Having worked around the state Capitol for many years before being elected in November, I witnessed the prosperous years when legislators fought over take-home projects for their districts. And I also saw the lean years when legislators shook every penny out of the state’s piggy bank and used debt financing and fancy accounting gimmicks just to get by.
This year was very different.
In just 100 days, we made sweeping changes, advocated for real reforms and had the political will to make historical, decisive decisions at the Arizona Legislature.
This Legislature exhibited the political courage to balance the state’s budget and tackle the state’s fiscal problems at their very core.
The state budget we passed was an honest budget. It was the first structurally-balanced budget in at least five years. We resoundingly said “no” to new borrowing and debt financing. And we met our campaign promises to downsize government, which meant $1 billion in cuts.
Term limits have often caused elected officials to look at fiscal policies within a limited timeframe in the “now.” Yet, as stewards of Arizona’s taxpayer dollars, we have the important responsibility to properly plan for and fund future generations. Our fiscal policies should always be forward-looking and ensure Arizona’s financial stability.
No other policy we passed this year was more forward-looking than the significant reforms made to our state pension systems.
For so many years, we ignored the piled-on promises of our state retirement benefits that could never have been met in the continued downturn of our economic climate. With these new pension reforms, we put a stop to the abuses in the system such as “double-dipping” and we modified state elected official benefits to more closely align with what rank-and-file state employees receive.
The Legislature also successfully passed a comprehensive competitive jobs package with the goal of bringing back a robust economy, revitalizing our business landscape, and revving up much needed revenues in Arizona.
This jobs bill was bold. Encompassing the largest permanent tax cut in our state’s history, the jobs bill not only laid the groundwork for diversifying our economic base, it opened the door for new companies to come to the state and expand, and made provisions to keep the vitality of our existing businesses, both large and small. All of which will ensure high-quality jobs for Arizona residents to get back to work.
Additionally, we took a careful look at cutting the cost of expensive entitlement programs that have continued to deplete our state funds, and we passed a resolution for voters to revisit the wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars for political campaigns.
The decisions we made this year were dynamic and decisive. Our decisions were fiscally responsible.
Finally, we can say we looked beyond today and began the path for a more prosperous tomorrow.
— Kimberly Yee is a Republican representative from Legislative District 10.