The 2015 Arizona regular legislative session is well underway. It is likely that the legislature will adjourn by mid-April.
Arizona has a new governor – Republican Doug Ducey, who was elected by a large margin in November. The Arizona House and Senate are controlled by Republicans. In fact, all eleven Arizona statewide elected officials (including the five Corporation Commissioners who regulate public utilities) are Republican. The conservative political philosophy dominates public policymaking at the state capitol.
A state budget crisis is the major 2015 issue. Arizona is facing a large state budget deficit this fiscal year and next. The governor has recommended cuts in most state agency budgets, higher education, and extensive agency fund sweeps to eliminate the deficits. Such expected cuts, following six recession years of cuts, will result in the continued lack of expected state government services as well as any new financial investment in public education and social services. The corrections system is the exception. New private prison construction has been recommended by the governor.
Arizona’s economic recovery continues to trail the rest of the nation. Ten percent of all Arizona jobs were lost during the recession. Only 75% have returned. This has resulted in a lack of income and sales revenue, thus greatly contributing to the current budget deficit. Arizona’s economy is overly reliant on the home building industry and dramatic population growth. Currently the state’s slowest area of job growth is within the residential construction sector.
What issues are top of mind for Arizonans? According to a recent ASU Morrison – Cronkite poll of Arizona adults, K-12 education and water resources are the top two issue priorities. Law enforcement and public safety ranked third. The poll link: http://morrisoninstitute.asu.edu/sites/default/files/content/Poll022415.pdf