It's five days later, and I still feel high from our unprecedented demonstration of bipartisan moderation on the State Senate floor on Thursday.
As I shared with you on that magical evening, Republicans stood with Democrats in the face of relentless ideological attacks over the course of nearly twelve hours and stood strong through vote after vote and reconsideration after reconsideration to approve the Governor's Medicaid restoration plan and a humane budget that invests in K-12 and Higher Education, Child Protective Services, State Parks and Arts Commission grants, Economic Development policies, and Adult Education and Literacy, all while not raising taxes and ensuring a budget surplus over the next three years.
Here's the brief update I promised you during the last Farley Report:
I have served seven sessions in the Legislature. I have never before experienced a day like today. Together with five brave Republicans -- Majority Leader John McComish, Majority Whip Adam Driggs, Rich Crandall, Steve Pierce, and Bob Worsley, we 13 Senate Democrats amended and passed budget bills to invest in Child Protective Services, K-12 and Higher Education, State Parks and Arts Commission grants, Adult Education and Literacy, and above all, the Governor's Medicaid restoration plan to cover 300,000 more people in poverty, save our hospitals and boost our economy. The bills now move to the House for consideration.
I believe I previously shared with you my analogy of the legislature as a middle school. That analogy is particularly apt as we approach approving a budget, as we began to do this morning.
Just like 7th and 8th grades, for the last few days rumors of all kinds have run rampant, cliques have formed and broken, fights have broken out then healed almost as quickly, and adrenaline is reaching a peak. Huge lines in the sand are easily crossed and then forgotten, reputations are made and then broken, and hope and fear fight over the same space in our consciousness.
Before we launch into this week's legislative (in)action, I want to share my sadness at the loss of a truly great Tucsonan, Mort Tuller, known to generations as the owner of Tuller Trophy. He died last Wednesday at age 91, and you can read more about Mort in this Star story about his life.
Welcome to the new Monday, according to the legislative calendar. This is the first week of who-knows-how-many in which we will meet only on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays due to the dwindling number of bills and the holdups on Medicaid restoration, the budget, and the TPT simplification.
It certainly would be more advantageous to the people of Arizona if we could get those three things done and then go home, but lord knows the people of Arizona don't run this place.
Excerpt from the Senate Rules:
Length of Session
A. Except as provided herein, regular sessions shall be adjourned sine die no later than Saturday of the week in which the one hundredth day from the beginning of each regular session falls. The President may by declaration authorize the extension of the session for a period of not to exceed seven additional days. Thereafter the session can be extended only by the Senate by a majority vote of the members present.
Today marks the 100th day of this year's legislative session.
Some days are tougher than others around here. This is one of them.
My heart goes out to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings and their families. We in Tucson know that the pain is immense, but senseless violence cannot stop the human spirit of love and hope. We are with you.
We are only two weeks away from the traditional end of session on the 100th day, but there's still no sign of a budget, and from what I hear inside the Republican caucus, no progress towards one.
Timelines are hard to predict in this molasses-slow legislating environment. Bills are still dribbling slowly through the process, including my SB1162 to allow small businesses to file sales tax returns less often and use those revenues as short-term cash-flow, without costing the state a dime. It passed through House Committee of the Whole last Thursday, and awaits a Third Reading before it comes back over for a final passage in the Senate.
Ack, there is so much to talk about today, it's hard to figure out where to begin.
I might as well start with the Daily Show.
For years now, I've been telling folks that one of my goals was to get the Arizona Legislature off the front page of the Daily Show website. Sadly, this appears not to be the year we regain respect from the rest of the country.
You know that feeling you get when you've been carrying a heavy backpack for a long time, and then you take it off -- like walking on the moon? That's kind of what it's like this week at the Legislature.
There's still action, but now that regular standing committees have ceased meeting (except for Appropriations and Rules) the pace has slowed considerably, and the weirdness of this session is beginning to sink in.