Q&A Senate Minority Leader Rebecca Rios will miss Legislature, praises Red for Ed movement

Supporters of raising the aggregate expenditure limit for education march into the Senate building in February. Senate Minority Leader Rebecca Rios said the Red for Ed movement was the most “significant, poignant, episode” she has run across while in the Legislature. /Photo by Camryn Sanchez/Arizona Capitol Times

By Camryn Sanchez | Arizona Capitol Times 

Next steps?

Hopefully, I’ll be justice of the peace in South Phoenix. A lot of folks have said, “We’re gonna miss you,” and I’m gonna miss this place. It’s just something you either love or you hate. I’ve been here for so many years, and I love it, despite all the frustration of being in the minority, and I guess that’s where I fantasize. I’m thinking, “God, how amazing would it be to actually come back when Democrats are in control, and then be able to run bills, and set the agenda and determine the course of policy in Arizona?” That’s something I’ve never had the opportunity to do. And, of course, talking to my dad, he’s like, “Oh, God, it’s day and night. It’s wonderful to be in that position.” So, I don’t know, I always keep that thought in the back of my head that maybe I’ll come back. Maybe I’ll be a staple here like Senator Alston.

From all of your sessions, what were some of the highlights?

The most I think significant, poignant, episode that I’ve ever come across here at the Legislature was the Red For Ed movement. There had been nothing like that prior nor since. To actually see 70,000 people in red shirts descend upon the Capitol and camp out here for days on end. You would drive into the parking lot and walk to the building and there was literally a gauntlet of hundreds of teachers cheering, and you felt like a rock star. The energy, and the enthusiasm, and the excitement was like nothing I had ever experienced. And it was enough to move a governor that had been insistent upon a 2% raise all the way to 20%. They moved mountains. I’d never seen a social movement have such an impact in such an immediate time, in real time, as they did on the governor and his investment in teacher salaries. My second session, I was able to bring five generations. I had my son, myself, my mother, my grandmother, and my great grandmother. To be able to come and introduce all of them and have them here, that was exciting.

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