Legislation Adds Outrage To Insult

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If you can figure out why some members of the state legislature want to take home rule away from the residents of Gila County, you're a better person than our community college officials and members of the governing board.

First there was House Bill 2105, which would wipe out provisional community college districts in the state, the only one of which is ours. That despite the fact that 67 percent of the voters in Gila County voted in favor of forming a provisional district in accordance with state law.

Blame John Allen, who represents Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, north central Phoenix and other tony parts of the Valley, for that piece of handiwork.

But if HB 2105 is an insult, the legislature's latest effort is an outrage. House Bill 2079 is what is known as a striker bill, which means it is a rewrite of a previous bill with the same name and number -- only the intent has been changed.

Besides doing some other things, like making Eastern Arizona College a four-year institution, it, too, would do away with provisional community college districts, the only one of which, you will remember, is ours.

Laura Knaperek, who represents Tempe, is the responsible party for this latest masterpiece.

"It basically looks like it was written on the kitchen table," one GCC official said.

Why there are now two bills that would take away our provisional community college district status is anybody's guess. But here's the bottom line: if either one of them passes, Gila County goes back to being an unincorporated district and our residents will have to pay out-of-county tuition.

What is the motive for the actions of Allen and Knaperek? Again, it's anybody's guess.

But the best guess from our local college officials is that the two Maricopa County legislators who have introduced HB 2105 and HB 2079 want to deny us our share of state funding so their community colleges can have a bigger piece of the pie. There may be even more to it, but this much is known -- Rep. Allen has said that Gila County, if it is allowed to remain a provisional district, will "dilute the pot."

Both bills will be heard by the appropriations committee on Wednesday. If you are insulted and outraged by the way these bills treat the citizens of Gila County, run (don't walk) to GCC's website: www.gilaccc.org.

There you will find an update on the two pieces of legislation and a link that allows you to send a message to the appropriations committee with just a click.

The choice of words is yours, but the message should be loud and clear -- we, the residents of Gila County, pay the same taxes, so we deserve the same education funding as all the other counties in Arizona.

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