The Envelope, Please

Posted on September 16, 2005
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Ordinary citizens can have a difficult time making sense of the political process. The legislature particularly can seem arcane and dense with detail. Voters frequently become apathetic when faced with unraveling a mountain of confusing, competing claims.

But the new Goldwater Institute Legislative Report Card provides a valid yardstick by which to rate legislative performance. The report card scores each legislator's votes on 354 bills to determine whether they "advance the principles of limited government, free markets, individual liberty, and the rule of law." Each legislator is then given an overall score and composite scores in four categories: Education, Constitutional Government, Regulation, and Tax and Budget.

The strength of the Legislative Report Card is its emphasis on specific actions rather than on rhetoric. A legislator who claims to be anti-regulation when speaking to business groups, yet finds in every regulatory bill yet another exception to the professed basic principle, deserves to be held accountable.

And now, the envelope please.

Top scorers were Rep. Russell Pearce (R-18), with an A, and Sen. Ron Gould (R-3), with an A-. Fifteen other legislators earned scores in the A range, and 20 legislators earned failing grades.

The Legislative Report Card is what it is-an impersonal assessment of voting records based on the principles of freedom and limited government. For those who don't share these values, the Report Card "reads as well upside down," as one detractor pointed out. Arizonans of all persuasions have a valuable tool to cut through the fog and make sense of the frenzy of activity in the Arizona Legislature.

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