Democrat leaders give their view of the end of the 2018 legislative session
May 9, 2018
With the 2018 legislative session at an end, Democratic leaders discuss the teacher rally, education budget and how the House saw one of their own expelled.
The session closed with a bang following the new budget that plans to raise teacher pay by 20 percent by 2020. Minority leaders in both the House and Senate, Rep. Rebecca Rios and Sen. Katie Hobbs, agree it’s been an interesting session that they are happy to put behind them.
“I think overall there were some wins for Democrats,” Rios says. “Clearly the whole RedForEd movement descended on the capitol. I think there were a lot of fails on the governor’s part, including his attempt in putting forward gun safety regulations. Nothing passed.”
Hobbs mentions that Governor Doug Ducey avoided the language “gun safety” and used “school safety” instead. The school safety plan he put forward was endorsed by the NRA, and received hardly any support from the left.
“We have an issue of gun violence in Arizona and in America,” Hobbs says. “We need to address the larger picture than school safety. On our side, it was the issue of not going far enough. I can’t tell you what the Republicans’ opposition to it was.”
At the end of the day, Rios and Hobbs feel the teachers’ story was a happy one. They didn’t receive support for everything, but they were able to pressure a governor, who at the beginning was going to give a one percent stipend for educators, into proposing a plan that will help them get a 20 percent raise. However, there are many skeptics surrounding this plan.
“Don’t mistake that this was a ploy to get him through the next election,” Rios says. “Whether or not this truly ends up being a nine percent raise this year is in question, and a lot of us are concerned it’s not going to be.”
Voters are pushing an initiative to increase income taxes for the top one percent as a source of revenue for education funding. Hobbs says the initiative is most likely “a response to the lack of government attention to increasing revenue to support education.” The governor’s plan for funding includes cutting other areas and relying on a successful economy.
” I think it’s important for people to recognize while we’re increasing the income tax for the less than top one percent of Arizonans, those are the people who have benefited from income tax rate cuts over the last 30 years,” Rios says.
This session also saw the expulsion of House Representative Don Shooter for sexual harassment allegations. Rios says it created a diversion for the few weeks everyone was focused on it, then it went back to business as usual.
“I hope it doesn’t get forgotten, because there are certainly somethings we need to address concerning the culture of the capitol and the way people are treated,” Hobbs says.
Republican leaders will offer their perspective on the 2018 session on Thursday’s “Arizona Horizon.”