On Monday, January 11, 2010, the Arizona Legislature goes back into session. My wish for the new year is that Arizona's Republican lawmakers will put aside right wing ideology and work with Democratic lawmakers to develop shared solutions to the state's tremendous economic and social problems.
In other words, it's time to govern.
2009 was a disastrous year in Arizona politics. A year ago, when Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano moved to the post of Homeland Security Director in the Obama administration, Secretary of State Jan Brewer became governor. Napoitano brought lawmakers from both sides of the aisle together to create legislation. Brewer and her fellow Republicans in the legislature have shut Democratic lawmakers out of the process and essentially disenfranchised Baja Arizona residents represented by them.
Disregarding the Democrats' ideas and legislation has been a long-standing Republican tactic in the Arizona Legislature, but at a time when Arizona faces a monumental, multi-billion-dollar budget crisis, it is unconscionable for the Governor and other state-level Republicans to ignore Democratic legislators and their constituents.
Republican budget cuts affect us--our schools, our universities, our children, our jobs-- but we Democrats in Southern Arizona are basically unrepresented in the legislature.
In addition to the 2009 regular session, legislators have tackled budget issues on and off for months in multiple special sessions, but even with millions of dollars in cuts they have only nipped around the edges of the deficit.
How did Arizona get into such a financial fix? Of course, the US economic downturn has played a large role in the states' financial problems, but Republicans on both the state and federal levels who gave multiple tax cuts to the richest Americans must own some of the blame for the deficits. In Arizona, multiple tax cuts have resulted in a government that relies heavily on sales tax. With sales of homes and other goods down and unemployment at a record high, the state's revenues continue to shrink.
Undoubtedly, the blood-letting with continue during 2010. Republicans refuse to entertain revenue-generating solutions. In fact, this week, House Republicans announced plans to raise taxes on middle class Arizonans while offering more tax cuts to businesses.
How can they in good conscience off revenue cuts in the midst of a budget crisis? Their claim is that these business tax cuts will incentivize businesses to relocate to Arizona. They have a short-sighted view of what businesses want. Yes, it has become fashionable for states and cities to bend over backwards and offer multiple incentives to entice national sports teams and large businesses to relocate, but businesses look for other amenities-- like quality schools and universities, an educated workforce to draw from, a well-maintain infrastructure, and enlightened government.
As an old hippie, I wonder why are we Baja Arizonans not outraged over our disenfranchisement, the ineptitude of our state government, and the lack of leadership displayed by our governor?
We should be protesting at Jan Brewer's speech in Phoenix next week. Or at the very least, we should be bugging them on the phone and on e-mail. Check out the link box on this page for contact information and updates about proposed bill. Viva Baja Arizona!
This article originally appeared in my Progressive Examiner column.