Government officials discuss Florida school shooting, min. wage, edu. funding
Feb. 14, 2018
Arizona politicians talk about what needs to be addressed to prevent mass shootings, a reevaluation of the state’s minimum wage and the decision to extend Prop. 301.
Parkland, Fla. school shooting
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was the latest location of a mass shooting on Wednesday afternoon. The 19-year-old gunman is accused of killing 17 people and injuring 14 others with an AR-15 assault rifle, according to investigators.
Sen. Steve Smith, a republican representing District 11, says every time this happens, the government takes a harder look on how to stop it. Smith says he is more focused on the mental health aspect of it.
Republican House Speaker Pro Tem Rep. T. J. Shope says it is too late to submit a new legislation in response to the latest shooting. Beyond legislation, he says, the state can start to look into hiring more resource officers in schools and putting more research into detecting early signs of mental instability issues.
When shootings like this happen, the public turns to the government and starts asking what will be done to prevent this from happening again. Smith says even politicians will rush to implement a new legislation, but there’s no guarantee that the proposed legislation will actually be effective. The question is, Smith emphasizes, are you doing something to prevent another situation or are you doing something just to do something?
Shope agrees that rushing to do something is less effective than taking the time to figure out what needs to be done. Shope says he believes the root cause of issues like this is the failure to early detect those who have mental issues. The state currently has programs in place for that, but it’s hard to know for sure if they are looking in the right place.
Neither politician mentioned any solution revolving around gun control. Rather, they both agreed that focusing on insuring that every school has resource officers and the public is aware of signs that point toward mental instability will prevent such shootings from happening.
Arizona’s minimum wage, which was $8.05 in 2016, rose another $0.50 to $10.50 at the beginning of the year. Voters agreed on raising the minimum wage ever year until it is $12 in 2020. Politicians are considering opening the vote again to residents to see if they want to change their mind after having more information than they had when they first voted.
“We had a professor of economics saying 60 to 70 percent of small business owners they interviewed either laid off employees or are not hiring,” Smith says. “Another 80 to 90 percent of these same businesses are experiencing price increases.”
The increasing wages are causing businesses to stagnate and turn to automation which means less people working. It’s not likely that voters will vote against themselves, but politicians agree it won’t hurt to give them the option after supplying them with the new information.
Smith explains that when legislation is written, politicians have the opportunity to go back a year later and tweak details if something isn’t working. However, if something is on the ballot, legislators are unable to touch it after it is voted on.
The ability to vote against the minimum wage increase will be offered to voters again, but legislators aren’t hopeful that they will change their mind.
Extending Prop. 301
Passed in 2000, Prop. 301 implements a 0.6% sales tax increase that is used to fund schools in the state. It is set to expire in 2020 unless it is agreed to be extended, and it is on the table to possibly increase the sales tax.
Shope says he isn’t sure if extending the proposition is the right thing to do at this time, but it is still a good idea. It will force people to come together and agree on something, he says.
Smith, on the other hand, is looking forward to both sides coming to a compromise to extend the sales tax increase in order to fund education. Smith’s largest issue when it comes to education funding is making sure teachers receive the pay they deserve.