AZ Rep. Ken Clark (D) and Sen. Debbie Lesko (R) were on Channel 3’s Politics Unplugged to discuss the recently ended legislative session (one of the quickest in history).
(Link to video since, of course, it autoplays when embedded.)
I’m not singling out host Dennis Welch because he’s far from the only news person in Arizona who does this, but this interview is the latest example of the infuriating habit they have of pretending to be utterly ignorant of our state’s political realities so as to appear “balanced”. On the topic of the budget Sen. Lesko stuck to the GOP/Governor Ducey script of how a parsimonious spending plan was what they were elected to do and how education funding wasn’t cut at all (if you squint really hard). Clark criticized Lesko’s dubious math on spending-per-pupil and decried the GOP majority’s abandonment of investment in education and infrastructure in favor of 23 years of tax cut magic. It was what you’d expect from a bipartisan panel. The part that irritated me the most was Welch demanding to know what the Democratic plan was.
Now, Dennis Welch is a very smart man who is well-versed in Arizona politics and government, having covered both in print and on television for years. I find it difficult to believe that he does not know that Democrats run no legislative committees, that their bills and amendments generally die a quick death, their budget proposals are ignored, and that anything that is remotely a Democratic fiscal priority requires persuading several Republicans to go along with it for it to go anywhere. It’s been a full-on GOP hoedown here since 2009 so interrogating a Democratic lawmaker the way Welch did Clark on TV can only be read as an attempt to obscure that fact and push the idea that “both sides” are to blame for our lack of revenue when that is obviously false.
Furthermore, any political reporter in Arizona (who shouldn’t be fired immediately for gross ignorance) is surely aware of Prop 108, passed by voters in 1992, which requires a 2/3 majority vote of the Legislature to raise revenue. So a news person goading Rep. Clark (or Dem Governor candidate Fred DuVal, as they did relentlessly in 2014) into admitting to wanting to raise taxes appears to be doing little more than trolling for a soundbite. Democrats have zero ability to raise taxes here via the legislative process, even if all of them were shouting that they wanted to do that from the hilltops.
News people, you know exactly why Arizona is in our current predicament. Decades of tax cuts have led to insufficient revenue for the schools and other nice things for our state. It’s no inscrutable mystery so quit with the dumb act. Report on it accordingly. What you’re doing now is beneath you and annoying as hell besides.