What will be your main priority in the Legislature?
Terri Proud: Attracting jobs and bringing businesses into the State of Arizona. This needs to be our first and foremost priority. A second priority is improving our educational system. I will work for high standards to ensure that every child in the State of Arizona has the opportunity for the great education that they deserve.
Vic Williams: Continue to control the budget so the state can provide a stable environment for our private-sector job market to begin its rebound from this great recession. When first elected and sworn into office in 2009, my fellow colleagues and I inherited a $3.3 billion budget deficit from the prior legislature and former governor. Along with Gov. Jan Brewer, we took decisive action and within 15 months reduced spending by $2.3 billion and brought forth Prop 100 to fill the gap. In short, we made tough choices in tough times. We now must continue to keep spending in line with revenues.
Nancy Young Wright: I'll fight to protect and improve funding for our public school system, which is the foundation of our economy. Currently we are last in the nation in public school funding, but second in poverty and fourth on spending in prison. This sad equation must change. Arizona's students must be able to compete in a global economy. We need the best teachers, technology and curriculum for our students. I will continue to push for higher teacher pay, smaller class sizes and the reinstatement of all-day kindergarten. In addition, we must secure our border by cracking down on criminal gangs and cartels on the border.
2. How would you address the state's budget deficit?
Terri Proud: Producing more taxpayers is the best solution. Our Legislature is the body responsible for creating the environment in which companies want to operate and create jobs in Arizona. Phoenix is currently collecting taxes on behalf of cities and towns. Allowing local governments to collect those taxes directly would save $550 million, according to the Goldwater Institute. Letting natural attrition reduce some state payroll is a third option. Last but definitely not least is tourism, a major source of income for many states. Promoting tourism is a great way to bring additional dollars to our state.
Vic Williams: After closing a $3.3 billion budget gap, our state now finds itself looking at new deficits. It is estimated that Obamacare will cost Arizona an additional $1 billion in unfunded mandates and the summer of recovery promised by our federal government's stimulus program has failed to produce jobs resulting in further depressed revenues to our state. Our situation is much better than it was two years ago, however, we are facing a deficit of $500 million. We will again be faced with agency cuts and consolidation of departments. We will need to find best practices, asking the departments themselves to be part of the solution and to be our partners in realigning and adjusting in how we conduct our state's business.
Nancy Young Wright: I would start by reviewing the loopholes in the tax code that are giveaways for corporate and special interests. Our entire tax code needs to be modernized. We need to have a bi-partisan, comprehensive solution to change the structural base so that it's more equitable for individuals and businesses and will provide more stable revenues in the future. We shouldn't talk about changing one portion of our tax code without looking at the code as a whole. Business property taxes are too high in many cases, but we also don't want to unfairly punish homeowners.
3. Would you support a statewide property tax to raise revenue?
Terri Proud: No. We want more taxpayers, not more taxes. Arizonans are hurting, so putting an additional burden on them is the wrong thing to do. We've lost over 300,000 jobs in this state and many businesses have gone or gone under due to high taxation. We mustn't penalize the remaining companies. We have the ability to grow out of this recession and deficit. With the right leadership, we'll do just that.
Vic Williams: We need to find parity in our tax code and move away from our dependency on sales tax. We should strive to find equal amounts of revenue between income, sales and property taxation. You could use the analogy that our tax code should be like a three-legged stool. Each leg should be equal in length and bear the same amount of weight to support state services.
Nancy Young Wright: No.
4. Do you think the state funds schools at an adequate level? Why or why not?
Terri Proud: The D.C. school system has the highest spending and the worst results in the country. Today in Arizona we're spending more and getting poorer results than we've gotten in the past. The Arizona State Auditors report has found that some school districts are mismanaging their budgets. We cannot ignore these reports. The answer lies not in giving more money to administrations, which are misusing what they have. The answer is to raise standards, not spending.
Vic Williams: First, some facts from the Auditor General's website www.azauditor.gov. The Amphitheater Unified School District, home to over half of the voters in LD26, received $8,589 per-pupil funding for 15,088 students in 20 schools for FY 2009. Total spending per-pupil increased 44 percent in Amphi over the past five years. Currently, 41.5 percent of all dollars spent are allocated outside of the classroom. Current funding levels would be adequate if the following two measures were to happen. One, the state needs to lessen the regulatory burden allowing greater flexibility to the individual districts. Two, with the increased flexibility districts need to drive more dollars to the classroom and away from non-classroom expenditures.
Nancy Young Wright: Our schools are not funded at an adequate level because the majority in the legislature and the governor chose to make the largest cut to education in state history when they cut $1.2 billion last year. We need to make sure our students get a quality education so they are prepared for the global economy and we can get Arizona's businesses and economy moving again. The business community has clearly stated that we must invest in our K-12 and university systems in order for them to attract and maintain the workforce they need.
Pima Community College associate's degree, paralegal; Brodsky School of Real Estate
Never held office
Originally from Missouri
Small business owner
GED; some college
Arizona state representative since 2008
Nancy young Wright
Program Coordinator, Pima County Public Library, 2007-2008; Executive Director,
MFA, Creative Writing, University of Arizona
BA, Journalism, New Mexico State University
State Representative 2008-2010; Amphitheater School Board 1996-2006
Tucumcari, New Mexico