Most of us still believe in the American dream. We believe that if you work hard, you can raise a family, own a home, send your kids to college, and set aside money for retirement. That dream has faded for Arizonans. Hard work no longer brings the assurance of success it once did. There is a need for a renewal of fairness and balance.
Governor Brewer has taken credit for balancing the budget. But the state budget was balanced on the backs of the poor and middle-class by slashing critical school financing and eliminating access to health care. Foreclosures have skyrocketed, the poverty rate in Tucson is near 23% and Pima County has the highest rate of child poverty in the state. This is neither fair nor balanced.
We need incentives for businesses to create sustainable, higher-paying jobs here, with protection for workers’ rights, especially our law enforcement, firefighters and teachers. We must stop giving tax breaks to the wealthiest Arizonans and start supporting small and mid-sized businesses — especially those in the renewable and sustainable energy, optics, and biomedical fields.
Arizona’s public education system needs to become one of the best in the nation to ensure Arizona’s place in the world economy. The education of our children is one of the most important issues facing Arizona. However, instead of making education a top priority, the current out of balance legislature has focused on allowing guns on school campuses and creating Bible classes, while banning ethnic studies. Arizona is headed for a financial cliff in fiscal year 2014 when the voter-approved temporary one cent sales tax for education expires. Thousands of teachers have lost their jobs, classrooms are overcrowded and school buildings are deteriorating. It is time to start valuing our public education by creating the support and tools necessary to prepare our children for the rapidly changing world.
We must hold the line against further cuts to education and invest in excellence in our schools.
Many of our hard-won environmental protections have been and continue to be destroyed. We must protect our precious water resources and help make Arizona a world leader in renewable energy and sustainability. We can lead the way in innovative, clean technology that creates jobs and revives our economy while providing answers to our energy needs and protecting our environment. Innovation is what has made America great. Arizona can once again be a world leader by developing clean innovative technology to cut production costs, eliminate energy waste, give companies incentives to upgrade and create higher paying, permanent jobs.
Our current Republican-controlled legislature has systematically dismantled access to affordable health care and declared war on women’s health, endangering their lives and setting the quality of health care back to the 1950s. State government has no right to interfere in medical decisions between a woman and her physician. The lack of access to comprehensive health care for the uninsured and the under insured will cost us dearly due to decreased preventative care and increased catastrophic care needs.
Investing in public health and preventative health is clear protection against soaring costs.