Today, as we stand on the jumping off point of another state legislative session, some goals have emerged from leadership.
Water has bubbled to the top, for instance, with the need to approve a drought contingency plan or risk federal intervention. Our governor, Doug Ducey, is hoping to gather enough votes to put this challenge to bed in the required next 16 days.
At issue is the Colorado River water that is the lifeblood to much of Arizona, as well as neighboring states. Images of Lake Mead and others at extremely low water levels have driven the negotiations of which entity or state gets how much of what remains.
While water has been a matter of contention for Arizona — and the Prescott area — since statehood and the territorial days, and it is a problem that must be solved, we also urge our state’s leaders to not forget the little people.
Voting Arizonans are who put them where they are, in positions of trust and decision-making.
We are the people who will have to dig deep to pay the new $32 registration fee through the Motor Vehicle Department to pay for State Troopers’ needs.
We are who will have to pay as much as $170 million more, if the state income tax system is not fixed in the coming weeks — to bring Arizona in line with tax changes that the federal government has enacted.
We are the people who continue to pay more in sales taxes to bring Prescott’s unfunded liability down because the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System (PSPRS) of the State of Arizona is out of whack. Some fixes to the pension system have come in recent years, but prior missteps and errors continue to hang over us.
We also are the people and local governments that acted when the state would not to outlaw driving while texting or use of cellphones other than hands-free. This is how Salt River Police Officer Clayton Townsend died last week, hit by a texting driver. The time for a statewide ban was long ago; the state’s leaders must finally act on this.
And, while there are many, many other topics that need attention, such as the fight against drugs, we remind our leaders of their promises, such as the #RedForEd effort to gain raises for the state’s school teachers. On Ducey’s word those teachers are supposed to receive more increases over the next two years as part of a plan he floated — “Trust me,” he said — last year.
This session of the Arizona Legislature looks to be a good one with grand results. Our own senator, Karen Fann, on Monday will be sworn in as the Senate President. We wish her well and grant her our support.
At the same time, we realize it is not a one-woman show, and the many elected officials who will gather Monday for Ducey’s State of the State address must take seriously — collectively — the needs of their constituents.
Onward we go — in trust.