In the aftermath of the 2018 elections, House Republicans in the Arizona State Legislature had an opportunity to change course and band with Democrats in charting a new forward direction for the people and the state.
Instead of working with Democrats on the budget and other pressing matters, they decided to consider or enact along strictly party-line measures, in the darkness, with their slim two-vote majority where they hoped most would not be watching:
- A Budget that again puts tax cuts over fully funding our schools, state infrastructure, housing assistance, health care (like dental care for pregnant women) and expanding Kids Care.
- Punishing cities like Flagstaff that dared to raise their cities minimum wage to $15.00 so their residents can better make ends meet.
- Pushing through monies to fund charlatan counselors in so-called “Crisis Pregnancy Centers” to pressure women not to exercise their constitutional rights.
- Reprimanding teachers for what they say or do rather than fully funding school resources or considering whether child abuse/assault victims could get more time to bring their attackers to justice.
- Obstacles to decimate the citizens initiative process (Vince Leaches revised SB 1451) and fair elections conducted through the Secretary of State’s Office (Speaker Bowers HB 2747 Amendment.).
- Favoring Community College districts in largely Republican held areas while providing nothing (ZERO) for Maricopa or Pima County Community Colleges while also finding a way to give a tax break to private Grand Canyon University.
When Democrats offered amendments on the floor to garner more funding to areas like education and assistance to our most vulnerable, they were largely rebuffed, again on party-line votes. This should not be surprising considering the Republicans did not invite the Democrats to negotiate on the budget with them at the beginning of the process.
This is not what the people voted for and as the Democratic speakers, like Athena Salman, Raquel Teran, and Andres Cano, indicated on the floor last night when Vince Leaches restrictive (repulsive) measure on citizens initiatives (SB 1451) came up for a vote, the people will remember and the people will overcome.
The people, in the true spirit of Democracy and what Republics are supposed to stand for, will overcome any restrictions on the initiative process and redouble their efforts on a new Outlaw Dirty Money ballot measure that gets Dark Money out of the political process. They will also overcome if it is decided that a new Invest in Ed initiative, in the wake of the legislature not fully funding public schools, is warranted.
Most importantly the people will remember.
They will remember that the Republican legislators and Governor when faced with a golden opportunity to change course and work with the Democrats, chose to cling to its reactionary tax cutting backward Koch Brother backed agenda and pass measures with some increases in vital areas like education would be enough to appease the people. It has not and the children of the state, if the Republicans in the State Senate fall in line with their counterparts in the House, will continue to go to public schools still underfunded when compared to 2008 levels when they should be taken care of with 2019 funding levels.
They will remember that the Republican legislators and Governor did not fully address the needs of the state and its citizens choosing tax cuts for the 29th time in 30 years instead of allocating more funds to public schools, infrastructure, and affordable housing.
Finally, they will remember that Republicans, knowing that the people do not support their agenda, enacted measures meant to make the Democratic voting and initiative process harder, not easier.
People will remember and overcome at the ballot box in 2020 and 2022.
Those Republicans in increasingly blueish areas of the state should get a good look around their offices at the state capital.
When January 2021 arrives, those offices will probably belong to a Democrat.