Yuma senator hopes to continue state's progress
When reflecting back on the past two years, Sen. Lynne Pancrazi, D-Yuma, said it was often a battle to pass legislation that she felt the people of Arizona wanted and it was also difficult to keep bills from passing that she felt were detrimental to the state.
“Most of the time I spent this last year was trying to prevent legislation from happening more than passing it,” said Pancrazi, who represents District 4.
She said it was also difficult to find answers to various issues because there was a supermajority of Republicans in the House and the Senate with differing ideologies.
“It was a tough two years for those of us who were looking for solutions to our problems in the state as far as economic development and education and some of the social issues.
“My goal is to represent the people; we didn't pass some laws in these last two years that in my estimation hurt the people of Arizona.”
Some of those bills included energy conservation for public buildings, commerce authority offering solar grants, improvement districts for renewable energy and help for small businesses if they hired within the state.
“Those kinds of bills would really help the people in Arizona,” Pancrazi said. “Eighty percent of our businesses are small businesses, and there was a small business employment tax rate that would lower the tax burdens for small businesses if they hired Arizona workers — well, that never saw the light of day.”
Pancrazi noted though the fact that the state is slowly on its way up from being as underwater financially is encouraging.
“Some of the bills that we could have passed would have helped us get out of that further — the constraints of the general fund being so diminished — but unfortunately, we cut on the backs of poor people and our schools,” she said. “That was tough for me to be able to handle.”
In regards to education, she said that they provided additional funding for K-3 reading for the new Move on When Reading mandates, but there's still much more that needs to be done for education.
“We still need to fund our schools far better than we are right now, and we need to allow the school boards the flexibility to use those funds.”
Pancrazi said she hears complaints from people in schools that say they have funds that cannot be shifted over to other parts in the budget by law, such as to help give teachers a raise, for example.
“Hopefully we're going to pass legislation that will allow the school districts to use the funds they do have in areas that they need to so the school boards can choose that instead of the state Legislature determining how that's going to be done.”
However, she said she was proud of the bills they passed in terms of helping Child Protective Services take children out of unsafe situations faster and legislation that allowed tax deductions for people who wanted to put money aside for the future to pay for nursing care for themselves and family.
Pancrazi said other bills allowed algae farmers to receive the same low property tax rates provided to other farming businesses and also allowed them to lease agriculture land from the Arizona State Land Department.
“Those kinds of bills were good and important. Those were the things I was pleased about,” she said.
“I'm looking forward to a new session that has elected officials in it who are more concerned about the people of the state of Arizona, the economic development of the state of Arizona and the growth of industry (rather) than those who are there to just fulfill the ideology that they believe ... I'm also hoping we can work across party lines even more than we have in the past.”
She said she is extremely thankful to the people of District 4 who elected her again as their state senator.
“I'm really excited about going over there and trying to make a difference for our state,” Pancrazi said.
Sarah Womer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6858. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSSarahWomer or on Twitter at @YSSarahWomer.