On the Issues
I strongly believe that parents -- not bureaucrats in Washington or Phoenix -- know what is best for their children and should have the freedom to make educational decisions for their kids. Today, Arizona leads the nation in school choice options for families, but we can do more. Whether it is through open-enrollment, our excellent charter schools or through the use of one of Arizona’s private school tax credit programs, we need to continue to expand options for all families. I was proud to support the state’s first Educational Savings Account program, giving parents of disabled children the ability to choose the best educational environment for their child. I will continue to fight the bureaucrats who put administrators ahead of students. We also need to properly support our teachers, by insisting that the money be spent where it belongs… in the classroom!
In just the last few years, Arizona’s pro-growth policies have started to make a big difference. Arizona is now expected to lead the nation in job growth, and we’re at the top or near the top in a host of economic measurements, including best states to start a business. This is good news, and it shows that we’re doing the right thing. But there is a sad reality for Arizonans, and that is that economic growth is not spread evenly throughout the state. I live in the Yuma portion of our district and our unemployment rate is often four times higher than the state average. That is why I work with other legislators to find opportunities that are especially well-suited to rural counties. As the only member of the majority who actually comes from Yuma, it is my responsibility to ensure that no one is forgotten just because of their distance from the State Capitol.
As your State Senator and Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I am particularly proud of the job we have done on our state budgets. We had to make some tough decisions, decisions we did not make lightly, but for years our state has been spending more money than it has been bringing in. So we changed how we did things and we produced real balanced budgets, without the accounting tricks, gimmicks and loans they used to use. Along with several other conservatives, I stood up for the taxpayers, and insisted on cutting spending and produced a truly structurally balanced budget, meaning we spent less than we took in. In these tough times, every Arizona family has had to do this, and our government needed to do the same. Thankfully, Arizona is finally on the road to economic recovery. Where a couple of years ago we had record deficits and politicians just “kicking the can” down the road, we held the line, made the tough decisions and turned our old $3 Billion deficit into a large surplus.
The first step to solving illegal immigration is to enforce existing laws. We have to end sanctuary city policies, end catch-and-release by law enforcement, and start enforcing proper identification standards for obtaining drivers’ licenses, bank accounts, and social services – all of which can be addressed with our existing laws. We need to demand enforcement of those laws by our local, state and federal government – and we need to stop looking the other way. The cost of illegal immigration to Arizona taxpayers alone is almost $2 Billion a year, and that is unacceptable. Border security is also national security. We live in a dangerous time and in a dangerous world. Drug cartels and human traffickers have invaded our communities and terrorists recognize how vulnerable we are along our borders. We must not wait any longer. Our border must be secured using whatever means necessary.
I am honored to represent the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma and Luke Air Force Base in Maricopa’s West Valley. Our military personnel and their families are the heroes of this nation. We send them into harm’s way and we must care for them upon their return. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, there are over 500,000 veterans currently living in Arizona. We must care for those who have made such great sacrifices for our freedom. Our nation owes them an enormous debt of gratitude for their service, and we need to ensure they have the support they need, including healthcare, education benefits and vocational training. I remain dedicated to issues related to our servicemen and women. We live in the land of the free, because of the brave.
Our district has some distinct communities and differing local economies. The Yuma portion of the district has an economy that is largely driven by a $3.1 Billion agriculture industry. Agriculture is vital to Yuma’s growth and is beneficial to all Arizonans. As a member of the Natural Resources and Rural Affairs Committee, I have fought for issues of great importance to rural Arizona and to our communities. I have also worked hard with our district’s two State Representatives, Steve Montenegro and Darin Mitchell, to protect our water rights and water supply. While much of the discussion at the Capitol revolves around high-tech and “green” jobs, an even greater need is the planting and harvesting of food to feed our families. Those are the “Green” jobs I am concerned with. I am proud to promote our rural lifestyle at the legislature, and as your Senator I have enjoyed bringing state leaders to Yuma to witness firsthand how vital agriculture is, both to Yuma’s growth and development, as well as to Arizona’s overall economy.