by David Safier
The 2009 budget bill (with the $22.5 cut to SFAz and education) passed in special session with only the minimum 16 Senate votes required for passage. Two Republican senators, Carolyn Allen and Jay Tibshraeny, had the courage and wisdom to oppose the budget. Only one more vote was needed to defeat it. Two votes could have been had if two Southern Arizona Sens. Al Melvin R-LD26 and Jonathan Paton R-LD30 had voted in their districts’ interests instead of marching in lock step with their Maricopa leadership’s ideology.
More importantly, Senator Melvin, as the powerful vice chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, could have saved the $22.5 for SFAz from being cut in committee, or if that effort failed, during the final vote in the Senate. Better yet, the more experienced Sen. Paton (eight years in the House) could have shown leadership and joined forces with Sen. Melvin and refused to vote for the budget if the cuts to SFAz remained in the bill. Instead, they voted with the Maricopa ideology and against the economic interests of Arizona.
The Southern Arizona tradition of independence is in trouble, she writes:
In the past, Southern Arizona has elected independent legislators who represent their districts and not mirror images of the Maricopa legislators. The past legislators valued public education. During their campaigns, this crop of newly elected senators and representatives vowed to do just that and be independent voices. They vowed to fight for public education and to represent their district’s interests. Clearly they have failed their first test.