Progressive legislators stood strong in the 2019 legislative session and were able to continue to articulate the bold vision outlined in the Sunrise Agenda. Progressive discipline helped produce better policy outcomes on education, the environment and democracy for Arizonans.
In Defense of Democracy
While progressives do not control either chamber, they were able to exert their influence and temper conservatives’ overreach. They successfully killed bills that would have made voting less accessible for eligible voters in Arizona. They successfully stopped legislation that would purge voters on the permanent early voting list and legislation that would cripple the ability to have voter registration drives.
Progressives were also able to work across the aisle and exert their influence to pass one of the most significant pieces of water legislation in Arizona’s history. The Drought Contingency Plan allows Arizona to join six other western states and Mexico in signing onto an inter-state water agreement and spells out ways Arizona will contribute to conserving more water from the Colorado River.
The Budget Fight
The conservatives refused to debate many of the priorities that Arizonans identify as critical—like affordable healthcare and housing—and instead fought for priorities that rig the rules for the wealthy and big businesses and protect their own power.
Conservatives prioritized big tax cuts to the wealthy and big corporations while attacking minimum wage. In the budget, Flagstaff—the only city in Arizona to pay higher than the state minimum wage of $11—is now forced to reimburse the state for the difference in wages of state employees who make more than the state minimum wage.
Progressives were able stand strong, creating a political environment that forced a compromise on funding for education. Spending for K-12 will be $5.2 billion, about $500 million more than in the current year–not nearly enough to deal with our current education crisis, but still a win for Arizona students.
While the 2019 legislative session saw little progress on issues to help everyday Arizonans, progressive partners and legislators will continue to work with constituents and colleagues to build on the groundwork laid in 2019 to advance the priorities in the Sunrise Agenda: a stronger democracy; strong public schools; welcoming communities; a fair economy and cleaning up the tax code; and good stewardship of the state’s air, water and public lands.