By Tom Jenney, President of American For Prosperity-Arizona
Arizona State Senator David Farnsworth is the highest-scoring legislator on this year’s Americans For Prosperity-Arizona’s 2015 Legislative Scorecard, and will receive AFP-Arizona’s Barry M. Goldwater Legislator of the Year Award.
The scorecard assigns weights to over 300 bills according to their projected dollar impact to Arizona taxpayers, consumers and producers, with $1 million equaling one point on the scorecard. AFP-Arizona’s 2015 Legislative Scorecard assigns the heaviest weight to the budget bill crafted by Governor Doug Ducey and legislative leaders.
The budget passed March 7 is in many ways the most fiscally conservative state budget we’ve seen in at least two decades. By making over $300 million in spending reductions, Gov. Ducey and the legislators who voted for the budget have put the state on track to achieve a structurally balanced budget by 2017, so that government will be made to live within its means – just like our families and small businesses do.
Perhaps most importantly, the budget is designed to eliminate administrative waste in school districts and focus more money into our classrooms to help teachers and students boost academic achievement.
First-year Governor Ducey earned the designation of “Friend of the Taxpayer” on the 2015 Scorecard – the first time a governor has earned a good rating from the group since the Arizona chapter of AFP launched in 2007.
Also heavily weighted on the Scorecard are bills that will bar state agencies from using personnel or resources to enforce ObamaCare, attempt to reform abuses in the state’s Medicaid program, put roadblocks in front of the EPA’s efforts to hurt affordable energy generation in Arizona, expand school choice scholarships for children, remove burdensome regulations on ridesharing services, abolish the state’s “Inflation Tax,” and allow patients to order lab tests directly without having to have them prescribed by physicians. As it has done in past years, AFP-Arizona also grades legislators and the governor on missed opportunities: important reform bills that are prevented from reaching floor votes in the House or Senate.
Of course, many special interest groups are not happy with this year’s budget and legislative session:
- The school district bureaucrats who steal money from the students and front-line teachers in our classrooms hate the fact that the budget reduces spending on administrative bureaucracy – even though the budget provides a net increase in K-12 classroom spending. The bureaucrats don’t want you to know that our school system in Arizona already spends over $9,400 per student each year, or that there has been a nearly 20-percent increase in general fund spending in K-12 since 2010. Your school district officials also don’t want you to know that on average they have routinely failed to put more than 53 percent of available dollars into classrooms (and even that figure is inflated).
- The educrats who waste taxpayer money and student tuition dollars at our community colleges and universities are screaming about the $100 million in reductions to higher education budgets – even though the cuts reduce total university revenue by only two percent.
- The corporate crony capitalists are going to miss the $75 million that has been taken away from the Arizona Commerce Authority’s corporate-welfare slush fund.
In the coming months, the big spenders will continue to wail and moan and spread false information to you and your neighbors. And some of your neighbors will complain to their elected officials. That is yet another reason why you need to thank your elected officials for supporting the responsible budget.
Hero of the Taxpayer Award Winners
Sen. David Farnsworth, Score: 93
Sen. Judy Burges, 93
Sen. Sylvia Allen, 92
Sen. Steve Smith, 91
Rep. Warren Petersen, 91
Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, 91
Rep. Steve Montenegro, 90
Rep. Anthony Kern, 90
Rep. Darin Mitchell, 90
Sen. Debbie Lesko, 90
All the top 10 lawmakers are Republicans. Not a single Democrat earned anything remotely close to a “friend of the taxpayer” honor. Virtually every Democrat in the legislature ranked as “Needs Improvement,” “Friend of Big Government,” or “Champion of Big Government.”
State Sen. Bob Worsley is one of the least friendly Republicans to taxpayers and ranks cumulatively as a “Friend of Big Government,” though he did better this year.