By Kendrick Wilson
Illustration by Cody Angell
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday April 22, 2003
While Governor Janet Napolitano was working hard to improve conditions for children, health care for seniors, and save our state's forests from destructive fires, Republican legislators were busy trying to do everything in their power to invent issues to focus on and use them to avoid dealing with our state's real problems. Not to mention the upcoming budget.
Their latest antics include passing a bill making it easier to fire state employees who use work computers to view pornography (who knew there was a statewide epidemic of state employees watching porn on their computers ÷ which is already illegal, mind you), and approving a measure making state employees sign contracts swearing they will not use weapons of mass destruction (as if the death penalty would not be harsh enough for anyone convicted of using a weapon of mass destruction to kill hundreds of people).
Republican legislators refuse to consider closing any tax loopholes to balance the state's budget, and they cannot seem to get past coveting Napolitano's popularity.
Just last week, the governor rightfully vetoed a proposal to cancel the Democratic Party's early presidential primary in Arizona. Just as the Republicans back in 1996 pushed for using state tax dollars to have an early Republican primary in Arizona to bring both national attention and the attention of presidential candidates to our state, Napolitano is doing the same with the Democratic primary this year.
What could be wrong with bringing presidential candidates to Arizona to court our votes? Sen. Jack Harper (R-Phoenix) was quoted in the Arizona Daily Star saying Arizona's image and influence in national politics must take a back seat to the $1 billion budget deficit. He even had the gall to say the bill that would have scrapped the early primary ÷ which he sponsored ÷ was "for the children," as their programs might be cut with money being diverted to other areas.
Since when are the Republicans in the Arizona legislature advocates for children? Apparently, Harper forgot that Republican legislators rejected a Democratic amendment to his bill that would have diverted the money paying for the primaries to children's programs.
In the same Star article, Napolitano pointed out that Republican legislators also rejected a Democratic amendment that would have required the Republican Party to pay back the cost of their early 1996 and 2000 primaries, which could have also gone to children's programs. Don't be surprised ÷ poor logic and misrepresentation of the facts are the mainstays of the Arizona Republican Party.
This type of childish bickering must end if Arizona's serious problems are ever to be addressed. Napolitano has done what her Republican predecessors have not, and has built broad-based support for common-sense approaches to state issues.
While former Gov. Jane Hull did nothing but point fingers and stir up controversy about our state's forests during last summer's fires, Napolitano already has a plan well underway to protect our state's forests that is drawing praise from both environmentalists and property owners. While Republicans for so long paid lip service to seniors who had to choose between food and medicine, taking campaign contributions from HMOs and pharmaceutical companies all along, one of Napolitano's first accomplishments was an executive order expanding a state prescription drug program giving it more purchasing power.
In contrast to petty legislators, the public is appreciative of Napolitano's hard work. Indeed, as the Star reported, an ASU poll showed that 76 percent of respondents gave Napolitano either a good or excellent mark on her performance thus far. Only 7 percent of respondents indicated they disapproved of her performance.
Her plans now include an all-day kindergarten program that she wants to have available starting next fall.
"I think people know I am going to be a proactive governor," she told the Star. "I am going to fight for the things I believe in and really fight for education and fight for children's issues."
Napolitano is making strides in spite of our infantile and inept legislators. Hopefully, Arizonans will realize what a good change electing Napolitano brought in 2002, and will elect a new slate of legislators in 2004.
In the meantime, presidential candidates are still coming to Arizona, thanks to the failure of Republican legislators to put inane partisan politics above the interests of our state.