Every child in Arizona deserves a quality education provided by trusted and valued teachers in a safe and secure environment. Currently, Arizona ranks 49th in per-pupil spending within the United States. While throwing money at a given problem should never be a first course of action, additional funds are needed to address drastic budget cuts to education over the last several years. These same cuts (to pre-2008 levels) have lead to outdated technology and textbooks, crumbling buildings, large classrooms, and a dwindling population of overworked and underpaid teachers - all indicative of the lack of priority given to the task of educating our children.
Child/ Family Welfare
Establishment of the newly formed Department of Childhood Safety has been an unmitigated failure to date. Currently, there is roughly a 19,000 case backlog of children under state protection with no understanding as to how many children are in imminent danger, nor is there an estimate as to when or how this backlog will be addressed. This situation is unacceptable and must be fixed immediately via the appropriation of funds for additional caseworkers. Further, legislative cuts during the 2015 session of TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) to a one year lifetime maximum benefit were unjustly cruel, leaving 1,600 families (including 2,700 children) without benefits as of July 1, 2016. The moral implications of allowing children to go hungry in Arizona not withstanding, hungry children are not capable of learning in a classroom environment. These cuts must be reversed.
There is a positive correlation between investment in education and economic output - education and jobs are inextricably linked. By investing in education, as opposed to corporate tax subsidies (with no quantifiable evidence of return on investment), employers with demand for highly skilled workers will inevitably be drawn to Arizona. Further, business executives are often parents themselves, looking for great school districts in which to enroll their own children, as well as the children of their employees. From an economic (and individual) perspective, it just makes sense to make a long-term investment in our educational system.
As a healthcare administrator, I understand how hard it is to obtain and retain Arizona educated medical care providers. As we face provider shortages, especially in the area of Primary Care, work must be done to incentivize physicians and other providers to furnish care here in Arizona. It makes zero sense to invest in a physician's education, only to lose them to neighboring states with more competitive salaries/ benefits.
Elected officials must be held to high ethical standards. The Legislature should not be utilized as a platform for personal financial enrichment. This said, members of the State Legislature should be prohibited from accepting gifts of any kind. Further, profiting from sponsored and co-sponsored legislation should be flatly prohibited. Any and all conflicts of interests should be self-reported as they are identified.