Guest Editorial
Democrats need to step up to the plate

By State Representative Debbie Lesko | December 9, 2009

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debbie leskoFor the benefit of the entire state, I sincerely hope that my Democratic counterparts in the State Legislature will step up to the plate and start to help solve the state’s budget crisis.

Up until now they have been voting against every proposal to balance the state budget and I can’t help but believe they are doing so for political gain. After all, when election time rolls around they can conveniently sit back, blame the Republicans, and state that they didn’t vote for any spending cuts.

It’s frustrating to me and it should be frustrating to you to know that we could have balanced the budget back on June 30th if at least one Democratic legislator would have voted yes. Instead, not one single Democratic legislator voted for the budget package that included both modest spending reductions and a chance for an increase in revenues, something the Democrats claim they want.

Democratic legislators say they want to work with Republicans, but I just don’t see any proof of it yet. They say they would vote for a budget fix that includes both revenue enhancements (tax increases) and spending cuts. Yet when they had the chance to do so on June 30th, not one of them did.

Instead, most Republican legislators, like myself, who are ideologically opposed to tax increases, made the hard decision and voted for a budget package that included the referral to the ballot of Governor Brewer’s temporary sales tax increase proposal coupled with spending cuts and future tax cuts because we knew the Governor would veto anything else and we knew that the future tax cuts would spur job growth and Arizona’s economy. The budget package passed in the House, but was one vote short in the Senate.

Since none of the Democrats have helped to date, Republicans have been forced to get the required number of votes from within their own ranks. Many of us have had to make very difficult decisions and compromises. Quite frankly, there are things in the budget bill that I simply don’t like. But I realize that the future of our State is more important than my personal beliefs.

The Democrats latest proposal is to raise taxes permanently by over $2 billion per year. They want to raise property taxes another $730 million/year and expand sales tax to services, so you’d even have to pay sales tax when you visited your doctor or hairdresser. Even most of the Democrats know this proposal won’t fly. They know the Republicans are opposed to it, they know they don’t have the votes to pass it, and I would hope they know the public can’t afford it, but it gives them the opportunity to claim they have an alternative plan.

I, like many of my fellow Republican legislators, have been making hard decisions because we know the future of our State is at stake. I sincerely hope that my Democratic friends will soon join in the cause.