After the toughest week of the session so far, last week was tame in comparison. Call it the calm before the storm of budget season, which could be upon us. Or it could not. Who knows?
People ask me all the time how the budget is coming along. Unfortunately, the majority doesn’t tell us much, but we do hear rumors and gossip all the time. The fabled 100-day mark of the session is coming up this week, which usually means legislative leadership and the governor’s office want to adjourn soon. I’ve heard that we could see a budget this week or next…AND I’ve heard we may not be out until Memorial Day. I’d guess it’s somewhere in the middle, around mid-May.
According to sources, most of the budget is figured out. Of course, these conversations are only taking place between the Republican caucus and the governor’s office, and they don’t include Democrats. We have a very small surplus available, and leaders from the House and the Senate have been meeting for weeks to determine which priorities receive top billing (K-12 education, health care, transportation, Prop 206 relief for the developmentally disabled community, and so on). Once they have the votes, meaning 16 Senators and 31 House members, they will start moving. We haven’t seen that yet, so negotiating is still going on.
The biggest hang up continues to be the governor’s bonding proposal for the state universities. I support this proposal, provided we can protect our cities from budgetary harm. In all honesty, there are probably more Democrats who support the governor’s proposal (with the city adjustment) than Republicans, so it will be interesting to see if the governor can get members of his own party on board. I’m happy to work with Governor Ducey if he needs a hand, because I know first-hand how important our universities are to our state’s economic growth.
I attended two school board meetings last week – Mesa Public Schools on Tuesday, and Chandler Unified on Wednesday. I have now officially visited board meetings for each of the five school districts I represent at the capitol! It’s a habit I will continue to pursue throughout my term, as I feel it’s important to talk to our local school board members and community officials about the work we do at the state capitol.
More events coming up this week, including another school visit in Tempe on Friday. Stay tuned to next week’s update for photos!
I received a lot of feedback on my update last week, which focused on the behind the scenes story of what happened with SB 1431, the legislation that expanded vouchers statewide. I was very down and morose after that happened, and my writing last week reflected that.
Thank you to everyone who reached out – your kind words and support meant a lot. As I said in my speech explaining my vote, I knew it would be a watershed day in the history of our state, but not for good reasons. I’ve talked to dozens of teachers, educators, and parents since that vote, and every single of them has shared my concerns. It was the most common thing I heard during the Easter parade in Ahwatukee on Saturday – people are really concerned about the impact this legislation is going to have on our outstanding public schools in LD18.
The Ahwatukee Foothills News published a story that used part of my update last week, and they used the word “despondent” in the title to describe me. That’s not the word I would use to describe my state of mind last week, but I understand that reaction. Reflecting now as I type this, a week and a half after the vote, I remain upset about the bill’s passage, and the governor signing it into law. However, if anything, it has rekindled my desire to keep fighting for our district’s public schools, and work to make sure we elect more candidates who share that same passion.
I have a job to do, and now that the voucher fight is over, it moves on to the state budget, and other issues. The reason I ran for office in the first place was to protect and support our public schools, and they need our help and persistence more than ever.
District Snapshot – A special edition of my trips throughout the district last week!
One of my favorite events each year is the Ahwatukee Easter Parade. I first marched in the parade in high school, when I attended Mountain Pointe and was involved in theater. Our musicals were usually held the week or two after Easter, so it was an opportunity for us to march in our costumes and perform numbers from the show.
I’ve also marched in recent years, for other candidates and causes (and myself last year as a candidate). This year was the first time I participated as an elected official, and it was a real delight. I rode in a classic convertible car, the second one in the procession (immediately after Mr. Ahwatukee himself!), and I enjoyed it very much. As I waved and wished the crowd a Happy Easter, I heard people cheering me on and thanking me for the work I am doing at the legislature. I saw supporters and longtime friends in the crowd, and it was really a special, special feeling!
You can bet I’ll be in the parade again next year, and every year I am fortunate to represent Ahwatukee at the legislature!
As always, you can follow me on Facebook and on Twitter for more up to the minute updates. I appreciate all of your help and support – if you can, please consider showing your support today so I can keep fighting for our values and priorities at the state capitol. It is an honor to represent you in the state senate!
Yours in the fight,