The annual Goldwater Institute Legislative Report Card scores Arizona lawmakers on their support of principles of limited constitutional government. Each piece of legislation is assessed in one of four categories for whether it expands liberty consistent with the Arizona Constitution, or restricts liberty.
This report card assesses 326 votes. Average scores were 54 percent, both in the House and the Senate, indicating that slightly more votes upheld liberty than undermined it. These scores are slightly greater than the scores first reported in 2003, but they represent a decline from the average scores attained in 2012. This decline calls into question whether the previous long-term trend of improvement in voting patterns will hold.
Although Tax and Budget scores were unusually high (mostly likely due to the anomalously low number of such bills scored), significant backsliding in scores occurred in Education, Constitutional Government, and Regulation. In a number of notable cases, the scores of individual legislators dramatically decreased from past years.
The highest overall score was that of Senate President Andy Biggs and Senator Judy Burges, both at 74 percent. Newcomer Representative Darin Mitchell received the highest score in the House, which was 72 percent. These high scorers received overall grades of A-. Nevertheless, a downward trend in the highest scoring legislators remains apparent. Not since 2010 has a single legislator scored an A or higher overall.
Beyond the individual legislator grades, this report card includes an assessment of each bill’s impact on the status quo with “high impact,” “moderate impact,” and “incremental impact” categories. This year the difference between the parties with regard to high impact bills was 65 and 64 points in the Senate and House respectively—a dramatic increase from the 37 point gap in 2012. With respect to high impact bills, Republicans scored 77 percent versus an average score of 12 percent by Democrats in the Senate; and in the House, Republicans scored 81 percent versus an average score of 17 percent by Democrats.
The 2013 Legislative Report Card also compares traditionally funded and publicly funded candidates. As with all previous years, the source of campaign funding appears to have no significant impact on voting behavior.
The report card is not an absolute measure of a legislator’s merit and does not constitute any endorsement. It is meant to be a tool for general research and for accountability, helping voters assess the work of their elected representatives.