Home / 2011 Session Wrap / GOP-led Legislature focused on ‘sideshows,’ not mainstream agenda

GOP-led Legislature focused on ‘sideshows,’ not mainstream agenda

If this unfortunate legislative session has to be remembered in years to come, it will be recalled as a time that politicians put sideshows ahead of seriousness. Birther bills, birthright citizenship, and tea party license plates are great at getting partisan activists riled up. They do nothing to address the everyday challenges that are facing Arizonans – a struggling economy, a broken public education system and high rates of crime. It is for their inaction on these fronts that this Legislature will be remembered.

The greatest deficit Arizona is currently facing is in leadership. So it is important that we not only call out Russell Pearce’s Republican legislators for what they did wrong, but show what a mainstream agenda would mean to Arizona:

• A Stronger Economy: After five years of the worst job loss in Arizona history, the Legislature still has not passed a comprehensive economic recovery plan that would help businesses create, not shed, jobs – and a corporate tax cut that takes effect three years from now doesn’t count. With investments, incentives and tax cuts, we could be making Arizona the nation’s “entrepreneurial economy” – the place known for throwing open the door to start-ups and new ventures that are the greatest engine of job creation. We should become the solar state – what Silicon Valley is to computers or Motor City was to cars. Much of this could be done without spending new money. All of it would pay for itself much faster than a new round of tax cuts geared toward the very few.

Unfortunately, the reasonable voices in the business community have been all but ignored in this Legislature. That’s why this week we held the first meeting of our Business and Entrepreneurship Council. We invite business leaders – Democrats, Republicans and independents – to join us in a serious, adult conversation about how we can turn Arizona’s economy around.

• Safer Streets: With Arizona facing the highest property crime rates in America, the Legislature has been forcing our local governments to take cops off our streets. We should instead be making it easier to recruit new police officers and firefighters and give them the tools they need on the job.

• Better Schools: The unnecessary slashing cuts to education – from kindergarten through college – will leave Arizona in an economic hole for years to come. Arizona is already near the bottom on many education measurements. This is a crisis and should be treated as one. We should be working with business, education, and community leaders on an emergency education agenda that combines resources and reform to bring higher standards and more accountability to our schools, more decision-making power to parents and teachers, and a real opportunity to the kids who are our state’s future.

• Fiscal Responsibility and Reform: As the Goldwater Institute’s Byron Schlomach put it, this year’s budget was “long on reshuffling and short on fundamental reform.” Clearly cuts were needed to state government, but rather than using the budget crisis as a smokescreen to pursue an ideological agenda, the Legislature should have used it as an opportunity to fundamentally change the way state government works by making it work better and waste less. Other states have been cutting away layers of bureaucracy, empowering their citizens with more decision-making power and bringing real accountability. We should do the same.

For mainstream and middle-class Arizonans, this session produced very little other than local tax increases, more dangerous communities, higher health care costs, and larger class sizes for their kids. On the other hand, fringe extremists got just about everything on their wish list. That balance needs to change. With redistricting on the horizon, Arizona has the best chance to do so in a generation. A mainstream, big-tent Democratic Party is ready to make common cause with independents and fed-up Republicans to change that balance.

— Andrei Cherny is chairman of the Arizona Democratic Party.


  1. Monday morning Quaterbacking, anyone can do that Andrei. The problem was, during the session your team was silent except for their usual litany of tax increases, more spending, and more regulations.

    The facts are that the NFIB gave this legislature very high marks for being pro business, you know Andrei, those are the folks who actually create jobs, the NFIB. In fact I highly doubt there is any business interest in the state with a complaint against this session (although you may get some about the Governor’s veto of of SB1041).

    And if your only answer to education is more money (which is what we have always heard from your team), then I doubt the voters will be paying much attention in 2012 (especially since they are the ones paying for those dear school children who tore up the TUSD School Board meeting room while Professor Ward Churchill and little Ruben Gallego looked on smiling). That must be some education we’re paying for in Tucson.

    As for safer streets? How about getting all those armed undocumented “job hunters” off the streets and either back in Mexico or in prison? Oh that’s right, your team wants to shackle law enforcement in favor of the “guest workers” who tote AK47s right Andrei?

    And Andrei, how about some honesty for a change? What you are calling “mainstream” “middle class” are in fact SEIU and other assorted union members, not the good folks who rejected your suggestions in 2010 and, in all likelyhood will continue to reject what your team has to offer.

    Andrei, perhaps when you guys come up with some real solutions, and don’t spend Arizona into oblivion as you did under the Queen of Homeland INsecurity, maybe, just maybe, someone will take you seriously. Until then, you’ll continue fielding such key players as little Ruben Gallego and the Sobbing Katy Hobbs. With leadership like that, 2012 ought to be a barrel of laughs for you.

  2. Harris Shirley – Excellent points!

  3. Shirley,

    If you are the quarterback, your team is going to lose, big-time, in 2012. Talk about usual litany stuff. How about taxes are too high? The tax rates in this country are at a historical low. How about open and honest government? It is a joke in Arizona. I guess that you were raised to attack people who believe in open, honest, and accountable government; and civil discussion, debate, and leadership.

    1. Your team doesn’t even bother to defend all the deregulation that has led to the recession of 2008. Explain the bank failures in AZ; some folks start a new bank under AZ law, rent a vacant fast food restaurant, put a banner declaring that they will give you $50 every time you refer a new customer, get covered by the FDIC, get a bunch of suckers,, spread the cash around to owners and their friends and families, file bankruptcy, go to the Bahamas (or wherever those people go), and stick the taxpayers to pay off the investors.
    2. Your team spouts drivel like, “it is the wealthy that creates jobs; big businesses must be given tax breaks; developers must have cheap credit, no regulations, no responsibility for amenities in communities, and so on, and so on”. That comes from drinking the cool-aid (I don’t want to malign a historic Americana drink by spelling it correctly).
    3. Your team doesn’t even worry about explaining the astonishing increase in the wealthy, the stagnation of the middle class, and the throwing the poor under the bus. You whine about high business tax rates, but forget about the fact that there aren’t any businesses that actually pay that rate; it is too easy to get exemptions and tax breaks.
    4. You either don’t notice (or are really cheering) for the power grab of the AZ Legislature: They took the money from the fees for the state parks, they mortgaged the capitol and other buildings (then they start a campaign to raise money from school children to put gold on the capital building, which we don’t even own anymore). They took money from cities, counties, government districts; and then tried to totally prevent local governments (those closest to the people; remember) from being able to ask their own residents for more money when needed.
    5. I guess you are proud that the legislature devoted some 30 hours in the Senate and 24 hours in the house getting the budget through. No input from the public, closed door meetings, and total steamrolling the process. They really had to focus since they spent so much time doing the fun stuff—for them. They had a field day changing all the rules for HOAs, adopting the state gun (even though it is unconstitutional and was crammed through in the wee hours of the morning), and a bunch of bills that they could “bully” through just to pander to the tea party people.
    6. You are right that our answer to better education is more money. THE RIGHT TO EDUCATION IN THIS STATE IS IN THE CONSTITUTION. The Legislature took money from higher education where the backbone of their budget is federal student grants and loans, then yell at the feds for spending too much on education. That is called hypocrisy.
    7. You beat dead horses right and right. The borders are safer, illegals are on the decline. The streets are safer. I know you aren’t interested in data or facts. You deal with emotions and perceptions that can be manipulated by the greedy people.
    8. There is a reason that Unions are legal in this country. They were created to counter the cronyism, the greed, the corrupt politicians and the corporations that do whatever they want to keep us in our place.
    9. Who cares about the people drinking unsafe water, contaminated food, having a pig farm next to your house in an urban area, and banks ripping people off?

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