Goings on at the Capitol

by David Safier

I went to Phoenix today to participate in the March4Schools rally. Thousands of people were there — I couldn't tell how many thousands — making noise about the importance of adequate funding for schools.

More on that in a later post. The most interesting moment for me was a half hour before the rally began when a number of legislators came out to work the crowd. Most were Democrats, since it was their kind of crowd. But I saw two Republicans (there could have been more): Sen. Jonathan Paton from LD-30 and my own Rep. Vic Williams from LD-26.

To my surprise, Williams came up to me and began a cordial conversation which lasted about 10 minutes. I didn't take contemporaneous notes, but right afterward, I scribbled down what I remembered, which I'm certain is accurate, though not verbatim.

Here are some of the things Williams said.
  • He's not against the idea of increased taxes. He thinks a sales tax hike is OK. When I said I thought sales taxes are the most regressive form of taxation, he nodded and said he thought a raise in property taxes was probably a better idea because it's a more stable revenue source.
  • He's not really for repealing the equalization property tax, because he knows we could use the $250 million, though he thinks it shouldn't be so heavily weighted toward taxing businesses, which pay more than individual property owners. When I asked why he was one of the sponsors of the repeal, he said he'd really like the issue to be taken up as part of the entire budget negotiation process. I repeated, but you must be for the repeal, since you're a cosponsor of the bill. He brushed my comment aside and said he wants it to be considered as part of the entire budgeting process. 
  • He thinks the Democrats are harming the 2010 budget process by not coming to the Republicans with ideas. All options — borrowing, taxation and cuts — should be on the table, he said. I asked how tax hikes can be on the table when enough Republicans have taken the No New Taxes Pledge to block any new taxes. He repeated, all options should be on the table. Do you think Republicans will consider a tax hike? I asked. Yes,he thinks they would consider it, and all options should be on the table. He repeated that Democrats are harming the budgeting process by refusing to bring ideas forward and work together with the Republicans.
  • The March4Schools rally was preparing to start at 4pm, the same time Gov. Brewer had called a joint session of the legislature to talk about her ideas for the 2010 budget. Williams said he thought it was great that all these people had come to the Capitol when the Governor was planning to speak. I raised my eyebrows in hopeful expectation and asked, Oh, is Governor Brewer planning to speak to us out here? Williams said probably not, but it was great that all these people came to the Capitol when Governor Brewer was planning to speak. I said, I'm sure you know this rally was planned long before Brewer announced her speech to the legislature. He said, Oh, really? I explained to him that the rally had been planned at least a month ago while Brewer just announced her speech last week, so these people weren't here because of the Governor, though I'm sure she would be given time on the speaker's platform if she wanted it. He kind of nodded. 
  • We shook hands cordially, I wandered toward the crowd gathering around the speaker's platform, and he headed off to hear the Gov.

That's a fair and reasonably accurate depiction of some of the things we talked about. The only comment I'll make about our conversation is that it was consistent with my other encounters with Williams: slightly surreal, and difficult for me to understand exactly what he was saying or why he was saying it. The only thing I knew for sure was that he was trying to find common ground, and the ground was always shifting.

One response to “Goings on at the Capitol

  1. Yep, poor Vic is so often conflicted by his desire to be reasonable and the GOP caucus sitting on his neck with the word ‘RINO’ on its lips, and holding the leash of a Melvin clone waiting to challenge his primary 🙂 The insistence that the Democrats help is really kind of sad. Sort of a silent scream for help from the moderate/libertarian wing of the GOP.