I write in response to a letter to the editor entitled "In Phoenix, gang can't shoot straight," which appeared in your paper on Aug 12.
I will resist the urge to respond to every inaccuracy in it because the tit-for-tat exchanges that pass for political debate today fail to enlighten the audience and only coarsen the debate. I will provide a quick rebuttal though, by letting your readers know what the real status of things is at their State Legislature and how the vast majority of Republicans are trying to solve the problem.
Three things are key to understanding the problem: First, we inherited a massive deficit that has continued to deteriorate as our economy furthers declines. Second, we have a Republican governor who is dead-set on referring a sales-tax increase to the ballot. Third, we have a couple of Republican state senators who are so absolutely against this idea that they have completely lost sight of how to get the very best deal for the taxpayers of this state.
Caught in between these two and the governor is the entire remaining membership of the Republican majority. It is in this reasonable majority that I find myself, joined by 14 other Republican senators and 32 of 35 Republican representatives in the State House.
Compromise legislation that satisfies all parties, advances conservative policies to jump-start our economy, and protects priorities like education and public safety, had been designed and agreed to, and was passed by the House. The governor was waiting for it so that she could sign it. But we needed one single additional vote in the Senate, and we did not have it.
To gain the votes of the two Republican senators, the entire package would have to have been gutted to where their own fellow Republicans could not support it and the governor would veto it. And getting the Democrats to vote for compromise legislation was not possible because their proposals were so far from what is needed that the two sides could not bridge that gap. One Democrat offered to sell us his vote for $150 million in pork for his district, but later withdrew his offer when the press started asking him about it.
In an ideal world, the governor would give up on the idea of an increased sales tax, or one of our two recalcitrant Republican senators would realize that the budget as proposed would be a net tax cut for the taxpayers of this state and a good deal for Arizona's economy. That package had been lauded by numerous taxpayer groups, and even the Wall Street Journal held it up as an example of Republicans pursuing policies that would encourage growth and protect taxpayers. It is no wonder that it was supported by nearly 90 percent of the Republican caucuses.
I will respond to the author's contention that in 2010 the voters of Arizona will seek a Democrat alternative. I doubt that.
My 2008 opponent ran on a platform of higher taxes and even more spending, in spite of the deficit we knew we faced. At the time I awarded her points for honesty, but her plans would crush our economy. Like the Obama Administration in Washington, D.C., the Arizona Democrats' plans are more government, more regulations, and more taxes. They will attempt (as always) to package it as "We care more!", but voters are rejecting that argument and they are rejecting bigger government all across the country, and Arizona will do so again in 2010.
Al Melvin is the Arizona Legislature District 26 senator. He lives in SaddleBrooke, and is a Republican.