Ahwatukee’s three members of the Arizona Legislature say they’ll be pushing for more resources for education and to help small businesses hurt by the pandemic during the upcoming legislative session.
In appearances before Chandler City Council last month and an online conference sponsored last week by the Chandler Chamber of Commerce, Sen. Sean Bowie and Reps. Jennifer Jermaine and Mitzi Epstein outlined their major priorities.
During a recent meeting with the Chandler City Council, the delegation discussed how the lingering health crisis may affect the state’s budget and any bills they might introduce next month.
Bowie told Chandler Council he would like to address the state’s lack of affordable housing, an issue that has worsened in recent years as housing prices skyrocket and the number of available homes shrinks.
“I’m hoping we can do something around affordable housing whether it’s a tax credit or it’s an investment in our housing trust fund,” Bowie said.
During the Chandler Chamber discussion, Bowie reiterated his determination to continue to address not only K-12 education but higher education and defend against expected efforts to curb early mailing after numerous unproven attacks stemming from Trump’s defeat in Arizona.
“Education is always at the forefront of my mind,” Bowie said, noting that Republicans from neighboring LD17 who were in the Chamber presentation talked about the need to grow business in Arizona.
“It’s difficult to do that if we’re not making investments in education,” Bowie said. “We’ve made some progress in recent years, but we still have a long way to go strictly around higher education. Arizona has cut more from higher education than any state in the country.
“Our universities have really struggled during COVID-19. So my hope is we can make some additional investments in higher education.”
During the Chandler City Council session, Jermaine said she wanted to focus on more help for businesses with fewer than 15 employees because they’re the backbone of the local economy and need additional support.
In both the council and the Chamber sessions, Jermaine also said domestic violence will be a high priority for her as will the issue of missing women, particularly on reservations.
“I’m going to have a lot of legislation related to that work with missing persons,” she said, “and some victim services reforms for law enforcement agencies so that people who are victims of violent crime can get the services that they need and those who are surviving family members can get reimbursement from the state Victim Compensation Fund for funeral costs and for any other counseling services that they may need.”
In both the Chandler Council and Chamber sessions, Epstein was particularly emphatic on helping small businesses – especially by addressing the dwindling reserves in the state Unemployment Trust Fun.
The trust fund has dropped substantially over the last few months, Epstein said, noting it has fallen from $1.2 billion to $80 million.
She also said she wants to find a
solution to the looming deficit that
will not put the burden for fixing it on businesses.
“If the Legislature doesn’t do anything, that’s what’s going to happen,” she said. “It’ll all land on small businesses.”