Redistricting may challenge creation of jobs, improved education
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Arizona State Rep. Tom Chabin, who represents the Hopi area, points to an article in the Capital Times that says Democrats could have an equal amount of members to the Republicans in the state Senate after the November election.
"This will radically change the game for more moderates so we can focus on the challenges to create jobs and education," he said.
Democrats say that for the first time in more than a decade Republicans will need some of their votes. This could mean more funding for education and health care programs.
Rep. Chabin said at minimum there will be more Democrats in both houses. For the past two years, the Republicans in the state legislature had a supermajority in both houses and didn't need Democratic votes to pass their bills, including budget cuts.
Chabin said Republicans continued to cutback funding toward education and health care during the last legislative session.
"I fought against every cut," he said.
Chabin is running for state Senate in District 6, which will include San Carlos and White Mountain Apache as well as the Hopi, Havasupai and Hualapai, which was already in the district. The new District 6 also includes a large part of the Flagstaff area, the Verde Valley and Payson.
Chabin is running unopposed in the Democratic primary, but will face Republican Chester Crandall in the general election. Democrats Doug Ballard and Angela LeFevre are running unopposed in the primary, but will face Republicans Brenda Barton and Robert Thorpe in the general election for the two house seats in the district.
Chabin introduced a bill that would eliminate Democratic and Republican primaries. There would just be one primary for everybody with the top two going onto the general election.
"We should all vote for the person and not the party label," he said. "If we shed the party label, then we vote for the person and not be prejudice. Ideas should be judged, not party label."
Chabin hopes the bill passes during the next legislative session.
Chabin said during the past legislative session that the groundwork was laid to bring more revenue sharing to Arizona's reservations for taxes that the state gets from there. He said this could receive bipartisan support in the future.
"This is a formidable issue that takes time," he said.
Chabin credits former State Sen. Jack Jackson Sr. with working on this issue for years.
"It takes time, but we're getting closer," Chabin said. "Republicans thought it was a novelty, but now they're more engaged because it's a fairness issue.
On another issue, Chabin said the U.S. Forest Service's recent approval of a permit for Dennison Mines to mine uranium near the Grand Canyon is "dangerous and foolish." He said any type of uranium mining accident there will contaminate the water supply in the Colorado River, which millions of people use for drinking water.
Chabin said there is no need for uranium mines at such an important place when there are active uranium mining claims in many other places.
"We will not run out of uranium if we don't have this operation," he said. "So, why would we risk it?
Regarding Obamacare, Chabin said for those with private health insurance the recent Supreme Court decision mandates that at least 80 percent goes to the provider.
"All of us who use private health care see the fight between doctors and hospitals with insurance companies. In the end, we end up paying the bill," he said. "Obamacare mandates that insurance companies pay our bills no matter how high."
Chabin pointed out that the day after the Supreme Court backed Obamacare that the stock for hospitals went up and the stock for insurance companies went down.
"Romney-Obamacare is good for all of us," he said.
Chabin said the Supreme Court stated that the federal government could not force states to expand health care for the poor beyond what they do now, so it will be up to the state whether to expand health care for the poor.
"The legislature should not make this decision. This should be on the ballot because each and every expansion in health care has been the decision of the voters," he said.
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