Republican congressional candidate Paul Gosar Thursday said he was “miffed” that Payson was negotiating with Arizona State University instead of Northern Arizona University to build a campus in town.
Gosar advocates deep cuts in federal spending and repeal of a broad range of regulations and health care reforms in a breakfast speech at The 260 Cafe to about 15 Republicans during his whirlwind tour of the nation’s third largest congressional district in the closing days of his effort to unseat Democratic incumbent Ann Kirkpatrick.
In sharp contrast to his television commercial and the stream of press releases issued by his campaign in the past week, he barely mentioned Kirkpatrick and focused instead on the need to fix the economy by cutting taxes and government spending.
However, in answer to a question about Payson’s efforts to convince ASU to build a four-year college campus in town, the Flagstaff dentist said that he thought Northern Arizona University — not ASU — was supposed to be developing programs in rural communities.
“NAU was supposed to be developing rural campuses. I’m a little confused as to why ASU is involved.”
He cited NAU’s close connection to Coconino Community College, where community college students can take classes on the campus next door that will apply seamlessly to their BA degree at NAU.
“I would want to know why ASU is here and not NAU ... I’m kind of miffed at why ASU would be here and not NAU,” he said.
NAU had a program that offered some college-level classes in Payson, but closed that program about two years ago.
Payson officials said that in early discussions that involved representatives from all three state universities, only ASU seemed to support the notion of a stand-alone, four-year campus for 1,500 to 6,000 students.
The current plan also calls for that campus to dovetail with the classes offered at Gila Community College, located just across the highway.
The U.S. Forest Service at the moment holds the key to the future of the proposed campus, since Payson officials want to buy a 300-acre parcel of land from the Forest Service for the campus and an adjacent hotel conference center and research park. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick has been involved in pressing the Forest Service to quickly sell the land. During her campaign swing through town last week she conferred with town officials about strategy.
During most of his impromptu speech Gosar focused on the need to cut government spending, repeal regulations and dismantle the recently adopted federal health care reforms.
The father of three operated his dentistry practice for 25 years before winning a hard-fought race in a crowded Republican primary field for the right to take on Kirkpatrick, a first-term Democrat in a seat that more often votes Republican.
Gosar said that “I’m the first of 10 kids in my family, so I do understand how to fight. I do understand how to hold my own.”
He said of the deepest economic downturn since the Great Depression, “we find ourselves in a problem. The problem is the growth of government and all this stimulus spending, which is rewarding bad behavior” by the banks and the automobile industry “which has just made it worse.”
Gosar said government interventions into the economy have failed and so government should drastically cut spending — which includes a 10 percent reduction in all federal, non-military “discretionary” spending. He has said that he would exclude Social Security, Medicare, the military and debt payments from that reduction, which puts more than 80 percent of federal spending off limits.
“The No. 1 thing is to reduce the size of government,” said Gosar.
He also advocated deep cuts in corporate taxes and extending the Bush tax cuts for all taxpayers. Kirkpatrick also favors extending those cuts, even for people making more than $250,000 annually. Cuts for those high-income taxpayers account for $1 trillion of the $4 trillion cost of the cuts, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
In addition, he advocated “fewer strings. We don’t need more regulations.”
Gosar said the country doesn’t need more regulations in any sphere and that the federal regulators simply failed to enforce the existing rules.
He said the federal government should consider innovative ways to reduce the unemployment rate — like not requiring businesses to pay any payroll tax for two years on any newly hired worker.
“Nov. 3 is not a day of celebration,” said Gosar of polls predicting big Republican gains in the House and Senate.