by David Safier
The world is a simple place for Senator and gubernatorial candidate Al Melvin.
"We spend about $9,000 per pupil in this state. About $1,200 of that comes from the federal government. Keep it. We don't need it."
Melvin's plan, if elected, would be to reject any federal education funding and create a universal voucher system that parents can use at any school in the state.
Melvin, some other Republican legislators and the Goldwater Institute all love to say Arizona spends $9,000 per student. Everyone else puts it in the $7,000 to $7,500 range — even current A.G. and former Ed Supe Tom Horne. We've been in the bottom four states in education spending nearly forever. A universal voucher system? It can't happen by the front door, since Arizona tax dollars can't be spent on religious education, and over 70% of private schools in AZ and across the country are religious. Melvin might advocate a back door, like tuition tax credits or our current "empowerment scholarships," but knowing Al, he probably wants to do it straight up. The rule of law is important for other folks, but if you're a true believing right winger with God on your side, laws and the state constitution are impediments that can be ignored.
Melvin's answer to other federally funded programs and federal land is, turn it over to the state.
Melvin also declared that he would hand over control of the federal Medicaid, food stamp and other social services dollars the state gets from the federal government to the Legislature.
The money is currently under the control of the Arizona Governor's Office, he said. It should be under the Legislature's control. They're the ones who are supposed to be in charge of appropriating the state's funds.
Melvin also vowed to wrestle control of the state's federal public lands from the federal government.
"Only 12 to 13 percent of our land is in private hands," he said. "I want to convert all national forest land and (Bureau of Land Management) land to state land."
Continuing on: Harvest more trees. Get rid of the state income tax. Import the Texas tort laws. To stop immigration dead in its tracks, "a double walled fence, a state militia and an underground cable that would detect people crossing the border."
I want Melvin up there on that debate stage with the other Republican candidates, driving them crazy and pushing them to the right. But even though he'd probably be the easiest candidate to defeat in the general don't let Al win the primary, OK? In this state, any Republican can win. Governor Captain Al Melvin? Please, let's not tempt fate.