“If you had told Arizonans in January that the Legislature would pass a truly balanced budget, save a state retirement system on the verge of collapse, inject millions of dollars into the economy with a major Jobs Bills, and do it all in 100 days, it would have seemed like a pretty tall order. But your Legislature did just that in this Centennial Session.
The challenges were enormous as we began the 50th Regular Session. Arizona had a 26 year high unemployment rate, a billion-dollar budget deficit, and we were spending much more than we were bringing in. Republican leadership in the House and Senate, with the support of Governor Brewer, knew we couldn’t go on like this, or we would risk the financial future of our children and grandchildren. So we committed to turning Arizona around.
The result of that commitment: the first balanced budget in five years, with no new gimmicks, no new rollovers and no new borrowing. It was done in the worst economic climate most of us have lived through. Lawmakers could have taken the easy route and relied on more games, but we knew voters sent us here to make tough decisions.
We also knew going into the year that we needed to create jobs in this state if we were ever going to see brighter days. That’s why we passed a historic and compressive Jobs Bill in the first 40 days of the session that represents the largest permanent tax cut in Arizona history.
For years, politicians had kicked the can down the road, refusing to address soaring entitlement spending and flaws in our vulnerable pension system. Well, we took on both.
In fact, our pension system was so upside-down that our commitments to teachers, firemen and police officers were in grave jeopardy. Under our comprehensive plan, elected officials will pay more for our retirement. We’ve also done our best to block the potential for people to abuse the system through double-dipping and other schemes revealed in a series by the Arizona Republic.
Standing up to the Obama administration, we are working to renegotiate our Medicaid program, which is more generous than 44 states, has more than 1 in 5 Arizonans on medical welfare and will explode like a time bomb under Obamacare if we don’t reform it now.
We did all this while also addressing border security and violent crime in our neighborhoods, and even passing legislation to give parents more choices in education.
Our problems aren’t all solved. There’s still plenty of work to do and lots of tough decisions to come in the months and years ahead.
But by telling the truth to the people of Arizona and making bold decisions over the last 100 days, we are one giant step closer to brighter days for the great state of Arizona.”