State Sen. Bob Worsley addressed issues related to education, economics and Medicaid during a forum hosted by the East Valley Tribune on July 16.
Worsley, who is running for re-election for Senate District 25, discussed issues that have arisen in his two years as a state senator. Multiple attempts to contact Worsley’s opponent, Ralph Heap, to participate in the event were unsuccessful.
The winner of the Republican primary on Aug. 26 will face Democrat Steven Zachary in the general election on Nov. 4 for the seat in District 25, which includes a large portion of Mesa.
The reason Worsley said he is running for re-election for similar reasons as to why he ran for office in 2012: to reduce what he considered to be a negative feeling in regards to the state Senate.
“I wanted to see if I could change that chemistry,” he said, adding his goal this time is to avoid losing ground he and other senators have made at the state Capitol.
Among the topics Worsley discussed was Gov. Jan Brewer’s Medicaid expansion plan, which he voted for in 2013. The plan was contentious at the time and has faced several attempts to block it by opponents.
“I don’t regret a minute I was with her on this vote,” he said.
The reason for his decisiveness was the plan proposed by state Rep. Andy Biggs would cost the state $250 million a year and wouldn’t include matching federal funding.
He added the decision was one that was fiscally sound, citing a hospital in his district he said went bankrupt prior to the expansion plan.
“It’s a healthy industry now; it’ll create 16,000 jobs,” he said.
Similarly, Worsley also addressed methods of continuing job growth in the state, which Forbes anticipates will be the fastest growing in the country. He said economic growth is a heavy emphasis given his background as the founder of SkyMall and owning a company that cleared forests in northern Arizona after forest fires.
One thing he mentioned was a connection he has with several companies who have opened shop in Arizona or have expressed interest in doing so. The companies include Apple, Union Pacific, Tesla and Uber.
“I’m kind of the go-to person,” he said.
Common Core standards, which have also proven contentious in Arizona, also received a mention during the discussion. Worsley pointed out the state approved the standards approximately four years ago, but complaints about the standards, which led to the state backing out of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers exam, didn’t arise until last year.
Worsley said he supported the concept of the standards, as he said the state needs some way to measure student progress.
The final topic discussed was the salary for legislators, which voters could increase by $11,000 from $24,000 to $35,000 if Proposition 304 is approved. Worsley, who said he donates his salary to charity, said increasing pay could increase the caliber of legislators for the state.
He wrapped up his segment by saying the state should focus its attention on issues like economic development, cutting taxes, becoming more efficient and enforcing an open legislative process.
“I want to make everything in the Capitol transparent and put Arizona sunshine on everything in the Capitol,” he said.
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