Local business and community leaders met with our area’s state representatives during a chamber-sponsored Eggs and Issues breakfast Tuesday morning.
Questions submitted by those in attendance reflected a number of growing concerns about the future of rural Arizona.
The topics of greatest concern have a huge impact on an already stressed Arizona budget. They included: the high cost of medical care for Mexican nationals entering Arizona illegally, insufficient education funding, declining tourism, new water sources, the state’s negative job-growth rate, tax increases, the preservation and management of our forests, and the future of our state parks specifically the Rim country’s Tonto Natural Bridge.
In attendance were Senator Jack Brown, State Minority Leader; Representative Jake Flake, Speaker-Elect; Senator Ken Bennett, Senate President-Elect; and State Representative Bill Konopnicki.
What I heard during this meeting was reassuring. These four legislators seem to be good men who are willing to put aside party differences and work together to strengthen rural Arizona.
But I was most impressed with the straight-talk and no-nonsense answers I heard from Flake and Brown. These men gave confident answers that directly addressed the issues.
Here are a few examples of the direct way they responded to questions:
Brown on taxes and education:
“I’m not one who is willing to sign a pledge that I will not raise any taxes. Sometimes you have to borrow some money ... I’m not afraid to borrow money to build a school.”
Flake on Rim country water and the Tonto Natural Bridge:
“I honestly feel the place to get (water) is the Blue Ridge Reservoir right up over the hill.”
“I assure you, the (Tonto Natural Bridge) will stay open. If they (the state parks board) don’t feel like they can keep it open, we’ll find another way erhaps lease it to the town.”
Whether we agree or disagree with the way these representatives lead, I am impressed with their willingness to take a stand and express their convictions. There are many complex issues facing the state as we take on a billion dollar budget shortfall. There are no easy answers, but what I saw Tuesday is a good team of representatives the voters have assembled to find solutions.