Tea Party of Scottsdale, AZ
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Michelle Ugenti - February Column for LD 23

michelle_ugenti.jpegAs I begin my third term as a member of the Arizona House of Representatives I have been tasked with new responsibilities and look forward to addressing the many issues that continue to face Arizona.  It is with your continued support that I am able to advocate for smaller, more efficient government, a balanced budget while reducing our debt, and maintaining the crucial functions of government.

This year, I was appointed to serve as Chairman of the Elections Committee.   Voting and elections are crucial to our democracy.  On the heels of the recent election and numerous cases in the courts concerning voting and elections, a new committee was established to manage these issues.  As a member who knows all too well the challenges of attempting to reform the election process and having successfully done so, I welcome this role.

In 2012, I sponsored legislation to consolidate the date of all elections, which would have 

impacted propositions, bonds and candidates, but excluded special elections.  My goal was to increase voter turnout, reduce the cost of administering elections and provide consistency for voters.  Unfortunately, the influence of special interests reduced the impact of the bill to candidates only.   This concept, which was passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor, a former Secretary of State, is still being met with strong resistance and is currently being challenged in the courts. 

As the Chairman of the Elections Committee, I believe there should be greater transparency of campaign finances for candidates for municipal and county offices.  Further, I have attempted to increase information provided to voters on their ballot and was opposed by election officials who blame the limited ability of their voting machines.  Uniformity and modernization of election equipment will allow the legislature greater influence on the consistency and style of the voter’s ballot.  Voting and the integrity of our election system have an impact on us all and should not be designed to facilitate a certain outcome.  To ensure that integrity in the greatest way possible is to empower voters, increase participation and provide consistency in the administration of all elections.

For the fifth year, I will continue to serve as a member of the Appropriations Committee and I have also accepted a position to serve on the Ways and Means Committee.   Arizona’s current budget (Fiscal Year 2015) is $148 million out of balance, excluding cost associated with the K-12 inflation litigation.  Based on current projections, next year’s budget (Fiscal Year 2016) is $678 million out of balance, excluding any impacts from the K-12 inflation litigation.

Arizona’s Budget Stabilization (Rainy Day) Fund has a balance of $464 million.  In order to rebalance the current year budget and meet the constitutional requirement to balance next year’s budget, the legislature will need to adopt a budget that reduces permanent spending, utilizes the balance of the Rainy Day fund and transfer excess balances from existing funds.  We must resist the efforts of some to increase taxes in order to sustain spending.  The ultimate objective is to eliminate the structural deficit by aligning permanent revenues with permanent spending without the utilization of one time revenues.

 In keeping with Governor Ducey’s goals of reduce the regulatory burden on business and making government more efficient, I have reintroduced legislation to make the County regulatory structure more transparent and less cumbersome.  This is legislation that has received support from the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Arizona Rock Products Association and has passed in the House of Representatives the last two years.

I am continuing my efforts to diminish the influence of public unions on local governments and taxpayers.  Once again, I have introduced legislation to curtail paycheck protection.  I do not believe it is the responsibility of the taxpayer to support the funding of a private entity via the government.  As you are well aware, this legislation has meant strong opposition in the past and I expect to encounter it again.  It is through your efforts and continued support that I believe we will be successful this year.

 It is my privilege and honor to represent you in the legislature.  With your support we have successfully advocated for a more efficient and transparent government.   However, there is more to be done.  While some view Arizona’s current fiscal situation as a crisis, I view it as an opportunity.  Together, we can establish priorities that will continue to make Arizona a place to raise a family and create opportunity.


Rep. Michelle UgentiDistrict 23 State Rep. Michelle Ugenti - District 23


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