As your state senator, my most important priority is to help restore education funding and protect our local public schools and state universities.
This is personal for me. My family first moved to our community over twenty years ago, drawn to our local public schools and quality way of life. I once sat in the same classrooms that now have larger class sizes, outdated textbooks, and overworked and underpaid teachers.
Our legislature has failed to invest and protect our local schools. When given the opportunity, they have chosen to use state resources on things like for-profit prisons, tax cuts for corporations that never asked for them, and money for special interests.
Those are not the priorities of our community, and they are definitely not mine. As your state senator, I pledge to:
Make education my number one budgetary priority. Budgets are about priorities, and when voting on the state budget, nothing will be as important to me as investing in our schools. The cuts our schools have seen since 2008 are devastating and catastrophic; I will work diligently with both sides of the aisle to restore the cuts to our K-12 schools and strengthen our commitment to education.
It's why I voted YES on the budget earlier this year - I viewed it as the first step in a long term commitment to restoring education funding. Many of the school districts in our community are giving teachers and support staff ten percent raises because of our budget - good news, with more work needed in future years.
With Arizona currently ranked 49th in starting salaries for our K-12 teachers, further action needs to be taken to better support them and strengthen their impact on the next generation of Arizonans.
Prioritize our teachers and make investments in our classrooms. Arizona lags far behind the national average in teacher salaries. If we are serious about strengthening our education system and keeping our best teachers, we need to show them we are committed to their success. Through investing in our teachers, we can strengthen our K-12 schools and grow our economy. As your Senator, I will continue to promote education and support funding for our teachers and resources in their classrooms.
Our 2018 budget was a step in the right direction, but more work is needed to make sure our best teachers and educators stay in the classroom. I'm working diligently with our local superintendents and school boards to make sure that state dollars are staying in the classroom, not for more administration.
Restore the cuts to higher education. This is also personal for me. I saw the effects of budget cuts every day when I worked in the Provost’s office at ASU. I helped work to make college more affordable for low-income families, increased resources for first-year students, and expanded access to people all across the globe.
Since 2008, Arizona has cut more from higher education than any state in the country, a cut of nearly 50 percent. This has led to drastic increases in tuition, fees, and other costs. I graduated from ASU in 2008; since then, tuition has almost TRIPLED.
This unnecessary and excessive reduction in higher education investment is having a dramatic impact on our state, both economically and culturally. Our state simply cannot compete in a 21st-century economy by reducing investment in our state universities. As your state senator, I am fighting every single day for our universities, and working with them to strengthen our local economy.
Community colleges are important for me as well - we currently don't fund our community colleges in Maricopa County at the state level at all. Investing in our workforce and our community colleges is key if we want to have an educated workforce.
Along with education, strengthening our economy and encouraging investment and job growth is a top priority of mine.
Stopping the giveaways to special interests and corporations. Arizona has spent far too much money over the years in giveaways to special interests and corporations, with little to show for the generosity. Our state still lags the rest of the county in economic well-being, educational outcomes, and investment.
Instead of steering more money to tax cuts, I believe our focus should be on investing in our economic future. That includes investing in our schools, promoting tax reform to help provide a more stable source of state revenue for future years, and stopping the blank checks to the for-profit prison industry.
Promoting a culture of inclusiveness and hospitality. Arizona has received a fair share of negative attention over the years as a result of the actions of our legislature.
As your state senator, I am fighting for policies that roll out the welcome mat for Arizona businesses and their employees, and avoid the partisan rhetoric that our legislators exhibit each session. For example, one of my main priorities at the capitol will be to pass an Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), so that our LGBT friends do not need to worry that they will lose their jobs or their homes because of their sexual orientation. It’s upsetting to me that this policy isn’t already in place, and I’ll fight to make sure it is.
We must secure the border. I support giving our border patrol agents the resources they need to protect our state and our border. Above all, I will listen to the law enforcement community from our county sheriffs to local police and provide them with the tools they need to do their jobs effectively. I will also work with our federal congressional delegation to ensure that Congress funds our border efforts.
I am a strong supporter of the second amendment, and I will protect the rights of gun owners already in place at the state level. I do not, however, support allowing guns on college campuses or in government buildings. Additionally, I agree with the vast majority of gun owners and support requiring background checks for all gun purchases to ensure that firearms do not fall into the hands of criminals or those with mental health issues.
Save the Lakes
As an Ahwatukee resident, and as someone who attended Mountain Pointe High School next door, I strongly support saving the lakes property. I do not support housing development on the land, and will work to protect the space as a public park or golf course. I will work with the city of Phoenix and other stakeholders to ensure that this space is protected from development.