Arizona House of RepresentativesSTATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX -- Dear Friends, The first year of the 50th Legislature began in January on a somber note, two days after the mass shooting in Tucson, where six people were killed, including U.S. District Judge John Roll and a young girl, and 13 others were wounded including our U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. One hundred days later the Legislative session ended and will be remembered for controversial Republican bills like the birther bill, the guns on campus bill, huge tax breaks to big corporations and deep cuts to our education and health-care system. Budget cuts will result in more crowded classrooms, higher college tuition, overwhelmed emergency rooms and understaffed public-safety systems. I am writing you this letter because I believe in transparency and that it is my responsibility to inform you of the outcomes of this legislative session.
Rep. Daniel Patterson (Tucson-LD29)
Rep. Daniel Patterson (Tucson-LD29)
This legislative session was an ongoing attack on the environment. Fortunately, the most outrageous bills died in the House after being voted out of the Senate. We were able to defeat bills that hinder native fish recovery and another bill that would have weakened Arizona’s voice in the transmission line siting process. I am honored to inform you that I received an A+ on this 2011 Environmental Report Card of the Arizona Legislature and Governor publicized by the Sierra Club. “A+” means that I voted pro-environment 100 percent of the time and did not miss any of the votes on bills scored. In addition, it recognizes a consistent support for environmental protection and good public policy, the strong opposition to a budget that further harms our State Park System, a bill to open up park expansion lands to mining, and several bad messages to Congress, including one objecting to protection of Grand Canyon area lands from mining. Please know I am committed to fighting for you and your priorities.
Now more than ever we must focus on growing our economy and protecting middle-class families. Gov. Jan Brewer and Republicans made their priorities clear by repeatedly giving tax breaks to their special interest friends and the rich, while middle-class families are forced to pay shoulder the burden. I believe in balanced, responsible solutions, and I will continue to fight for you. I will continue to fight to harness our natural strengths to build a strong 21st Century economy and create good-paying jobs. That includes making our state a leader in the development of solar power and renewable energy manufacturing – which not only reduces our reliance on dirty coal and foreign oil, but helps create good-paying jobs right here in Arizona.
Three people died in six months while waiting for transplant funding to be restored and I am happy to inform you that Democrats fought hard to restore transplant funding for nearly 100 Arizonans until at least 2013. But more work remains ahead of us. The Republican-approved budget cut 280,000 people off of health care and will result in 45,000 lost jobs. We must provide essential services for the most vulnerable which include a world-class education for our children.
I know that quality education is both a moral and economic issue that is key to both our state’s economic recovery and children’s future. Republicans approved massive education cuts (the budget cut $200 million from state universities, $73 million from community colleges and $180 million from K-12 education), which will increase class sizes, cut salaries for thousands of teachers and eliminate critical programs that help students get ahead in the worldwide economy. We need to prioritize our children’s future by protecting school funding. Right now Arizona spends less on our students than almost any other state in the country. I will continue to fight to rebuild the infrastructure needed to economically rebound and create incubators for economic sectors like biosciences and renewable energy through universities and community colleges that will enable our state to weather future economic downturns through the creation of high-paying jobs.
Furthermore, Republicans introduced bills that would require hospitals to check the legal status of a patient; would deny citizenship to children; would require K-12 schools and universities to check citizenship of students; would ban undocumented immigrants from buying a vehicle; and would ban undocumented immigrants from public housing. Such irresponsible immigration bills would only hurt our state economy, do nothing to address Arizona’s real immigration problems and fail to give our hard-pressed local law enforcement agencies the tools they need to keep our families safe. I believe in adopting comprehensive reform to address immigration problems in Arizona and I am proud that Democrats held Republicans accountable for irresponsible bills that failed to address Arizona’s real immigration problems.
Now more than ever, we need to hold government accountable to We the People. That’s why I am committed to serving you and holding Republicans, who control all of state government, accountable for their actions. We believe government should be honest and effective, and that we should have a right to know how our money is spent so that we can have a better quality of life and a strong future.
I have been and will continue to be a watchdog for you. We can do better on this front and we simply must. How we work together and what we do will have a lasting impact on all of us. Let’s finally get schools funded and make sure our frail and elderly get the care they need. Let’s protect the middle class, foster real job development, promote real economic growth, increase our states competitiveness to strengthen our economy and shine a light on government. And let’s do it in a dignified and respectful manner.
I am here to serve and represent you. Please know your participation and input is crucially important to me and it will help me serve you and our community better. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you ever have any questions, concerns or suggestions.
You may also want to follow me at twitter.com/RepPatterson and facebook.com/RepPatterson.
Representative Daniel Patterson (Tucson-LD29)
Arizona House of Representatives, State Capitol
Committees: Ranking Member, Energy and Natural Resources; Employment and Regulatory Affairs