Two weeks ago the Republican Legislature wrapped up its business in only 100 days, a feat that was last accomplished over a decade ago and heralded by the media as if it was the main story line of this session. While adjourning in 100 days should be noted, the real story of the First Regular Session of the 50th Arizona Legislature was the historic reductions in state deficits and expenditures while providing additional protections for private property, school choice, border security, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom to bear arms.
Many times we hear dissatisfied voters complain that elected officials do not listen to their concerns. In Arizona, Republican lawmakers not only listened, they acted by passing groundbreaking laws to address those concerns. To that point, our conservative Republican Legislature made it their first priority to reduce out-of-control spending and clean up the financial mess created by Gov. Janet Napolitano and her nanny-state policies.
In her six years as governor, Napolitano doubled Arizona state government spending, creating unprecedented debt and future obligations. In the past three years, the Republican Legislature has rolled back general fund appropriations from $11.2 billion to $8.3 billion.
Here are just a few of their accomplishments this year:
• The Republican Legislature passed a balanced budget without additional rollovers, borrowing, fiscal gimmicks or the help of their Democrat counterparts, that eliminated a $1.1 billion-deficit this year alone and enacted legislation to further lower the tax burden on working Arizonans.
• Republican legislators passed a bill to provide vouchers for special education students and increased choice in education for all parents. The Republican Legislature, in the face of the worst recession in 75 years, maintained per-pupil funding at levels significantly above the per-pupil funding of just five years ago.
• Republicans, in the face of strong criticism from the Democrats and their union supporters, passed reforms to stabilize the state retirement systems so state employees can be assured funds will be available to fulfill the state’s commitments due upon their retirement.
• Republicans passed health insurance reform that opens the door for Arizonans to purchase policies from companies licensed in other states and, as importantly, allows Arizona-licensed companies to market policies that are stripped of unnecessary, costly policy riders not mandated in other states. (It was vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer.)
• Republicans passed bills to protect the lives of the unborn by broadening state regulation of abortion clinics, targeting Planned Parenthood’s funding and prohibiting abortion for selection of race or gender.
The fact that our Republican legislators were able to achieve these major accomplishments in only 100 days should be acclaimed by all Arizonans, regardless of party. We appreciate good governance and thank you for your good and faithful service.
— Tom Morrissey is the chairman of the Arizona Republican Party.