Council Gets Legislative Update

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The Payson Town Council's most important job with the Arizona Legislature this year is making sure a promise is kept.

Wrangling over the state budget last year, towns and cities wrested a promise from the Legislature about state-shared revenues.

Elimination of the town's entire 15 percent of state share revenues was on the table.

With the help of the Arizona League of Cities and Towns, and a major effort by Rep. Jake Flake, the elimination became a reduction. Instead of getting 15 percent of state shared revenues, towns will receive 14.8 percent for the 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 fiscal years.

Flake is now Arizona Speaker of the House and the council was urged by Kevin Adam, legislative coordinator for the league to continue to thank Flake for his efforts and make sure the promise of 14.8 percent of state shared revenues is kept in spite of the budget crisis.

"State shared revenue is going to be our primary focus. The state's top five officials are new people. Expect changes in non-elected leadership posts equaling a massive change in policy," Adam said.

He met with the council at a special meeting Jan. 9. He added that there are virtually no carry-over legislative committee chairs either.

"We are looking at big changes with lots of new faces. Partisan dynamics have changed dramatically. (Lobbying) is easy when it's one party in control," he said.

Adam pointed out that the new Democratic governor is working with Republican majorities in both the senate and house -- it's a 17-13 majority in the senate and a 39-21 majority in the house.

Adam reminded the town council it has a rare opportunity to push for important rural issues in this new session of the Legislature.

The president of the senate is Ken Bennett, a rural legislator from Prescott; Flake represents Payson's district; the minority leader in the state senate is Jack Brown, who also represents Payson.

The council has several opportunities to meet with the leadership of the Legislature and Gov. Janet Napolitano at the end of the month. Both the league and the Central Arizona Association of Governments are hosting day-long legislative meetings in Phoenix at the end of the month.

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