Arizona legislature less pro-liberty in 2013, ‘gains of past years have been blunted’

| August 24 2013

GOLDWATER INSTITUTE RELEASES ANNUAL LEGISLATIVE REPORT CARD
While Average Scores are Down, Median Scores Increasing

Phoenix, AZ- Democrats in the Arizona State Legislature were less friendly to school choice reforms in 2013 than in previous years, according to the Goldwater Institute Legislative Report Card released Thursday. In fact, unlike in 2012 when several Democratic lawmakers received a score of A- or above in the area of education legislation, no Democrat scored above a C- in 2013.

Now in its 11th year, the Goldwater Institute’s Legislative Report Card analyzed 326 votes taken by the Legislature in 2013. The Report Card considers legislation in the areas of education reform, tax and budget policy, regulation, and constitutional government.

For the first time since 2003, scores in both the House of Representatives and the Senate declined from the previous year, with an average score of 54% in both chambers. No legislator received an overall score of A or higher.

“After redistricting, and with the battle over Medicaid expansion producing unusual anti-liberty coalitions, it appears the pro-liberty gains of past years have been blunted,” said Nick Dranias, Goldwater Institute Director for Policy Development and the author of the report. “Hopefully, this will prove to be a temporary phenomenon. There is reason to hope because, while average scores are lower, most median scores are higher, indicating that more legislators have improved their scores than otherwise.”

The gap between Republicans and Democrats in voting behavior is also growing. The difference between parties on so-called “high impact” bills was 64 and 65 in the House and Senate respectively-a dramatic increase from their 37 point gap in 2012.

The average score on education in both the Senate and House of Representative decreased by a staggering 20% from 2012. Yet despite this drop, the Goldwater Institute’s analysis showed legislators were more supportive of measures that increase accountability in public schools.

State senators and representatives dropped 6 and 7 points respectively in the area of constitutional government, compared to 2012 scores. Yet while mean scores decreased, median scores increased, indicative of the increasingly polarized landscape between the parties at the state capitol.

Meanwhile, while Republicans’ scores decreased in the area of regulation and tax and budget bills, Democrats showed improvement. No Democrats scored lower than a D-, whereas low F’s were common in past years.

The Report Card also compared traditionally funded and publicly funded candidates. As with all previous years, the source of campaign funding appears to have no significant impact on voting behavior.

Individual report cards for each of the 90 members were also compiled and are available online at goldwaterinstitute.org.

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