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.
I first met Mort when I called him up to let him know that I'd selected his street photograph as one of the 14 featured on the Broadway Underpass murals just east of Downtown Tucson. The photo was an easy choice for me out of the 217 that were submitted by the public -- he and his wife Sylvia beamed joy and hope as they strutted proudly down Congress Street arm in arm, clad in white, celebrating their decision that day in 1953 to get out of jewelry and into trophies.
Mort reacted to my happy phone call by telling me this was more proof that he led a charmed life. He earned 10 battle stars during World War II without suffering injury, won the lottery, had the best family ever created, built the biggest trophy business in Southern Arizona and counted the White House among his clients, and always told the best worst jokes imaginable. He was a true treasure of a man, and will be missed. I am grateful that Mort lives on in our hearts and up on that wall.
In the Legislature, things have slowed to a crawl, and bad stuff we thought was buried keeps popping up while leadership tries to figure out when they will bring the Governor's Medicaid restoration proposal to the floor. Despite the open opposition from President Biggs, there are more than enough bipartisan votes to side with the Governor in the Senate. The House remains the body of mystery. No one really knows who has what position at any given time over there, but there are talks proceeding to find out.
In the meantime, there are no floor calendars at all in the House while we in the Senate are dredging up more bad things, including HCR2026 from Rep. Paul Boyer (R-Anthem), which would ask voters at the next election to eliminate Clean Elections and give the Clean Elections fund to education. Yes, education needs funding, but there are many sources from which to support our students, not the least of which would be the elimination of some of the more than $10 billion in tax loopholes in our sales tax code.
Gutting public funding of elections as we await an unprecedented flood of political money at the next election is a terrible idea. The infamous Citizens United Supreme Court decision has unleashed corporate independent spending, and my bill to rein in dark money was never heard. The legislative majority this session enacted into law dramatically increased contribution limits for legislative campaigns -- once set at $430 per contributor or PAC, that limit is now $4,000, and $8,000 for SuperPACs.
I cannot imagine in this context that voters would approve such a scheme, but even if they turn it down, placing HCR2026 on the ballot would cost millions in taxpayer dollars, something that would better be spent on… wait for it… Education!
To end on a bit of good news, Governor Brewer vetoed SB1439 (the Legal Tender bill) last Thursday, citing "administrative and fiscal burdens for both the taxpayers and the Department of Revenue," and rightly understanding that Arizona doesn't need any more embarrassments on the national stage. Indeed, the national stage was waiting for us to trip up on this -- the veto story was reported all over the country, including this article in the Chicago Tribune.
Who knew? Arizona can become famous again for our common sense! Let's cement that reputation by approving the Medicaid plan, getting a good budget done, Sine Die-ing, and going home. I have a feeling I'll be back next week with the same wishes, as yet unfulfilled.
Thanks for your faith in me as your Senator.
Senator, District 9, Tucson
Paid for by Friends O'Farley