Everyone keeps telling me “things are different this year” in the Arizona House of Representatives.
From my perspective, there are many possible reasons why things are different, but the three most obvious are: 1) Speaker of the House J.D. Mesnard has chosen to run the House efficiently and fairly; 2) 23 House members (including 13 Democrats and 10 Republicans) were elected for the first time in 2016; and 3) the Democratic Caucus is highly diverse, with half of the members being women, more than half Latino, and several Progressive.
The result has been some interesting votes on funding issues. On several spending votes, fiscally conservatives (who don’t like to spend money) and fiscally conservative Progressives (who don’t want to spend money on non-essentials until the schools are made whole) are voting together for different reasons. (This phenomenon is being reported at the Congressional level also— with both far-right Republicans and Progressive Democrats voicing extreme dislike for TrumpCare.)
As the Arizona House moves from hearing bills in committee and voting on the floor to debating and voting on the budget, it will be interesting to watch the Conservative/Progressive budget hawks. A hint of things to come can be found in a recent article from the Capitol Times: Ducey determined to pass university bond plan lawmakers dislike.
As outlined in his address to the Arizona Legislature on Inauguration Day, Governor Doug Ducey wants to increase funding for building construction and repairs at the three universities by giving them back the tax they paid on the purchases they made. (The proposal is to refund their Transaction Privilege Tax or TPT– essentially sales tax.)
The universities would split the roughly $30 million per year proportionally and use those funds to pay interest on roughly $1 billion in bonds.
There are multiple reasons I don’t like this idea…