Arizona Capitol Times: Arizona’s Elected Officials: Don’t Lose Sight of Voter Priorities
As newly elected leaders settle into their new and familiar roles at the state legislature, it’s important to remember that the priorities of Arizonans carry weight beyond the campaign trail. Voters will be watching political deliberations at the Capitol and expecting their leaders to deliver on the things that matter most to them.
With a Democrat as governor and a Republican-controlled legislature, the potential for gridlock seems more likely — on paper — than the possibility of progress. But, at Center for the Future of Arizona (CFA), we believe debilitating legislative gridlock can be avoided if elected leaders simply heed what we know about Arizonans – that they agree on much more than they disagree on the most important issues facing our state and want leaders to deliver on those issues.
Based on the results of three major comprehensive surveys commissioned by CFA over the past two years and the results of the 2022 election, Arizonans have indicated that they’re more interested in actionable solutions than obstinate ideology. They are looking to elected leaders to negotiate and compromise in the service of progress and appreciate those who work across the aisle to bring practical solutions to fruition.
Because, in the end, Arizona voters are more united than divided on the issues of most importance to the future of our state, from education to housing to taxes. With common ground among voters, it only stands to reason that elected officials could work together to find solutions to our most pressing issues. CFA’s survey research has found high levels of agreement in a number of areas, including the following:
- Arizonans want an education system that works for all students. Nearly all want to see more excellent and qualified teachers in classrooms, with strong principals providing strategic leadership. Almost nine of every 10 want to see teachers paid more. And eight in 10 want more education funding and to close educational outcomes gaps.
- Housing affordability. Too many Arizonans feel the effects of rising rents and housing prices, so it’s not surprising that increasing housing affordability is important to 79% of Arizonans. Nearly 80% want to see more workforce housing options for essential workers and think landlords should not be allowed to discriminate against people who use housing assistance to pay their rent.
- Arizonans believe our tax system is fair. They are not clamoring for a tax cut, with 82% preferring instead to invest budget surpluses in education, infrastructure, and other public services.
- Water & Environment. Arizonans resoundingly support practices to protect our water, air, and environment and sustainably manage resources. A near-unanimous 95% say securing Arizona’s water future and long-term water supplies is a top priority. Four in five Arizonans support improving air quality, while 3 in 4 support making the transition to clean energy which is key to creating new jobs and reducing pollution. And 85% support the state investing the available federal funding to address these issues along with energy improvement in rural areas, electric grid resiliency, and forest fires.
Arizonans aren’t interested in election denial and inflammatory falsehoods. November’s election results confirmed that. They’re interested in progress.
Addressing these issues – and, more importantly, developing and implementing practical solutions to our most pressing challenges – will undoubtedly take hard work, creativity, and commitment. And it might seem like an impossible task. But that’s what our elected leaders are elected to do - serve the interests of the voters who put them in office.
Gridlock and political posturing do nothing to solve the very real challenges Arizona is facing. The only way forward is together, through discussion, negotiation, and compromise, and across the aisle. And Arizona voters, who couldn’t agree more, are watching.
Sybil Francis, Ph.D., is president & CEO of Center for the Future of Arizona, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that brings Arizonans together to create a stronger and brighter future for our state.