Yuma senator 'glad' for role in turning around state's economy
Sen. Don Shooter, R-Yuma, is happy to have had a part in turning around the state's multimillion-dollar budget deficit. His hope for the new year is “to continue keeping the state solvent and still encourage business.”
Shooter chaired the Senate Committee on Appropriations last year, producing a balanced budget with new funding for education and hundreds of millions in a rainy day fun, according to Senate majority leader Andy Biggs.
“Last year's budget went from $1.5 billion in the hole to $600 million to the good. That's a $2 billion change,” Shooter noted.
“I'm glad I had a part in that ... I'm glad to make a difference, not only for Yuma but the state of Arizona.”
Biggs tapped Shooter to continue chairing the committee when the Arizona Legislature begins its 51st regular session in January. The position is considered one of the most powerful in the Arizona Senate.
To stimulate business, Shooter pointed out, the Senate cut capital gains taxes by 40 percent, among other tax cuts.
“It took Arizona from No. 9 in the country to No. 5 when it comes to being business friendly. We want to make that No. 1. Business friendly — that's how we get jobs.”
Shooter was first appointed chairman of the appropriations committee eight months into his first term in office. The position became vacant after Biggs, the former chairman, moved into another position.
It's “virtually unheard of” that a freshman senator would be asked to head such a powerful committee, Shooter noted.
“It's pretty unusual as a freshman, and normally it's someone from Phoenix,” Shooter said at the time of his first appointment. “It's a big deal. It's the first time, someone from Yuma has gotten that appointment.
“It's a big responsibility,” he added, noting that every bill in the Senate goes through the Appropriations Committee and the committee works with the state budget-makers.
Shooter said he believes he earned the nomination by proving to be “up to the task” in his first year in the Senate.
“I'm willing to do what is necessary. My feeling is I did what I said I would do. I sat firm in difficult issues.”
Before his appointment, he served as a member of the appropriations committee and chaired a subcommittee.
For the 2013 session, Shooter expects to stay on as a member of the Rural and Military Affairs Committee. “I could be on others, but my plate is pretty full.”
As a representative of Yuma, Shooter has two major goals for 2013. His first priority is to establish a technical and trade high school to Yuma.
“We need to have one,” he said, noting that some jobs in Yuma go unfilled due to lack of qualified candidates, in spite of the high unemployment rate.
His second priority is to bring the high-speed Lambda Internet network to Yuma high schools. The education-based network is considered to be the tops in the nation in speed and capacity.
“This network is the backbone of research universities. This would make it possible for a Kofa High School student to hook up with someone at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).”
Shooter hopes to accomplish this goal through private/public partnerships.
“We need to share the costs so that not all is borne by the taxpayers.”
Mara Knaub can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6856. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSMaraKnaub or on Twitter at @YSMaraKnaub.