The most important political and human value is freedom. As a state legislator, my guiding purpose is to protect and expand personal freedom. Whether that refers to our First Amendment rights, our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, our Fourth Amendment right to privacy, or the Tenth Amendment that reserves to the States the vast majority of the powers, too many in government have lost sight of our Constitution and our rights. Part of my role as a State Legislator will be to fight to restore these rights and make the expansion of liberty our mission.
Government doesn’t create jobs, but it can encourage or destroy job creation depending on the policies it pursues. As your state representative, my goal is to pursue policies that attract businesses from other states and encourages our existing businesses to grow. I also intend to pay particular attention to policies that will help rural Arizona grow. Our economy is different from the one in Maricopa County, and the recovery in Arizona is much slower in our part of the state.
As a member of the House Education Committee, I understand the importance of providing Arizona's children with a first class education. I support higher teacher pay and putting more dollars directly into classrooms. This year I was proud to support the biggest increase in school funding in state history -- without raising taxes. Higher state revenues from economic growth coupled with an extension of the current .6% sales tax for education, and billions of dollars from Prop. 123 over the next 10 years will provide a steady stream of income to continue higher funding levels for Arizona's schools. But good schools involve more than higher spending. Better educational outcomes require higher academic standards for students and higher professional standards for teachers. Student success is strongly correlated with parental involvement in their children's education. That's why I support more freedom for parents to choose the best school and educational program for their child. Higher funding and expanding parental choice is the right choice for Arizona.
Criminal justice reform is the civil rights issue of our time. Public safety is the first duty of government, but Arizona has developed an expensive and ineffective criminal justice system that fails to rehabilitate many offenders. Arizona has the 4th highest incarceration rate in the nation, and a recidivism rate approaching 40%. The Department of Corrections has the third largest budget in our state government - 1.1 billion dollars per year. The high cost of our prison system denies funding to other compelling needs. Our high recidivism rate is tied directly to excessively long mandatory sentences, inadequate drug treatment and mental health treatment in our prisons, and lack of support for offenders reentering society. To address these issues, I co-founded a Bipartisan Study Group on Criminal Justice Reform in the state legislature. We are conducting research and drafting legislation that will bring needed reforms to Arizona's harsh and ineffective criminal justice system.
I really appreciate the hard work that Representative Noel Campbell has done, trying to get a handle on the proliferation of drug rehab centers in Prescott. I look forward to working with him to deal with this issue and to finding the right balance between helping those in need and protecting the safety and quality of life of those living here.
Every election season the politicians promise to solve this problem and then fail to act. It isn’t complicated, it is a simple matter of enforcing our existing laws, securing the border with double fences, high speed roads, cameras/sensors, and manpower, and ensuring that sanctuary cities are prohibited and the welcome mat for illegal aliens is rolled up and put away. There may not be much that Arizona’s State Legislature can do that it hasn’t already done, but we can continue to press for real solutions and work to ensure that Arizona taxpayers are not on the hook for the very real costs of illegal immigration.