Legislature’s winning trifecta to do harm to Tucsonans - Inside Tucson Business: Guest Opinion

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Guest Opinion Legislature’s winning trifecta to do harm to Tucsonans

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Posted: Friday, April 1, 2011 10:00 am

If the Legislature's winning ticket continues to be how to harm Tucson and the region, then there's another trifecta coming from up north.


In an unrestrained demonstration of pure political payback, Senate President Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, explicitly excluded Pima County from the dollars being doled out for Gang and Immigration Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission (GIITEM).

The first $1.6 million goes to the sheriff of Maricopa County - a "border" county? - and Pearce's former employer. The next $500,000 goes to a sherriff of a county with between 300,000 and 500,000 residents and Pinal County is the only one that meets that criterion.

Where does Pima County - the county with the longest border of any in the state - fit into this fund designed to fight border crime? The Legislature is allowing any other jurisdiction to apply for remaining funds, with the exception of a county with a population of between 500,000 and 2 million. That's Pima County. Coincidence?

Pearce is playing politics with the safety of the residents of this county. Not one of the elected officials who represent this region voiced public opposition.


Next, the Legislature has named four new members to the Rio Nuevo Multipurpose Facilities District board. Chair Jodi Bain said, "We are very excited about this phenomenal group of individuals to fill these seats."

As was the case with the original group who were appointed to the reconstituted board, I have no question about the professional qualifications the group brings.

However, one of the nominees, Jonathon Paton, was directly involved in crafting legislation by which the new board was formed. Further, Paton comes into his new position openly stating the "city has been standing in the way of progress" and that more changes need to be made to wrest further control from the city.

A modicum of homework on Mr. Paton's part would demonstrate that it was six of his former colleagues from the Legislature who, on Dec. 21, 2010, drafted a letter to the new Rio Nuevo board instructing them to refrain from coming to terms on new intergovernmental agreements with the city.

The Rio Nuevo board still has yet to come to terms with the city on an agreement that would allow us to move forward with the disposition of assets and open the door for the two bodies to begin to work on how to best invest tax dollars in the Rio Nuevo redevelopment district.

We may now put to bed any pretense this board is independent of the Legislature.

State lawmakers are playing politics with the financial viability of this city. Not one of the elected officials who represent this region voiced public opposition to the appointment, or any of the comments made by Mr. Paton.


Finally, let me refer you to the Arizona State Constitution, Article 11, Section 6: "Admission of students of both sexes to state educational institutions; tuition; common school system - The university and all other state educational institutions shall be open to students of both sexes, and the instruction furnished shall be as nearly free as possible."

With the continued reductions to both K-12 and higher education being proposed by the Legislature, the constitutional requirement of being "as nearly free as possible" will be as nearly impossible to meet as one can imagine.

Perhaps it escapes the notice of the political family that is running this state, but the same high-end jobs they are trying to recruit will be looking to land in an area that is capable of producing a skilled workforce. Under a proposal by University of Arizona President Robert N. Shelton the tuition and fees cost for an in-state student next year will be in excess of $10,000 per year. That's not "nearly free." That's nearly unattainable for most middle income families who would love to see their kids stay nearby after graduating.

The Legislature is playing politics with the accessability of education for all residents of the Tucson. This shouldn't even be a local issue, but where is the opposition to these cuts from those who represent our region and our university?


Trifecta is a betting scheme in which one picks in order the winning ticket in a race. Win, Place, Show - Safety, Fiscal Viability, Access to Education. Those are the horses being ridden by our representatives. You decide if it's the winning ticket for our city.

Contact Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik at ward6@tucsonaz.gov or (520) 791-4601.

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