Report Card: Arizona Legislators Score Poorly in 2003 Spring Session

Posted on September 29, 2003 | Type: Press Release
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Phoenix-Arizona legislators scored poorly on the Goldwater Institute's 2003 Legislative Report Card, with averages for both the Senate and House of Representatives under 50 percent in an analysis of 191 votes in the areas of education, constitutional government, regulation, and fiscal policy. Votes were graded according to whether they promoted the principles of limited government, individual liberty, and individual responsibility.

"Our goal is to provide voters with transparency and accountability," said Satya Thallam, fiscal policy analyst at the Goldwater Institute and author of the report card. "With a thousand bills introduced every year, it's nearly impossible for constituents to keep track of what their representatives are doing."

As examples of misguided legislative actions, Thallam cites increasing the state's budget during a recession, failing to pass a spending limit, failing to expand school choice, slapping dozens of unnecessary and harmful regulations on Arizona businesses and citizens, and committing future legislatures to spending tens of millions of dollars a year.

But Thallam also points to several positive actions. Legislators relaxed certification requirements for school personnel, placed hurdles in front of municipalities attempting to abuse the power of eminent domain, and sent to the ballot a referendum requiring voter spending initiatives to identify revenue sources sufficient to cover costs.

The five highest-scoring senators were Thayer Verschoor (R-Gilbert, A-), Jack Harper (R-Deer Valley, A-), Dean Martin (R-Phoenix, B+), Marilyn Jarrett (R-Mesa), and Bob Burns (R-Peoria). The top five representatives were Eddie Farnsworth (R-Gilbert, A-), Russell Pearce (R-Mesa, B+), Karen Johnson (R-Mesa, B+), Andy Biggs (R-Gilbert, B), and Randy Graf (R-Green Valley, B).

The five lowest-scoring senators were Gabrielle Giffords (D-Tucson, F), Harry Mitchell (D-Tempe, F), Bill Brotherton (D-Phoenix, F+), Toni Hellon (R-Tucson, F+) and Richard Miranda (D-Phoenix, F+). The seven lowest-scoring representatives were David Bradley (D-Tucson, F-), Phil Lopes (D-Tucson, F-), Meg Burton-Cahill (D-Tempe, F-), Ken Clark (D-Phoenix, F-), Jack Jackson, Jr. (D-Window Rock, F-), John Loredo (D-Phoenix, F-) and Tom Prezelski (D-Tucson, F-).

Scores tended to break down along party lines, with the Republican majority generally scoring higher than the Democratic minority.

Press inquiries should be directed to Darcy Olsen, (602) 462-5000. To view the 2003 Legislative Report Card, visit here.

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