Issues

 

In summary, and in no particular order, here is a list of my priorities when elected as your State Senator:

Job Creation & The Economy

I want to make Arizona the most vibrant economy in the country—one that attracts companies from across America and around the world to set up shop and deliver great opportunities to our workers. But when it comes to attracting well-paying jobs that can deliver economic security to working families, we continue to fall short of our potential.

A BMO Capital Markets report ranked Arizona 30th in the country for labor conditions (measuring job growth, average weekly hours, weekly earnings and the state's jobless rate). We saw only half the job gains in 2016 that we did in 2015, and our job growth is falling below the country’s overall pace.

If we want to fulfill our true potential, we must create the right business conditions and make smart, targeted investments:

  • We need to work more closely with the private sector and local economic development organizations to bring 21st century jobs to our state. Nothing should stop Arizona—and especially our communities in the East Valley—from being centers of innovation in technology, biotech and healthcare, next-generation energy, and high-value services. Our loss of the Tesla GigaFactory to Nevada showed that we must compete more aggressively with neighboring states for these kinds of investment.
  • We need to encourage more home-grown enterprises by providing small businesses with greater access to capital and looking for ways to reduce regulatory burdens that inhibit investment and growth. At the same time, of course, we must continue to protect the health of our citizens and the environment.
  • We must diversify our export base. Today, 41% of our state’s manufacturing exports are bound for Mexico. But if our federal government becomes embroiled in a trade war with our southern neighbor, those exports will be in jeopardy. We need to attract investment from across the country and other parts of the world to diversify our economy and open up new markets for Arizona’s exports.

Education Funding

Every child in Arizona deserves a quality education provided by trusted and valued teachers in a safe and secure environment. Our children depend on it, of course, but our commitment to education is also vital to attracting high-quality jobs.  

Arizona ranks 49th in the country in per-pupil spending. Teachers are overworked and underpaid, and leaving the profession in droves. Our classrooms suffer from outdated technology and textbooks, and schools are crumbling.

Gov. Ducey and our state legislators’ promises to fix this investment gap have proven to be empty ones. Their proposed raise for Arizona teachers amounted to just 0.4% per year over the next five years. And the legislation they passed enables them to cancel this at any time.

Just as troubling, Senate Bill 1042 would dramatically lower the bar for people to qualify as teachers in our state. Chronically low pay and degrading the teaching profession is a recipe for disaster—promising to drive qualified teachers out of the profession, perpetuating our teacher shortage, and lowering the quality of our kids’ education. We’re not just playing catch-up to the rest of the country, we’re continuing to fall behind.

While throwing money at a given problem should never be a first course of action, we must invest adequately and smartly in public education. That starts in the classroom, by paying  salaries that will attract and retain professional, committed teachers.

Healthcare

The cost of healthcare is a critical challenge for families and small businesses, and has been one of the most hotly debated topics in Washington in recent years. Here in Arizona, healthcare is a critical issue for everyone, especially our children and seniors.

As a healthcare administrator myself, I understand how difficult it is for many families to access good quality, affordable health care. It’s something I see every day, and something I care about deeply.

It’s clear that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) isn’t perfect, but it was a positive step forward. A complete repeal, without a plan to address its shortcomings, would cause about 700,000 Arizonans to lose coverage. Most of those are seniors and children from low-income families—our most vulnerable citizens—many of whom rely on Medicaid.  

Having access to healthcare you can’t afford is not access at all. Without the right protections, many families will be forced to make life and death decisions—literally, choices between living and dying—based on what they earn. No-one should have to go bankrupt because they’re sick. And no-one should have to die because they’re not rich.

I will fight to protect Arizonans’ access to quality, affordable healthcare. This includes protecting those with pre-existing conditions from the dangers of skyrocketing premiums and discrimination by insurers. It means protecting the right to basic coverage, like emergency services and maternity care. And it means providing reproductive healthcare options, especially to women.

I support some of the ideas put forward by our federal leaders, such as allowing consumers to buy insurance across state lines, and negotiating more effectively with pharmaceutical companies to lower drug prices. These are smart, common sense ideas that will help address some of the critical issues facing our healthcare system.

At the same time, we need to do a better job of providing people with better preventive coverage. We need to equip them with knowledge they can use to make smart choices about their own health and well-being, as well as insurance options.

Targeted, common sense reforms like these will help make coverage affordable and accessible for individuals and small businesses alike. It’s all about striking a smart balance between promoting personal responsibility, and protecting those who need protection. These are American values. These are Arizona values.

Child Welfare & Well-Being

A recent report by the Anne E. Casey foundation ranks Arizona 46th in the nation in Child Wellbeing, above only Nevada, Louisiana, New Mexico and Mississippi.

  • A full 25% of our children live in poverty.
  • The number of Arizona children still living in state custody would fill Talking Stick Arena—despite the fact that Gov. Jan Brewer created DCS over three years ago to seriously address this problem.
  • 70% of our fourth-graders are not proficient in reading, and 65% of our eighth-graders fall short in math proficiency.  
  • Only 13 states have a higher teen-birth rate than Arizona.

Child poverty continues to be an issue, and will only continue to get worse as lack of investment in education becomes the norm. Bootstraps are only useful if parents can afford boots for their kids.

Voter Participation

Government at all levels should be of the people, by the people and for the people. But increasingly, we see our elected officials take advantage of their positions while eroding the power of our citizens. They follow their own rules: do as I say, not as I do.

Arizona has a rich history of positive change being driven by its people through ballot measures. For over 100 years, we’ve enjoyed the right to check the Legislature by passing common-sense initiatives. Ballot measures won women the right to vote in Arizona in 1912. They’re how we raised minimum wages, and banned smoking in bars and restaurants.

Ballot measures are vital to maintaining the power of the people in areas where government fails to act.

But our Republican-led government, supported by special interests and championed by my presumed opponent, is chipping away at our ability to pass these initiatives by imposing unreasonable restrictions on the process—including the font size of a petition!

They say it’s to prevent fraud. But there’s no real evidence that fraud has occurred—and they are not applying the same rigorous standards to candidate committees. It’s a thinly veiled attempt to take away Arizonans’ democratic rights and consolidate power for the few.

That’s why I’ll work with state leaders—inside and outside government, of both parties—to protect our ballot initiative process while ensuring its integrity.

Ethics Reform and “Dark Money”

In the last election, I ran as a Clean Elections candidate. That means my campaign was funded entirely by $5 donations from registered voters living in Legislative District 17.

The Clean Elections process is a good one because it reduces the influence of special interests. It forces elected representatives to remain beholden to the people—not special interest groups. And it enables us to spend less time raising money and more time listening to the people about issues that matter to them.

I am not running as a Clean Elections candidate this time around. And that’s unfortunate. But the reality is, I’m likely to be running against a candidate who has served the interests of big businesses his entire political career. JD Mesnard has promoted bills that made it more difficult for citizen initiatives to qualify for the ballot. And he has worked tirelessly to protect ‘dark money’ groups from disclosing their donors.

During the last election cycle, the Clean Elections Commission sponsored an LD-17 candidate debate. I was the only candidate for State Senate who showed up to take constituents’ questions in person. While I will be running a more conventional campaign in terms of fund raising, I am committed to putting you, the people, first—not corporations or special interests. 

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  • commented 2017-03-30 22:17:45 -0700
    Is this from the last General Election, or are you running for State Senate again in 2018?

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