Given that the Grand Canyon state has long embraced the lunatic fringe, its reputation as a place where the crazier you are the more likely you are to be elected to office is well earned. Those of us who try to keep the state from full on insanity often comfort ourselves with reminders about Texas. Mississippi, and Alabama as in, “did you hear what they did in Alabama? At least we haven’t gone that far.”
Those moments when we’re not the worst state in the union are what keeps many of us going. But our new governor and the 52nd legislature appear determined to put Arizona in the worst state category in every possible way.
The state’s recent history of gutting higher education:
According to the nonprofit Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Arizona ranks first in the country in steep cuts to higher education budgets. The state cut spending during the Great Recession, and funding remains at pre-recession levels. Both the Maricopa and Pima districts saw the most dramatic state decreases from 2011 to 2012. Maricopa’s state funding decreased by more than $38 million. (Inside HigherEd, March 12, 2014)
The state’s most recent budget zero outs funding for community colleges and cuts $110 billion from state universities. And while the governor claims to prioritize K-12 in this budget, allocations still don’t meet what’s required of the state nor has the state made up the more than $1.6 billion in back payments K-12 schools had to sue for. Yes, that’s right. The K-12 school had to sue the legislature for not meeting its mandated education funding.
But it seems Ducey and the 52nd Legislature are not content with being the worst state in funding education; no, they want to be the most lawless state as well. I guess they feel some nostalgia for the outlaws and vigilantes that kept the state out of the union for a good many years.
Here are just a few recent bills from the state house and senate that
House Bill 2015, declaring that henceforth the sovereign state of Arizona will not ‘enforce, administer or cooperate’ if the Environmental Protection Agency and/or the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers try to ensure that water is clean in any Arizona creek, wash or river that runs only part of the year.
And HB 2368, declaring that henceforth the sovereign state of Arizona will not ‘enforce, administer or cooperate’ with any executive order issued by the president of the United States or any policy directive issued by the United States Department of Justice unless said executive order or policy directive has been approved by Congress and signed into law.
And HB 2058, declaring that henceforth, the sovereign state of Arizona will not use ‘any personnel or financial resources to enforce, administer or cooperate with any rule, regulation or policy directive issued by an agency, board, commission, department or other entity of the federal government unless the rule, regulation or policy directive has been affirmed by a vote of Congress and signed into law as prescribed by the Constitution.’
And HB 2643, declaring that henceforth, the sovereign state of Arizona and its subdivisions ‘are prohibited from using any personnel or financial resources to enforce, administer or cooperate with the Affordable Care Act.’
Meanwhile, the Senate passed SB 1330, declaring that henceforth the sovereign state of Arizona ‘shall not … knowingly and willingly participate in any way’ in the enforcement of any future federal gun laws. Any government employee who seeks to assist a federal agent enforce one of these demon laws shall be immediately fined, charged with a class one misdemeanor and put in stocks in the public square.
Our state legislature is almost as good at passing unconstitutional laws as our sheriff is at violating civil rights. Both cost the tax payers millions of dollars in court fees each year, yet they are re-elected without much opposition, and if there is opposition, it’s usually from someone even crazier who wins in a landslide.
I’m sure the saner among the citizens of Texas, Alabama and Mississippi are grateful, and they’ll likely continue to be. Because if there’s one thing AZ seems to excel at, it’s electing the craziest among us.