Cut prison spending, not schools.
TUCSON -- As a progressive Democrat, I don't often agree with the conservative Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute (GI). However, I listen and I am fiscally responsible, with an emphasis on solving problems and helping people, and I'll bring these qualities to the State House starting Jan 12.
I must acknowledge GI for putting it's ideas before lawmakers, as it has recently done with a Dec 18 policy brief on the Arizona budget. On page 12 of the 30 page document, GI proposes cutting the Arizona Dept. of Corrections (prisons) by $96.2M, saying '...state prisons are notoriously full of nonviolent offenders, and zero-tolerance laws may well have over-stepped fiscal propriety.' I agree with this as a good start to help balance our budget, although there is much I disagree with in the rest of the GI brief.
I will work toward fairly balancing the state budget, and I won't support cuts that hurt Arizona's most at-risk people, but I have yet to hear in detail about balancing the budget from many progressive organizations that work the Capitol. I hope some are working on a plan and will get it to legislators soon.
On the lobbying side, GI may be getting out front on this number one issue for Arizona's 49th Legislature, the budget. I agree with bringing Arizona's bloated prison budgets back toward fiscal reality, and I call on progressives to step up soon with some suggested budget solutions.
The good news is the common ground for AZ prison spending reforms.
OTHER RECENT AZ LEG. TOPICS: water, education, SoAZ, new members, district 29/committees.