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Yuma senator had hand in state's financial turnaround
This must have been a “fairly good year” if he didn't get fired, quipped Sen. Don Shooter.
The Yuma Republican was re-elected to represent the state's newly formed legislative District 13 in the Arizona Senate, after running opposed in both the primary and general elections.
One of the senator's highlights was being appointed chairman of the Appropriations Committee, which is considered a powerful position.
Senate Majority Leader Andy Biggs asked him to continue chairing the committee when the 51st regular session begins in January.
Shooter said he is proud of his role in turning around the state's multimillion-dollar budget deficit. He noted that the committee laid out a budget for the next three years.
“We righted the ship of the state, stabilized the patient. We made a $2 billion difference in two years and restored the majority of funds to counties and cities in the state,” he said.
Committee members found it a challenge because they could only control one-third of the revenues. The other funds were limited by mandates.
“We tried to bring a little common sense to government. Common sense in government is not common,” he said.
He's happy that the budget included “new money on priorities,” such as $250 million in education.
“We're going to try to continue to do that,” he added. “My feeling is that the national economy will determine that.”
The committee also protected farmer group funds from being swept this year, he pointed out.
He didn't introduce as many bills as he did in his first year of service, but he did have a hand in the passage of legislation that set a precedent across the nation.
“This is the only thing I promised. My main responsibility was to create a budget. Chairing the Appropriations Committee takes a lot of time,” he explained.
Shooter sponsored Senate Bill 1369, also known as the Amberly's Place Bill. It is designed to protect confidentiality between a victim and a victim advocate.
“It's being copied in 15 states,” he noted. “I was proud to be able to do this.”
Although he didn't introduce other bills, he did support several proposals. When deciding whether to support a bill, Shooter said he considers this criteria: “Is this good for my bosses — the taxpayers and the voters? If yes it is, then I'm behind it.”
Legislation that he continues to support is the Jobs Bill. During a special session, the legislature passed the “Jobs Bill” with the intent of creating a more “business-friendly” state to attract businesses, create jobs and provide tax relief to businesses.
Shooter worked with the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, Governor's Office and House and Senate leadership to refine and promote the bill, he said.
“The Jobs Bill is good for business, good for the state. A lot of people will benefit.”
The tax reductions package included a 40 percent cut in capital gains taxes. The reason for his support? “Homeless guys don't provide jobs, rich people do. This allows them to invest in new structures or equipment. That all in turn will stimulate the economy,” Shooter said.
“Arizona was No. 27 two years ago (when it comes to being business friendly). Last year we were No. 9. This year we went to No. 5. We're going to No. 1. Well, we're trying to.”
He's hoping California's new “punitive taxes” will prompt business to relocate to Arizona. He's behind an initiative to lure businesses from the neighboring state — and the jobs they come with — to Arizona.
“I'm going to try to get some of those to Yuma,” he said.
He highlighted Yuma's “great labor and great access” to the California market. Products could be in San Diego or Los Angeles by noon, “and without all those taxes they have in California.”
Shooter also pointed out that Arizona is a right-to-work state.
“We'll build Twinkies. Get them down here,” he said, referring to the union dispute that reportedly shut down Twinkie-maker, Hostess Brands Inc.
Shooter is also working in conjunction with local, airport and military officials to get Yuma designated as a testing location for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). Federal legislation calls for six test sites for unmanned aircraft across the nation.
“Yuma is the logical place because we already have YPG as a testing site,” he said.
Shooter is looking forward to the 51st legislative session and plans to work hard for Yumans, the senator said.
“I don't sit still for long. I'm trying to do a good job for us. Although I'm known as a kind of joker, I take this seriously.”
Mara Knaub can be reached at email@example.com or (928) 539-6856. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSMaraKnaub or on Twitter at @YSMaraKnaub.