By Nathan Brown |cArizona Capitol Times
House Minority Leader Reginald Bolding thinks this year’s session could be a lot like last year’s.
The Laveen Democrat discussed the upcoming session in a recent interview with the Arizona Capitol Times. While he said he thinks there are some opportunities for bipartisan collaboration, notably on water policy, he worries 2022 will see another long and divisive session marked by policies he and his fellow Democrats see as attacks on vulnerable Arizonans.
Answers have been lightly edited for length and clarity.
What is the Democratic caucus focusing on this year?
As you saw in our blueprint, we’re really going to focus on making sure we’re putting working families first through a number of things. We really have to make sure we’re looking to stop the curve of Covid and doing whatever we can to fill the gaps in that social safety net. … Our schools are facing another looming threat, which seems to be the case every legislative session, and this year is no different. We will be working to make sure our kids have an aggregate expenditure limit that is raised, or is not (there) at all. It’s an arbitrary limit. … Another priority of ours is going to be to make sure our natural resources get the priority they deserve, particularly around water. We have to get serious about our long-term water resources and serve as leaders to this region.
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The governor had a lot to say about education in his State of the State Address, and I imagine you disagreed with a lot of it. What did you think about what you heard?
The governor didn’t give a lot of specifics, but it was clear that he chose to take the most divisive issues in education and led with those front and center. When the governor had an opportunity to really bring people together in the last year, he chose to be divisive. The reality is, school board members, teachers, administrators, they don’t need any more reasons to have a very far-right, extreme group of people threatening them in their school buildings, at their meetings, and the governor essentially in his speech, many people would argue, made it open season. Our approach is this – we believe in local control. We believe school board members for communities, kids, their parents, have the pulse of their neighborhoods and have an idea of what their kids should be doing. We don’t believe there is any teacher in any classroom in the state of Arizona that is actively telling kids that they should feel bad about who they are based on their race or gender. What we believe is that their teachers should have the ability to teach history, should have the ability to ask our students to critically think and should have the ability to work with parents.
The relationship between the two caucuses seemed pretty bad by the end of the last session. Do you expect more of the same this year, or do you think things might be more amicable?