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Conservative Goldwater Institute rates GOP lawmakers over Democrats in votes upholding liberty

A conservative advocacy group’s report card on how Arizona lawmakers uphold its definition of liberty rates every Republican ahead of every Democrat in both houses of the Legislature.

The Goldwater Institute, a nonprofit organization that like its namesake promotes limited government and free-market principles, based its grades on 305 floor votes during the 2009 session. Its analysis looked at bills dealing with education, taxes and budget, regulation and constitutional government.

Sen. Ron Gould, a Lake Havasu City Republican who received the group’s highest score, said he’s proud to rein in regulation and government expansion.

“It’s good to be recognized when you stand for the principles of freedom and of the people that elected you,” he said.

Sen. Linda Lopez, a Tucson Democrat who received the institute’s lowest score among senators, said the Goldwater Institute’s principles line up closely with the Republican Party’s. She said that supporting public education and government programs that help people in need, both ideas she agrees with, were negatives in the group’s report.

“Their standards of liberty don’t align with my standards of liberty,” Lopez said.

Andrea Woodmansee, a senior editor for the Goldwater Institute, said the group is nonpartisan and tried to be as broad and objective as possible in creating its 2009 Legislative Report Card.

“If we weighted bills or had a narrow selection of bills we would be more open to that criticism,” she said.

If a bill was determined by the institute to increase education freedom through privatization, keep government in bounds, roll back government regulation of business or reduce taxes, votes in favor got lawmakers higher grades and votes against lowered grades. If the group considered a bill as doing the reverse, votes against got lawmakers higher grades and votes in favor lowered grades.

Woodmansee said the large number of bills considered and the report’s methodology prevented cherry-picking that would favor a particular party.

“It’s just letting the chips fall,” she said. “And this time the Republicans came out ahead of the Democrats.”

In 2008, two Republicans in the state House ranked behind some Democrats in the group’s report card.

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