Brent Fine

Independent Brent Fine during the Legislative District 18 Candidates Clean Elections Debate on Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012.

[David Jolkovski/AFN]

Why are you running for office?

My motivation for running is two-fold: 1) to offer a socially moderate, fiscally conservative candidate who is neither tied to a party or an ideology and is willing to work with all sides (within reason) to come up with sensible and pragmatic solutions; and 2) to focus on our broken political system that has allowed special interests and lobbyists to control, more than ever, our policy decisions, through the corrupting power of money and influence.* My candidacy, and hopefully election, would show that it is possible to put power back into the hands of the voters (where it belongs), who have been left out of the equation for too long.

*By fiscal conservative, I do not mean that I want to slash taxes. It means that we need to be efficient and effective with our tax dollars.

What issue will be your biggest priority if/when elected?

Reforming the budget process, which takes into account several issues:

A) Create the independent commission that looks at how much revenue and spending the state needs to run programs efficiently and effectively, including education, health care and other government services. The Legislature has been negligent in not planning for 10, 20, 30 years into future as to what amount of revenue and spending the state will need.

B) “Truth in Budgeting” — Stop the “shell game“ of sweeping funds dedicated for specific purposes (e.g., state parks, mortgage settlement) to the General Fund; and making the budget process transparent by giving enough advance public notice of hearings and making them more accessible for public testimony (e.g., holding informational hearings around the state; using video conferencing).

C) End tax giveaways to corporations and other special interests — two-thirds to three-fourths of corporations only paid the $50 minimum tax between 1994 and 2008 (including many profitable companies), according to a November 2011 story in the Arizona Republic, at the expense of properly funding education (classroom and maintenance, not administration), children’s health care and other essential state services. Arizona has forfeited $3 billion in annual revenue through tax cuts over the last two decades with little or no benefit in terms of net new jobs and revenue, and that will grow to $5 billion when all the new tax cuts passed in 2011 and 2012 are fully in place.

D) Enact tough ethics and lobbyist reform to stop the “buying” of legislative access and influence by special interests through free meals, gifts (e.g., sports tickets) and other remuneration.

What are your qualifications for this office?

• Twenty five years as a writer/journalist covering public policy issues in Arizona.

• Twenty years as research analyst and economics writer for state agency producing employment and wage data for Arizona, counties, and local communities.

• Testified before state, local legislative bodies on tax, public policy and zoning issues.

• Wrote yearly analysis of state legislation covering employment, economic development and labor issues for quarterly newsletter, Arizona Economic Trends, for 14 years at state agency.

• Member of Gov. Janet Napolitano’s Efficiency Review Task Force (2003-2005), which found $300 million in annual savings, from changes such as self-insuring the state’s workforce, getting rid of more than 1,000 state vehicles, and numerous energy saving measures.

• MA, print journalism, University of Southern California; BS, business administration (finance), University of Louisville.

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