I am pleased that I was part of a bipartisan coalition of House and Senate members this past legislative session that was successful in increasing funding for education, restoring funding for Child Protective Services and passing Medicaid expansion. It was a productive session but there is more work to be done. There will no doubt be continued progress this coming session, but I am convinced that my voice is needed beyond 2014. For that reason, I have filed to run for reelection to my fourth term in the Arizona State House of Representatives. I want to continue to represent the people of the 28th Legislative District.
Two years ago, when I decided to run for my third term, I could not have known the important role that holding onto my legislative seat would play in our state's future. I did not foresee that the tens of thousands of volunteer hours that helped me to get reelected, by the slightest of margins, would be instrumental in the passage of the expansion of Medicaid. Moreover, I did not expect to be in a position to engage in final budget negotiations with the Governor and Republican leadership -- a privilege I was granted thanks to the trust placed in me by House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, and the support of my constituents.
Although the work is not yet done, we took a big step in the right direction. Medicaid expansion will offer critical health care coverage for hundreds of thousands of Arizonans and will have far-reaching economic benefits. It will add $8 billion to our state's economy and create thousands of local jobs. It will also reduce the number of uninsured people in Arizona, which will contribute to the fiscal stability of our health care system. Medicaid will decrease the unsustainable level of uncompensated care that hospitals have been forced to provide in the last few years. As an emergency medicine physician I look forward to being involved as the plan is implemented.
In addition to expanding Medicaid, the budget we passed also provides:
- $116 million for schools to cover rising inflation costs, building renewal grants, school safety, and adult education programs
- $31.7 million for higher education in performance- based funding, the University of Arizona Medical School, rural community colleges, and the Navajo Technical College
- $64.4 million for Child Protective Services
- $250,000 to expand the Mental Health First Aid Program
- $20.6 million for Arizona State Parks and tourism
On another note, this was the first session in 15 years that no anti-women's health bills passed the legislature. My hope is that this positive trend will continue and we will stop trying to deprive citizens of their constitutional right to make decisions in their private medical affairs.
I remain optimistic that we will succeed. My family and I value the continued support of the thousands of residents of District 28 and concerned citizens from across the state. Together, we all had a hand in moving the state forward. Thank you so much. Please don't hesitate to contact me about any legislative issue.
All my best,