An Education System that Works For Everyone

We need to completely rethink our education system -- from Pre-k through College -- to create a world-class system that can power the Arizona economy for the 21st century. 

We will never be able to do that as long as we fund our k12 system at such low levels.  While we’ve made important progress on teacher pay, we need to dramatically reduce class sizes and invest in our crumbling facilities. 

In Aaron’s first session in the legislature, he worked closely with colleagues across the aisle to successfully double funding for teachers to go back to school to pursue their STEM certification.  Here’s a video filmed with an amazing group of science teacher advocates right after the House Appropriations Committee voted on his amendment to double the funding (which ended up making it into the budget at that higher level).

We also need to offer universal pre-k for all four-year-olds. Four decades of research has demonstrated that high-quality pre-k saves states and the federal government money in terms of dollars that are not needed to be spent later on.  The best estimates show a return of $13 for every $1 spent.  38 other states have moved forward on increasing funding for pre-k over the last decade while Arizona has moved backward.  We can and must do better.

Bills that Aaron has sponsored or co-sponsored on this topic:

HB2806 appropriations; preschool development grants

HB2645 appropriations; early childhood; block grants

CHARTER SCHOOL ACCOUNTABILITY

There is a role for charters to play in terms of providing additional options for children and families – but they need much more accountability and transparency. Good strong charters should welcome more transparency – if you are doing the right thing, it doesn’t matter who knows it. Since charters are funded with our tax dollars they should be held to the same procurement standards as our public schools.

Bills that Aaron has sponsored or co-sponsored on this topic:

HB2325 charter schools; administrative costs; cap

HB2326 charter schools; financial reform; appropriation

HB2221 charter school board members; conflicts

HELPING with COLLEGE ACCESS: Arizona’s Promise

Arizona has set a state-wide goal of having 60% of all students go on to some form of post-secondary education -- but today just 48% of our high school graduates do so. At the same time, we have 120,000 “opportunity youth” ages 18 to 25 who are not working nor in school 

We must take steps to make college more affordable -- and attainable -- for those students.  Over a decade ago, the legislature zeroed out state funding for our community colleges in Pima and Maricopa Counties.  We need to reverse these cuts and launch robust state funding scholarship programs to help more Arizona’s go to college -- and power our economy. 

Launching an Arizona’s Promise program that provides up to $4000 in annual funding for students who want to attend a community college and have saved up $500 of their money will do exactly that.  We should invest in an Arizona’s Promise program to help 24,000 students get to and through our community colleges.

Bills that Aaron has sponsored or co-sponsored on this topic:

SB1191 students; community college grants

SB1661 promise scholarship program; ADOA; appropriation

HB2804 community colleges; financial benefits; study

Letting our Cities and Towns Regulate AirBnBs

Unregulated AirBnBs are running rampant in our neighborhoods. This problem was caused by the legislature, which passed SB1350 in 2015 and effectively banned our cities and towns from regulating AirBnBs at all.  We need to repeal this law.  What works in Phoenix is different than what works in Paradise Valley which is different than what works in Sedona.  The best solutions usually come from those closest to the problems -- we need to go back to letting our cities and towns figure out the best way forward in this area.

Click here to read an OpEd that Aaron wrote in the Paradise Valley Independent.

Bills that Aaron has sponsored or co-sponsored on this topic:

HB2001 online home sharing; repeal

HCR2037 short-term rentals; vacation rentals

 

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JOBS

As an entrepreneur, Aaron knows what it takes to succeed in the private sector, and he wants Arizona to be the best state in the nation to start and grow a business.  He also knows companies can’t be great unless they have great employees. 

Most employers in Arizona are struggling to hire qualified applicants for key positions.  The single best thing we can do to help grow jobs in Arizona is to produce skilled and talented workers who will help companies thrive. Fully-funding our K12 system, launching UPK AZ, and an Arizona’s Promise effort to make college more affordable.  Then we will at least begin to have the foundational pieces in place for an educational system that can produce the workers we need to power the next great wave of Arizona companies.

The John McCain Public Service Scholarship Fund

We should also make a special investment as a state in providing additional help with college or graduate level study for young people who have completed a term of service through AmeriCorps in the State of Arizona. 

The John McCain Public Service Scholarship Fund would match dollar for dollar the federally-funded Education Award (essentially, a scholarship) given to AmeriCorps members who serve in the State of Arizona.  The federal award is now $5,920. The federal award combined with the special Arizona award would be enough to completely cover the costs of a two-year associate's degree program at our community colleges.

Bills that Aaron has sponsored or co-sponsored on this topic:

HB2639 public service scholarship fund

THE ENVIRONMENT

Arizona is the most beautiful state in the country. We need common sense environmental protections to ensure we pass a flourishing state to our children and grandchildren.  This should include exploring efforts to encourage electrification of our vehicles -- especially our school buses which are purchased with public dollars and whose pollution often triggers negative health effects in children.

We need to thoughtfully address the water issues facing our state -- not as Democrats or Republicans but as Arizonans.  We have a proud tradition of dealing with water issues on a bi-partisan basis, and we need to get back to that approach to ensure we have some common sense approaches to metering wells and ensuring foreign governments are not taking advantage of our watershed for their narrow interests.

When the City of Phoenix proposed routing a pipeline through undisturbed land in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve near Piestewa Peak, Aaron responded to neighbors pleas and got involved directly. Having grown up in that area, he identified a different route for the pipeline alongside Route 51 that minimized damage to the Preserve and the neighborhood. Aaron reached out to the Arizona Department of Transportation and helped connect the City and ADOT, who were able to work out an agreement for an alternate route for the pipeline.  The result: 14 acres of preserve at the 22nd Street trailhead will remain undisturbed and pristine.

ENERGY: THE ARIZONA X PRIZE FOR SOLAR STORAGE

We should be pursuing policies that encourage the development and use of renewable energy sources. We have more days of sunshine than any other state. We should encourage SRP and APS to restore net metering on a dollar for dollar basis for rooftop solar. And we should launch a solar X Prize for any company that can help make a quantum leap forward in battery storage technology to allow us to retain and redeploy solar energy in the evening hours.

Equal Rights for All

Aaron is a proud advocate of equal rights for women and a fighter for our LGBTQ community. Aaron proudly supported the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment in his first legislative session.  If Arizona had adopted the ERA at that time, we would have been the 38th State to do so, potentially putting it over the two-thirds threshold required for national adoption.

Common Sense Criminal Justice Reform

Over the last 10 years, the state of Arizona has doubled what we spend on the Department of Corrections while cutting our support for community colleges and state universities almost in half. This is the exact opposite of how we should be investing our state dollars, and we need to implement common sense criminal justice reforms to reverse this disturbing trend.  

Too many of our prisoners are in prison for crimes involving drugs that hurt no one but themselves.  These are addicts who need treatment -- and almost none of them get the treatment they need in prison. We need basic diversion programs to keep non-violent offenders out of prisons in the first place, and sentencing reform to allow prisoners with good behaviour to get out of jail sooner so they can get the help they need to successfully re-enter society.

Bills that Aaron has sponsored or co-sponsored on this topic:

HB2422 coordinated reentry planning services programs

HB2519 undesignated felony; misdemeanor designation

Bills that Aaron has sponsored or co-sponsored on this topic:

HB2803 ppropriation; electric school buses

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HEALTHCARE: REDUCING COSTS AND EXPANDING OPTIONS

With many citizens in our state working in non-traditional jobs, we desperately need to identify cost-effective healthcare solutions. Representative Kelli Butler’s proposal to allow adults to buy into the state’s Medicaid plan, which is a national leader in both controlling costs and ensuring quality, is a strong step in the right direction.

Aaron is proud to support his seatmate Representative Butler's important bills to expand access to high quality health care. We should also expand eligibility for KidsCare in our state -- so more working parents can afford to provide health care for their children.  A modest additional state investment can almost double the number of Arizona children eligible for this important federal program. We also need to provide dental care for pregnant women on AHCCCS -- as we know problems with oral care can lead directly to premature births. 

These are common sense solutions that can both help reduce costs and expand options for all workers. 

Bills that Aaron has sponsored or co-sponsored on this topic:

HB2727 AHCCCS; pregnant women; dental care.

HB2596 children's health insurance program; eligibility

B-I-N-G-O!

When a group of seniors at a mobile home park in LD28 were running into problems with how the Department of Revenue regulates their community’s social BINGO game, Aaron met with them directly and listened to their issues.  He then worked with senior leadership at DOR and Republicans in the House and the Senate to come up with a proposed solution.  The resulting bill was unanimously supported in the House’s Commerce Committee and passed out of the House with overwhelming bi-partisan support. It was on-track to be heard on the floor of the Senate and sent on to the Governor when the session was shut down due to COVID19. 

Bills that Aaron has sponsored or co-sponsored on this topic:

HB2522 bingo; licenses; taxes.

TAXES: REVIEW SPECIAL DEALS EVERY YEAR

Today, 75% of the corporations in Arizona pay the minimum tax of $50 dollars because they effectively have ZERO tax liability based on the credits and loopholes that are shot through our tax code.

We need to review every tax credit and loophole on an annual basis and evaluate if they have effectively helped grow our economy or not. If this answer is no, they are simply a give-away to special interests and these loopholes should be closed.

Bills that Aaron has sponsored or co-sponsored on this topic:

HB2873 income tax credits; repeal

DIRTY MONEY

Arizona is ground zero for dirty money because of bad choices made by our legislature and signed into law by our governor. Republicans and Democrats need to work together to reverse the sorry state of affairs - starting with support for Terry Goddard’s Outlaw Dirty Money effort. Aaron will advocate for and support legislation that requires full disclosure from any independent expenditure group.

Bills that Aaron has sponsored or co-sponsored on this topic:

HCR2029 campaign finance; source disclosure

Infrastructure and Trade

Investing in our infrastructure -- including building the proposed I-11 corridor between Mexico and Las Vegas -- is a great example of an investment that the state can make right now and will quickly begin yielding real benefits in revenue.  We can do so if we stop raiding the highway user revenue fund (hurf) and instead spend our road funds on roads.

Our location along the border with Mexico provides us with a natural advantage, yet we lag far behind other border states in cross-border trade. Arizona should do all it can to help ensure the successful development of a deep -water port in Puerto Peñasco, or Rocky Point, which would immediately create a much higher demand for goods and services from Arizona. Investing in our infrastructure can help Arizona gain ground in this critical area.