Arizona state lawmakers compromise, pass bipartisan budget

Due to Arizona’s changing demographics, our state is becoming more and more purple, due to new residents coming from more liberal states, the growing diversity of non-white residents, and as our State gradually rejuvenates, older and more reliable conservatives are countered. by younger voters who tend to vote less often for Republicans.

In my youth, Arizona was a solid, dependable red state akin to Utah or a less wacky, weird Texas.

Arizona gave its eight electoral votes to Bill Clinton in 1996. But that was the last time a Republican presidential candidate won Arizona until Joe Biden won Arizona’s 11 electoral votes in 2020, although Hillary Clinton came close in 2016, losing Arizona by just 3.6%, better than Barack Obama, John Kerry and Al Gore, who lost Arizona by 6.3% to 10 %. Prior to 1996, Democrats tended to lose Arizona by 20-30%, mostly because they weren’t campaigning in our losing state.

Because of Arizona’s conservative leanings, Republican legislators in the House and Senate have rarely had to rely on Democrats to pass their budget. So while Democrat lawmakers in the Phoenix State Capitol may stymie voters as loyal opposition members, the Democratic Legislative Caucus really had to accept what Republicans were willing to throw their way and hope that next year will do better at the polls.

But the Republican hold on the legislature has slowly diminished over the years. Republicans having lost their supermajority for the first time in 2012, they now only hold a one-seat majority in the House and a one-seat majority in the Senate. During the last election cycle, a personal feud between Arizona Sens. Kelly Townsend [R-District 16] and Michelle Ugenti-Rita [R-District 26] both women ran off each other’s bills, so neither passed, failing by one vote each.

So if Republicans want something to pass, they have to demand the support of all of their lawmakers, without exception, because even if one of them fails, the vote ends in a tie – which is the legislative death because the framers of Arizona’s constitution wisely did not allow tie-breakers, thus forcing compromise.

Also in the last cycle, the Legislature passed a catch-all omnibus budget bill that the Arizona Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional because the non-budget portions of the bill did not break down all items by title as required by state law, violating the public’s ability to search for items.

The Arizona Supreme Court takes the accessibility of public records very seriously, which should be a warning to any local official trying to circumvent state law.

The ruling rejected the budget, and lawmakers were not called back, in part because most Republican bills passed in omnibus form because of their tie to the budget would fail if passed point-by-point.

Republican lawmakers who had worked without any Democratic input effectively saw the vast majority of the session canceled by their own partisanship.

This year, Arizona state legislators did the unthinkable: they passed a bipartisan budget.

“I am grateful that such a large majority of House members, Republicans and Democrats alike, had enough wisdom and courage to work together to find answers to the major problems facing our state,” the president said. Arizona, Russell “Rusty” Bowers. [R-District 25] declared. “Achieving bipartisan agreement on meeting the needs of the people of Arizona should not be a rare or historic event, as it was. I hope it inspires and fosters a renewal of spirit cooperative upon which our great state was built.”

Across the aisle, House Minority Leader Reginald Bolding [D-District 27] says, “this is what a negotiated compromise budget looks like. It’s what our state — where voters are nearly evenly divided by affiliation — has long asked of us. Work together. There are things about this plan that we like, things that we don’t like. Things we like, things we hate. But weighed all together, the good of this budget — ultimately — outweighs the bad.

We commend our legislators who set aside their partisanship by passing a budget bill neither side liked, but both could live with. This is the goal of democratic governance: majority and minority factions compromise to pass a bill with overwhelming but never universal support. No one gets everything they want, but no one goes home empty handed and in the end, we voters benefit.

Christopher Fox Graham

Chief Editor