Last week, we talked about how the drawn out budget talks could impact the GOP's ability to retain power in both bodies of the legislature. With the release of their latest budget plan, their march towards losing the Senate may have taken one step closer.
At the center of the Republican's budget plan is the taking of approximately $210 million in impact fees away from the local cities and towns as well as grabbing $300 million from schools. Can these Senators survive criticism from the local entities that they are sworn to represent? Looking at the "vulnerable" seats from last time around:
District 5 – (Currently held by Senator Sylvia Allen) This may not make as a big of a difference in this rural area, but the counties will be watching those fund sweeps.
District 7 – (Currently held by Jim Waring) Cave Creek and Carefree are already struggling from budget cuts and dramatic downturns in impact fees - this would only make the gap larger.
District 8 – (Currently held by Carolyn Allen) Scottsdale School district has already cut $30 million from their budget and while the GOP plan would be hailed by a conservative in the primary, they may not be as popular with General Election parents who have children in school.
District 10 – (Currently held by Linda Gray) Indendent voters tend to look at the connections between all levels of government - meaning they may not look favorably on a perceived shift of responsibility from the state to the cities. With a mere 2,800 Republican vote advantage in a district with a lot of independent voters, could this budget prove risky in holding the seat?
District 11 – (Currently held by Barbara Leff) Does Driggs support this plan only to be burdened with it during his attempt to take the Senate seat - especially with Meyer fighting the plan? Will the cuts to education plus the fact that even Paradise Valley has had to cut staff and budget impact voters?
District 12 – (Currently held by John Nelson) This large sized west valley district contains several cities who are feeling the pinch of the dramatic downturn in construction. In addition, taking away any impact fees that these cities have collected and dedicated to projects that are either under construction or already completed will make their budget short-falls even deeper. Goodyear is already facing a $13.9 million shortfall, Avondale is $3 million short, and Buckeye is dealing with foreclosures.
District 26 – (Currently held by Al Melvin) Given the leanings of Southern Arizona, the strength of the support for schools, and the fact that Melvin has been defeated in the past - a champion railing against these budget cuts could be successful.
District 30 – (Currently held by Jonathan Paton) If Paton stays, will he stand up to GOP leadership and oppose the millions in cuts to the universities? He has stood up in the past, but this may be a real test for him - his actions may determine what path he is considering for his next office.