The top 3 issues facing Arizona in 2017: Local legislators share their views

State Sen. Karen Fann and Representatives Noel Campbell and David Stringer offer their thoughts on what top three issues Arizona is facing. In alphabetical order, here they are.

Rep. Noel Campbell

I will be focusing this legislative session on these top three issues:

Economic opportunity and competitiveness begins with world-class infrastructure. Studies show every dollar spent on infrastructure returns three dollars in economic development. Therefore, as chairman of the House Transportation Committee, my main focus will be to secure funds to rebuild our state’s highways, roads, and bridges –especially in rural Arizona. When businesses have efficient ways to move their products to markets and workers spend less time in traffic, society prospers.

Problems with unregulated structured sober living homes continue in LD-1 and beyond. Therefore, I will introduce a bill dealing with patient brokering. Right now, unscrupulous recovery homes often pay brokers to bring out-of-state clients here. When these clients then fail out of the programs for a myriad of reasons, they remain in our community with no support, contributing to our homeless and taxing our social services.

Public pension debt is crushing not only Prescott, but now many cities across Arizona. And continued abysmal trust fund returns threaten the economic vitality of our entire state. Prop 124 was just a first step in solving our pension debt, and so I pledge to work with other reform minded legislators to find long-term, sustainable solutions to this crisis.

Sen. Karen Fann

2016 was certainly a roller coaster and 2017 might prove to be one again. The three top priorities I will be working on are as follows:

Education. We were fortunate in passing Prop 123 to get immediate funding into our education system. But this was only a first step. We need to come up with a permanent funding source for all education including public, charter, private, full-day kindergarten, higher ed and JTED training.

Health Care has become a huge issue, particularly for rural Arizona. With the possibility of Obamacare being repealed, it is essential the leadership in Arizona has a say in how to protect and insure our citizens. My personal preference is to see each state have the ability to set up health care programs based on what’s best for their residents, and to support the concept of insurance companies competing in all states to give the most options for everyone.

Reducing regulation for businesses is one issue I am really excited about. Over the past eight years, the many new regulations have cost our economy billions of dollars and the loss of millions of jobs which has hurt our ability to compete globally. Our goal in Arizona is to be the number one state in the nation to start and grow businesses. With the ability to reduce regulation on federal and state levels, we can achieve those goals.

Rep. David Stringer

There is a long list of important issues coming before the State Legislature this year. But three of the most important include education, transportation, and judicial reform. As a member of the Education and Judiciary committees, I hope to play a key role in advancing this agenda.

Governor Ducey has promised to make education funding a top priority. He will be well supported by Republican legislators. But money alone will not buy better schools. Across the state, the changing demographics of Arizona’s student population presents huge language and cultural challenges to our traditional government schools. As a member of the Education Committee, I will support more classroom dollars and more competitive teacher pay. But I will also seek to tie higher pay to better student outcomes, more disciplined classrooms, and expanded school choice for families who want other options for their children.

Our transportation system in Yavapai County was designed for a smaller population. Key arteries such as 1-17 and Highway 69 are frequently bottlenecked. This is not only an inconvenience for residents and visitors, but has become an impediment to economic development. I will work with Rep. Noel Campbell, who will chair the House Transportation Committee, in finding solutions to this problem. President-elect Trump’s promised infrastructure program may provide a funding source. We also need to look at the increasing number electric and hybrid vehicles on the road today that are beginning to hurt revenues from our state gas tax.

Protecting public safety is the first duty of government. No one wants dangerous criminals on the street. But Arizona’s prisons house many non-violent offenders. In fact, Arizona has one of the highest incarceration rates in the nation. Currently Arizona spends over a billion dollars a year on corrections –more than 10 percent of our state budget. Alternatives such as mental health treatment, expanded drug treatment, intensive supervision with electronic monitoring, half-way houses and work release can provide more cost effective forms of rehabilitation without compromising community safety. I will support efforts to reduce the cost of prisons and seek more productive uses for our limited state resources.