K – 12 Education
Every child in Arizona deserves a high quality, free education in our public schools. Education is not only a matter of personal growth and advancement; it is the No. 1 thing we can do to improve our state’s economy. According to the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, business CEOs overwhelmingly believe that improving education must be the top priority of state and local governments. Arizona is at the bottom of states in per pupil funding. Since 2008, Arizona has made some of the largest cuts to K-12 funding in the nation -and it shows.
The Red for Ed movement has shaken up the funding debate at the Capitol, and I am so proud to have stood by our educators to demand better for them, our schools, and most importantly, our students.
When re-elected I will continue the fight alongside educators to institute permanent sources of funding so our schools do not need to go hat-in-hand to the legislature every year. Public schools statewide are struggling to fill teacher vacancies. Thousands of children are learning from long-term substitute teachers, rather than a permanent certified teacher. If we expect to recruit and sustain great teachers, we must find ways to treat them with the respect they deserve as professionals.
Universities & Community Colleges
Arizona’s higher educational system of community colleges and world class research universities are some of the State’s greatest assets. Our universities and community colleges pave the way to good careers, providing a trained workforce that attracts businesses and sustains a strong economy. Across the U.S., regions with higher concentrations of highly educated residents have less crime, less poverty, less unemployment and greater productivity.
Last year, Republican lawmakers cut community college support to zero and $99 million from universities, this year’s budget gives little back. Our state now spends more per year on prisons than we do on our universities. When elected I will fight for not just renewing funding for our universities and community colleges, but expanding education spending to invest in Arizona’s future. When we spend money on education instead of prison beds the whole community prospers.
Child Protective Services
Despite reforms in the last few years, the child welfare system in Arizona is still unable to address the desperate needs of families throughout the state. The discovery in late 2013 of over 6000 reports of child abuse and neglect that had gone uninvestigated grabbed national headlines. Bipartisan efforts helped establish the new Department of Child Safety, charged with responding to this crisis. Governor Ducey’s budget that year, however, only gave the new DCS about 2/3 of what it requested, not nearly enough to enable the Department to tackle the enormous problems Arizona’s families and children are facing.
The Department needs more case workers to adequately investigate the backlog of cases and the thousands of new reports that come into the agency every month. We have a chronic shortage of foster homes and the state has failed to provide needed services for at risk parents. Rather than finding solutions to the problems, Governor Ducey and Republicans leaders have just redefined success. I will support all efforts to improve accountability and effectiveness in the new agency. It is unconscionable that Arizona would continue to ignore those problems facing the most vulnerable in our communities.
A New Economy for A New Arizona
As a result of our proximity to ports in Mexico, our rail system and the interstate thruway of I-10, Arizona is a gateway for commerce in the southwest. Add to that our research universities and a growing high-tech sector and you have the makings of a commercial launching pad that could attract businesses from around the world.
Our abundant sunshine and innovative attitudes make us the smart choice for a solar and green energy revolution. Imagine an Arizona strong in solar panel manufacturing for the world and a thriving transportation community for the shipment of goods. Imagine an Arizona where companies like General Electric and Tesla want to locate and grow. Imagine an Arizona that is a hub of innovation with a thriving arts community where people want to live, invest, retire and recreate.
Sadly, polices being pursued by extremist republicans in the legislature are only damaging Arizona’s economic prospects. For companies looking to relocate, a top, if not the top, issue is an educated workforce. Yet the legislature insists upon cutting education funding year after year. Companies look for the freedom to innovate and expand, but when Tesla was considering Arizona as a new home, the legislature passed laws directly attacking Tesla’s business model. Innovation is the key to a thriving economy for all Arizonans.
Solar Energy Solutions
In 2008, former Governor Janet Napolitano famously said, “There is no reason that Arizona should not be the Persian Gulf of solar energy.” That statement is just as true now as it was then. The solar industry delivers quality, good paying jobs that strengthen Arizona’s economy as well as clean energy that protects our health and our planet. Arizona should be a national leader in the green economy and our Legislature can lead the way.
We've seen the influence of our utility companies grow even more since 2016, requiring the voters to use the ballot to demand clean energy! I support the Clean Energy for a Health Arizona ballot initiative because until we can elect Corporation Commissioners with integrity, we must mandate a push toward a zero-carbon grid. In my first term, I held the House Floor when APS-backed legislators tried to pass a deceptively similar initiative designed to confuse voters, but would make the renewable mandates essentially meaningless.
When re-elected I will continue to take action to counter anti-solar efforts by the Arizona Corporation Commission which appears bent on reducing solar incentives for homes and businesses. The Arizona legislature can do a lot, starting with updating its residential and commercial building energy codes consistent with federal standards. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, such updating would save Arizonans over $250 million a year by 2030. Solar saves residents and business owner’s money and fosters entrepreneurship and innovation.
Water in the Desert
All of Arizona should be following Tucson’s lead when it comes to water policy. International experts have come to Tucson to learn about our efforts to encourage water conservation and ground water protection. The University of Arizona is a leader in water-saving drip irrigation and arid land farming practices.
Water is a key issue in the world today, Arizona should be a leader in the world on investing in cost effective water saving policies. In my first term, I worked hard to prevent rollbacks of some of Arizona's most forward-looking water protection laws and when re-elected I will work to not just prevent bad changes, but enact progressive regulation that ensure a sustainable future for Arizona.
As my daughter grows older I worry about a future where she does not have control over her own health. In Arizona, our legislature continues to pass bill after bill designed to limit access to women’s healthcare. Governor Ducey even signed into law a bill that requires that doctors lie to their patients, stating that drug induced abortions can be reversed. This has been condemned as lacking any scientific basis by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
I want an Arizona where my daughter gets equal pay for equal work. I want an Arizona where she is guaranteed earned sick and safe leave so she doesn’t have to worry about losing her job just for getting sick. When elected I will fight for Arizona families to have safe, reliable healthcare options. I will fight for equality and security in the workforce. I’m fighting for my daughter’s future and that of my neighbors and my community. It is a fight I do not take lightly.
Education Funding Not More Private Prisons
One of the most devastating truths about Arizona is that we invest more in private prisons than in education. The Department of Corrections has insisted that crime is up and has convinced the State legislature that more prison beds are needed, but statistics show that both court commitments and crime are actually decreasing. The private prisons used by the state actually cost the state more than its government-owned prisons and incarceration is more expensive than treatment of drug offenders.
The Legislature must work towards ensuring that any formerly incarcerated or convicted person be given a true second chance. In my first term, I have worked hard to build a bipartisan coalition to discuss meaningful efforts such as ban the box, effective transition programs & funding resources to provide basic needs, sentencing reform, and other measures aimed at reducing Arizona's 4th highest incarceration rate. Our children are being taught that every bad behavior should be punished by a jail term and this needs to change. It’s long past time for Arizona to start spending on education rather than the department of corrections.
Common Sense Gun Violence Solutions
It seems every week we turn on the news to see another tragic loss of life from gun violence. Here in Tucson we have felt the fear and sadness that a mass shooting brings to a community. I was with my daughter at a playground on the Rillito when I heard the news that Congresswoman Giffords and 19 others had been shot. One disturbed man with easy access to a firearm was able to cast a shadow on our town that is felt to this day.
We will never be able to prevent all gun violence, but we can take steps to staunch the flow of innocent blood. Common sense reforms such as when President Obama enacted universal background checks that may help prevent more horrific events. Law abiding Arizonans deserve the right to shop for groceries, to take their family to the movies, to gather to hear their representative without fear of becoming a headline on tonight’s news. We must find lawful, common sense solutions to gun violence and not let partisan rhetoric allow one more senseless death.