Candidates for state Legislature in District 18 expressed support for education and uncertainty about health care during a forum Tuesday night.
The Valley Interfaith Project invited the candidates to speak to a packed house at St. James Episcopal Church in Tempe. The candidates were each given 90 seconds to answer questions on education and health care and were asked not to use their time to campaign or attack their opponents. All Republicans and Democrats running in LD 18 were in attendance, along with candidates from LD 26.
Republicans Jeff Dial, John McComish and Bob Robson all shared similar views in their answers. While none could promise they would not make further cuts to education, each said they would fight to get more funding to education. The three incumbents said they fought for more funding for education this past legislative session, increasing the amount given to third-grade reading programs from $10 million to $40 million.
McComish said he has an eight-year perspective in the Legislature. He was there when money was put into education and when it was taken out.
“Will I promise there will be no further cuts? No,” the Ahwatukee Foothills resident said. “How can I do that? I don’t know what the future holds. I didn’t like the cuts we did in the first place. It was painful. I want to add to education. We need more resources.”
Democrats Janie Hydrick, Darin Fisher and Corey Harris all gave promises to make no further cuts to education but to instead move funds around.
“When we were running out of money for education we went to the voters and they said yes, fund education,” Fisher said. “The priorities are there and that’s what we need to focus on.”
When asked about health care the Republican candidates said the jury was still out on what will be happening with health care in Arizona in the next few years but if the decision came down to a state-run program or a federal program, each candidate would choose the state control. McComish said he’d like to expand Medicaid enrollment by investing as much state money as we can afford to draw down the maximum federal match.
Hydrick, Harris and Fisher all stated there needs to be a bigger investment in health care and while there may still be some missing pieces it makes sense for Arizona to run its own health care and take advantage of federal subsidies. All three Democrats stated health care is a right.
The forum was hosted by Valley Interfaith Project (VIP), a non-partisan organization of congregations, schools, unions and nonprofits. Candidates from LD 26 and Doyle Burke, who is running for the Maricopa County Community College District, also answered questions during the forum.
For more information on VIP and its stance on issues in this election, visit valleyinterfaithprojectaz.com.
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