporations and special interest groups).
- And it’s time for the Arizona Legislature to fund the People’s To-Do List— education, healthcare, infrastructure and safety and security (instead of funding the corporate tax cut wish list.)
How can we accomplish this? Elect more Legislators who will stand up for and work for the people.
I am doing a series of Legislative Meet and Greet events this summer. The first one is June 28 in the Catalina Foothills (RSVP here), and the second is July 12 in midtown (RSVP here). Learn about the Legislature’s accomplishments and my ideas for the future. Come on down. Let’s get to know each other better.