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Yuma legislators mostly pleased with Brewer's speech
Gov. Jan Brewer gave two nods to Yuma during her State of the State address Monday. The governor invited Yuma's Republican senator, Don Shooter, to accompany her to the podium, and the color guard at the ceremony hailed from the Marine Corps Air Station Yuma.
It's no surprise Brewer invited Shooter to be one of her four escorts. “I'm a big fan of the governor,” Shooter said.
Shooter mostly applauded Brewer's speech, but he reserved full judgment until she submits a budget proposal. As the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, he will work with state budget-makers to produce a budget.
“The governor has a vision for the state of Arizona, and we will try to help her realize it within the bounds of fiscal realities,” Shooter said. “We don't know what we can do. We don't have a budget yet. We can only do what we can do.”
As for the governor's surprise announcement that she will support an expansion to Medicaid as part of President Obama's health-care overhaul, Shooter noted that “philosophically” he's against it.
“I don't want (the federal government) taking care of my health,” he said.
Sen. Lynne Pancrazi, D-Yuma, was “very pleased for the most part” with the governor's speech. “I appreciate her willingness to expand Medicaid and restore funding for SROs (school resource officers).”
Pancrazi “very much agrees” with Medicaid expansion. “It's just common sense. (Otherwise) we will lose millions and millions of dollars from the feds that will still come out of our taxes and go to other states.”
Expanding the program will help mentally and physically handicapped residents and rural hospitals, she noted.
“Rural hospitals are especially hit because most are the only ones in the community and they have to serve everyone. Those without AHCCCS and without insurance go to the emergency room.”
Pancrazi is especially pleased with Brewer's intention to restore funding for school resource officers.
In the aftermath of the Connecticut school shootings, she said, “I'm very happy she's considering adding school resource officers ... Funding had been cut from the budget, and she wants to restore it. That's really important to me.”
Rep. Lisa Otondo, D-Yuma, is also happy with Brewer's plans to expand Medicaid. “I think it's great,” she said.
Rep. Juan Carlos Escamilla, D-San Luis, could not be reached for comment.
As for Brewer's plan to add more Child Protective Services workers to handle the overload of cases, Shooter supports the governor.
“Sadly the CPS load has tripled in my time (in the Senate). A lot of kids have been displaced in these bad economic times. We're morally obligated to take care of them,” Shooter said.
But again, he said, it comes down to the bottom line. “It depends on the amount she'll ask for.”
Pancrazi also agreed with Brewer's plan to establish a natural resources council to look into how the federal government handles public lands.
“If they continue to close them down and close them down, it means no more hunting, no more fishing, no more camping, no more fishing. To me, we need to keep public lands open so the public can utilize them,” Pancrazi said.
“I just know it's going to be a battle with the federal government. It will be the federals against the state, and we're usually on the low end of that.”
Pancrazi also supports, with some reservations, the governor's call for a simplified tax code for small businesses.
“For the most part I agree, but there are couple of things I'm not too comfortable with. Small business is 80 percent of the state ... and if we could simplify their taxes that would be amazing.
“What (Brewer) didn't say is what happens once the one-cent sales tax goes away. Where is the money coming from to offset that tax cut? I'm anxious to find out where she'll find the funds,” Pancrazi said.
“People still want cities and counties to provide services, and they can't without funding,” she noted.
Overall, Brewer's speech made Otondo feel “encouraged.” She is looking forward to the new session, which officially started Monday.
“I want to see money go towards education. I'm on the education committee, so I'm looking forward to working with the committee and seeing what appropriations we can get.
“I think it's going to be a good session, and I'm anxious to see what will happen and what new bills we'll see,” Otondo added.
Mara Knaub can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6856. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSMaraKnaub or on Twitter at @YSMaraKnaub.