House Minority Leader Chad Campbell was a little more hopeful this session. The state had some money to spend, and the Legislature wasn’t going to have to do as much budget-slashing as they had in previous years. Maybe now, he thought, they could start restoring some funding that had been cut.
Now that the session’s over, he’s fuming about the “lost opportunity” that it presented.
On May 14, he sat down with the Arizona Capitol Times to discuss last session and his predictions for the November elections.
Last year you said nothing good came out of the legislative session except sine die. Did you feel the same way about this session?
We had a lot of missed opportunities. Nothing really productive in terms of things we could have been addressing to help the everyday person here in Arizona.
What were some of the low points, in your opinion?
The budget, overall, is a horrible budget. We’d hoped that there would be some sort of compromise, a bipartisan budget this year. We had a surplus — we could have done a lot of good things. Instead, we ended up with this budget that really squandered the opportunity. We didn’t put money back in some of the places we could have put money back in, we continued funding private prisons, a lot of bad things.
Then you had the contraception bill and some of those other bills that were driven by the Center for Arizona Policy that are doing absolutely nothing to put people back to work or create economic development here in Arizona.
What about the tax incentive package — do you think that’s something that will do some good?
No. The capital gains tax bill is just a horrible, horrible bill. You heard the Republicans complaining every day that we didn’t have any money and we couldn’t be spending money, that long-term we’re going to have a deficit again, but we’re able to hand out $100 million. It’s just very bad policy.
The one good piece of tax policy legislation that was put forward was the personal property tax exemption. In terms of lowering that threshold, that’s a job creator, that’s a capital investment.
What was the budget process like this year? There was a period where it looked like your budget was getting some serious consideration. In the end, do you feel like you had any influence?
Ultimately, no. We had some conversations, at least, this time around. But at the end of the day, the budget that they passed doesn’t reflect anything that we had in our budget. Other than ‘Move On When Reading,’ which was in the governor’s budget as well as our budget.
It’s just a horrible budget. It doesn’t fund education adequately, doesn’t fund the hospital provider rate, it removes the oversight to private prisons, which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. It doesn’t fund KidsCare, and that’s something we hammered on this entire session. We’re the only state in the country not funding KidsCare, and I think that speaks volumes about the priorities of the governor and this Legislature.
There were a few distractions in the House this session, with Representatives Patterson and Miranda both resigning.
We had distractions this year? I didn’t notice.
Now that the session’s over, you’re looking more toward campaigning. What is your party’s strategy when it comes to this year’s elections — do you think there are things you’ll use from the past couple years?
I think the bottom line is, the GOP has overreached. I go out and talk to people, and everybody agrees with me — Democrats, independents, the majority of Republicans that I talk to that aren’t Tea Party members. They look at this Legislature and they look at the GOP, and they ask themselves, what are these guys focused on down here? I think that’s going to be the question voters are going to ask of their elected officials. And I think that, when we show the voters what the GOP has accomplished, or the lack thereof, I think it will be a pretty clear choice for voters come November.
Do you think the makeup at the Legislature is going to be significantly different next year?
Yeah, I do. I think you’re going to have a different body next year. In terms of just R’s and D’s, in terms of sheer numbers and the people themselves and their outlook and their ideological, philosophical beliefs, I think you’re going to have a change down here. I think you’re going to have people who are more focused on, hopefully, finding a common-sense approach to policymaking, rather than just an ideological approach.
How about as far as leadership goes — was it very different for you going from Kirk Adams to Andy Tobin as speaker?
Yeah, it was different. I think Kirk and I had a more communicative relationship, for lack of a better term, than Andy and I did. And that’s unfortunate. But again, moving forward, I think things are going to change down here, both in terms of the House and the Senate, and I think you’re going to have a very different group of people down here next year. I think it will be more closely resembling the Legislature that was down here when I was first elected.