After seeking the input of the members of the Republican Caucus, we have put together a Majority Plan for the 54th Legislature. We did our best to include the ideas that had broad support from the caucus on some key issues and principles. Every session has unique challenges and opportunities. This session is marked by many important factors including severe drought, large one-time funds, concerns about ongoing revenues, questions about our election processes, the longest season of growth without a recession, a commitment to fulfill the 20x2020 plan for K-12, and significant changes in federal law that affect healthcare.
CONFORM AND REFORM
Arizona conforms its tax code to the federal tax code every year. Because Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, straight conformity would yield a windfall to the state of more than $100 million per year. Failure to reform the tax code is a de facto tax increase on the citizens of Arizona. The Legislature should not pass up this opportunity to not only prevent a tax increase but also pass meaningful tax reform.
PAY OFF DEBT
Poor fiscal decisions made in the mid-2000s spearheaded by Governor Janet Napolitano, combined with a bust in the economy, gave Arizona the deepest per capita budget deficit in
the country. To counter the budget crisis a three-year one cent tax was passed, the Capitol buildings were sold and leased back, budget gimmicks like billion-dollar plus rollovers were implemented, and major cuts were made to the state budget. Under conservative leadership, Arizona righted its fiscal ship and in recent years passed its first structurally balanced budget in over a decade. Good fiscal decisions, along with an improved business climate, have put Arizona on strong footing and allowed it to pay off some of its debt. But $900 million in K-12 rollovers are still on the books. It’s time for Arizona to pay down the
rollovers as much as possible to continue on a path of eliminating debt.
DROUGHT CONTINGENCY PLAN
It is easy to take water for granted because it has always been there for Arizonans who turn on their tap. Most people don’t realize the danger Arizona is in of losing water from the Colorado River. The Legislature has been working toward a resolution for nearly three years on what has come to be known as the Drought Contingency Plan (DCP). Legislative action will soon be needed to authorize it. As we get over this hurdle, Arizona will be better positioned to address its residential, industrial, and agricultural future.
CORRECTIONS PAY RAISES
Corrections officers vacancies have been increasing for several years. The ratio of officers to inmates is getting more dangerous. Arizona will face a public safety crisis if it does not offer a competitive salary to attract more officers. Public safety is a nonpartisan issue, and the protection of Arizonans is a primary role of government. This issue cannot wait any longer. The Legislature needs to make corrections pay raises a top priority.
INCREASE THE RAINY DAY FUND
Arizona has enjoyed its longest season of growth without a recession. There are no indicators Arizona’s strong economy is faltering, but everyone agrees that a recession will eventually come. Arizona needs to better prepare for an eventual recession by increasing the size of the Rainy Day Fund to approximately 7% of the budget.
Since the recession, and with the leadership of Governor Ducey, Arizona has made significant investments in K-12 education. Last session, a commitment was made to increase teacher pay 20 percent by 2020. To fulfill this commitment and to continue to adequately fund K-12 education, Arizona must be fiscally wise and prudent in years 2019 and 2020.
These were some of the top issues among the caucus, but members will be introducing many important bills this session in every area of law including healthcare, criminal justice reform, elections, transportation, tax policy, public safety, commerce, veterans, technology, education, agriculture, water, international affairs, and regulatory reform.
As Republicans we are united by the principles we share and our desire for all Arizonans to thrive and succeed. We are the party of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Under Republican leadership, Arizona has reduced its debt, balanced its budget, reduced regulations, increased its credit score, improved the business climate, and dramatically increased funding for education.
We have seen gains and moved Arizona in the right direction as we have implemented good policy consistent with our values. Working together as a majority we will continue to propel Arizona forward.