I couldn't find the column on the website, which is a common occurence for stuff published the the Reps' community sections. As such, here is the complete text of the column (from the email) and not just a link -
Tough Times Call for Unified Approach
By David Schapira
The Arizona Republic
The coming legislative session in Arizona promises to be the most turbulent in at least a decade. The ingredients of this recipe for disaster are laid out and ready to mix. Arizona's State Senators and Representatives will come together on Monday to start work. I am just as scared as you are, and I'm one of them.
But there is hope. There is still an element in the Legislature that truly wants to work in a bipartisan fashion to solve many of the problems that the state faces. There are those of us who are willing to work together, to negotiate and to do the job that our constituents elected us to do: represent them.
The most important issue we face as a state is the floundering economy. In much the same way it is affecting your pocketbook, it is affecting the state's. The greatest task or burden of the Forty-ninth Legislature is to balance the state's budget. We don't have the option, as the Federal government does, to simply print more money. We can't run deficits, nor should we. The state's constitution essentially ties our hands when it comes to borrowing money. Therefore, we really are only left with two options: cut funding or raise taxes.
Let's start by throwing out the tax increase, because it's not the solution for this crisis. First, it's just not the best idea in bad economic times. More importantly, it's virtually impossible in Arizona on the legislative level because of existing laws that require a 2/3 vote in both chambers to raise any tax or fee.
So it comes down to fund cutting, to the tune of about $3 Billion for the next fiscal year. As you can imagine, that's no small chunk of change. It's about 30% of the state's General Fund. So where do we find 30%? End health care for children? Release all the state's prisoners? Close a university or two?
There is no easy answer. It's too big a problem for one person, one party or one legislative chamber to solve. It will take all of us, the whole state (yes, even you), to figure this one out. But I'm confident that if we work together, we can get through this. We can use the bad ingredients to make something good, or at least tolerable, for the coming year.
That is my promise to you for the coming session. I will work together with anyone who is willing to work with me to come up with the best solutions to the problems we face. That being said, I will walk into budget negotiations with a set of priorities. I was elected because of my commitment to improving education in our state, and I am not ready to balance our state budget on the backs of students nor am I willing to eliminate vital funding for healthcare for kids whose parents can't afford it.
I also promise to never forget that the most important aspect of my job at the Legislature is to serve the people who elected me, whether you voted for me or not.
As my friend Congressman Harry Mitchell likes to say, "Representative is my title and my job description." I will do my best with that title to continue to represent your needs for the next two years.
State Rep. David Schapira, D-Tempe, represents District 17.
An article/interview with Rep. Schapira on AZCentral.com is here.
David's campaign website is here; his legislative website won't be available until the lege's session starts.