For those who love excuses to criticize government, the Arizona Legislature is an absolute pleasure. For the rest of the state, however, lawmakers are nothing short of a curse. Year after year, the decisions handed down from Phoenix ignore the interests of the people.
The most recent example is the Legislature's failure to pass a widely praised bill that would help underprivileged third-graders to stay in school and, if they do their part, to attend college after high school graduation.
The bill was written by the University of Arizona's student body president-elect, T.J. Trujillo. Youngsters enrolled in the program would be provided with tuition waivers for college if they get good grades and stay out of trouble.
Dubbed "ASPIRE," the program could accomplish real good by providing opportunities to kids who otherwise might be lost in the system.
But unfortunately, the bill was "killed" this week when the House Appropriations Committee refused to discuss it. Rep. Bob Burns, R-Glendale, said he had unanswered questions and blocked the bill's progress through the lawmaking process _ despite the fact that it has widespread support both in the Legislature and among the public.
If Burns had questions, he could have asked them before it was too late. And, according to Patrick McWhortor, executive director of the Arizona Students' Association, Burns had previously said his questions had been answered.
But because he didn't do his homework, the bill is no longer being considered.
There is hope, however. Although the bill is dead, the plan can be resurrected anytime, perhaps by being added as an amendment to another bill. Burns' ineptitude does not have to be the entire Legislature's ineptitude. While legislators want to finish up their session within the next two weeks, there is a chance that someone will take the time to save ASPIRE.
It would be a great way for lawmakers to earn some praise for a change. Read Next Article