LD 14 State Representative candidates David Gowan, current LD25 state representative, and Mark Stonebraker, candidate for LD14 state representative, were delayed in providing answers to a questionnaire. so Their answers are below. Other candidates’ answers ran in the Oct. 3 issue of the Range News.
1 What is your opinion of Proposition 204 and the continuation of the 1-cent sales tax for education and road construction?
Gowan When we were being sold on the idea of passing our current “temporary” 1-cent sales tax we were promised by all of the politicians and interest groups that it would be temporary, and that it was only needed because we needed to get control over our state’s budget deficit. As a State Legislator, I have helped make the tough choices that have turned our old deficit of $3 billion into an $800 Million budget surplus that puts us in the black again. And, in 2012 alone, we pumped more than $400 Million back into our state’s Rainy Day Fund and nearly $200 Million back into education funding. We do not need Prop 204, and the voters should not reward the people who lied to them in order to get them to pass the temporary tax in 2010.
Stonebraker This sales tax needs to continue because it is the only immediate visible means to begin funding our public education system that has had $2 Billion stripped from it by the current legislature. This time around the proposition has some clear safeguards to ensure that this revenue goes to education and roads instead of other special interest areas as it has in the past. It is also important that the voters of Arizona have a voice in deciding on this proposition this election to retract or reaffirm their support from the last election for this sales tax.
2 Rural health care providers, including facilities in Willcox, Sierra Vista and Douglas, have voiced concern that changes in the Arizona Cost Containment Health Care System have created a serious hardship on the ability to provide services. What is your position on the role of state government in providing health care coverage through the ACCHCS?
Gowan We have always fought for supplemental funding for Arizona’s rural hospitals, because they bear a disproportionate share of the costs. The relative lack of health care alternatives means that local populations are more reliant on their facilities. In 2012 alone, we were able to secure more than $5 Million in additional funding to help our rural healthcare providers, but we need to do some more in the years to come. We also need to get more money to the 12 “critical access” hospitals, each of which are also located in rural areas.
Stonebraker Rural Hospitals are in trouble for several reasons, hospitals that are not Critical Access facilities even more so. For Non-Critical Access hospitals the Affordable Care Act will help by requiring Medicare pay these hospitals 100% of costs rather than 80%.
Further, Because of the inappropriate allocation priorities of the current legislature, AHCCCS has suffered severe and unwise cuts for which the state’s medical system and those with health insurance policies have just begun to pay the price.
Should these policies continue, Arizona will see costs in medical services continue to rise. People without covering will be forced to get health services in our emergency rooms. Hospital emergency rooms are no substitute for medical insurance. Cutting AHCCCS is a false economy and a deceitful deficit reduction method that simply puts off the expense to the future.
When I am in office, I will work in a bipartisan manner to make new and fiscally sound AHCCCS budget allocation decisions.
3 During the last session of the Arizona State Legislature, an initiative to outlaw texting while driving — after it was approved by the Senate — was rejected by the House and did not pass. What is your opinion on distracted driving, and should Arizona enact a law to address this issue?
Gowan The police ought to have the ability to punish distracted driving, no doubt. But everyone will be best served by a single, larger category for distracted driving rather than myriad laws against each specific activity. We ought to rely on the discretion of the officers to determine if a specific act at a specific time meets the definition of distracted driving.
Stonebraker With one studies indicating that the level of distraction for texting is just as severe as high levels of intoxication, we really have to re-examine enacting a law to address this issue. Perhaps a more general law governing attention while driving would cover this and many other driving distractions, like disciplining children while driving. I am reluctant to add more minutiae to our existing laws but if no other solution can be agreed upon I would vote for such legislation.
4 Based on the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on SB 1070, what further action should the Legislature undertake regarding this law?
Gowan Arizona won a terrific victory on SB1070, so there is nothing left for the Legislature to do on SB1070 itself. We can and should continue to take any and all prudent steps to secure our borders. However, those efforts are separate from SB1070, which is now the law of the land!
Stonebraker Given the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on SB 1070 removing all its provisions but one, there is no further action that the legislature needs to take, except perhaps to repeal it in order to remove the now useless provision that remains.
5 What do you believe you can do, as an elected state official, to improve the economy of Southeast Arizona?
Gowan More of what we have been doing. We all bear the burden of our federal government’s failures, but our work at the Legislature helped turn our $3 Billion deficit into an $800 Million surplus. We passed the largest tax cuts in Arizona history, and we passed an Arizona Jobs Bill that helped Arizona improve from 49th in the nation in job creation to 4th. We have Arizona getting back on the right track. Now, we need to stay the course and hope that the mess in Washington, D.C. does not blow all the way west to our great state.
Current Track record
The incumbents have passed no legislation that created jobs. In fact our legislature has destroyed 10% of arizonas jobs since 2008. A greater loss than all other states but one.
Improve our image
Improving Arizona’s image to businesses considering relocation is a key priority. When companies relocate, they want to know that their employees are getting the highest quality of life possible. They want a great education system and a phenomenal community and environment in which to raise their children.
We need to do more about getting the word out about all that Arizona has to offer with its highly livable communities and affordable housing.
Skilled work force
The primary factor corporations consider in deciding where to locate their facilities and therefore jobs is a skilled work force. Arizona has fallen way behind the rest of the country in education. If we do not reverse the crash in Arizona’s investment in education we will suffer for years to come. Arizona has lost 10% of its private sector jobs since 2008 the second largest drop in jobs of all states. Education is a prim factor.
Laid off workers
Arizona laid off more public workers than any U.S. states but Louisiana. As a result Arizona has seen the largest drop in public services of any state. This is a non-structural nonsense way to reduce expenses. They have deceived us into believing that giving up services that form the foundation of a solid economy is the only way to handle this economic downturn. We must find cost reduction that will last and aren’t just temporary ways to make a bungling legislature look good for a year.
Empahsis on Jobs
The state must look at its business priorities. At present real estate has priority in our budget, legislation and tax codes. In this market devastated by the financial meltdown of 2008, Real estate construction will not contribute to our economy for several years to come.
We will not abandon real estate but we must look to other sectors. We need to encourage high-tech startups in biotech and solar energy with incentives. We need to encourage trade with Mexico, whose economy is growing at 4% per year, outpacing our own growth. Texas and Michigan have increased exports to Mexico dramatically where Arizona has stayed about where it was in 2008. We could dramatically improve this with a change in priorities.
Tax breaks to small business for hiring new employees would be a way to help get the economy going rather than an across the board income tax cut for corporations.
As an elected House Representative, I will work with both parties to create legislation that attracts clean industries with their higher paying jobs.