From Konya and beyond.
KONYA, TURKEY -- First a quick update on the Arizona budget, then an update from Turkey.
Recent statement from AZ House Democratic Leader Rep. David Lujan of Phoenix: “This morning I had a brief discussion about the budget with Gov. Brewer and other caucus leaders. I expressed to the Governor and to Republican leadership that Democrats are always willing to work together toward a bipartisan budget solution. Democrats are happy to negotiate the revenue issue with the Governor in the context of the larger budget package as there are certain areas we feel need changed. I look forward to continuing discussions with the Governor and our colleagues over the weekend and next week to address those concerns and work toward a bipartisan budget solution for a stronger Arizona.”
I haven't talked with Lujan about this so I'm not exactly sure what it means, and it could be interpreted to mean just about anything. I will respectfully share my view that it would be a mistake for my fellow lawmakers to support GOP Gov. Jan Brewer's sales tax increase desires due to the unfairness and regressive nature of it. Sales tax in AZ is already too high and addiction to the volatile sales tax is a big part of what got the state in to this budget mess in the first place. We certainly need to raise more revenue, but in a smart and fair way, and more sales tax increases are simply not wise or fair.
Now, from Turkey.
We've been having a great trip visiting historic sites and Turkish leaders. Everyone has been very kind and welcoming to us wherever we go. We are now in the central Turkish city of Konya, having traveled from coastal cities of Antalya, Izmir and Istanbul.
It is now the Muslim holy month of Ramadan here and people are fasting everyday until dark. Mosques are everywhere and the call to prayer we hear echoing through the streets five times a day is calming and slightly haunting at the same time. It certainly reminds me we are a long way from home.
Istanbul is a huge thriving metropolis of 13M+ people, the biggest city in Europe. The place is buzzing 24/7 and the economy seems stronger than the US right now. The history here is also amazing as this has been the crossroads of civilizations for thousands of years.
Izmir is a big city southeast of Istanbul. We visited some awesome ruins and artists in the area.
Antalya is a historic city on the southern Turkish coast which is now also a major beach resort, a sort of Las Vegas of Turkey but on the ocean.
Today we traveled through big mountains inland to Konya. The mountains reminded me very much of the Sky Islands around Tucson. Tomorrow we will visit more sites and local people.
In Turkey we have been very busy, on the go, and not sleeping much. We are meeting with many Turks and representing Arizona with respect and honor. Four other Arizona legislators are with me here. There is much interest from the friendly and smart people here toward Arizona due in part to the similarities between the two places. Turkey is a rising global power and an important friend to America in this part of the world.
I wish I had more time now to write more but I don't. When I have more time I will try to cover our Turkey experience more here and post photos. Given the intense schedule of this great trip it may have to wait until I am home in sweet Tucson. Check RepPatterson on twitter for other possible updates.