Our View: One thing to look for Monday when the Arizona Legislature returns to the Capitol — will Sen. Thayer Verschoor of Gilbert come forward to do his job?
One thing to look for Monday when the Arizona Legislature returns to the Capitol — will Sen. Thayer Verschoor of Gilbert come forward to do his job?
Efforts by the Republican majority to whittle away a portion of the state’s projected $2 billion came to an abrupt halt Thursday when a key bill came up one vote short. Verschoor was called out by Senate President Bob Burns for mysteriously failing to appear for the roll call and then ignoring repeated efforts to contact him. For someone who once aspired to be Senate president himself, Verschoor’s disappearing act was a blatant dereliction of duty. “This state is in crisis and it is very disappointing and frankly embarrassing that one member of our caucus did not have the decency to show up,” Burns said in a written statement. “I left the floor open to give him every opportunity to do the right thing.”
Lawmakers frequently skip roll call votes when their personal stance conflicts with the views of many of their constituents or a powerful special interest. “Taking a walk” usually doesn’t carry a public stigma because an individual lawmaker will do it once or twice out of hundreds of votes.
But this isn’t just any vote that Verschoor skipped. Arizona faces an unprecedented budget crisis, one that required state Treasurer Dean Martin last week to borrow $700 million from a private bank just so the state could pay its bills.
Capitol Media Services reported that Verschoor had earlier voiced opposition to a provision that would allow more state agencies to set their own licensing and inspection fees. Verschoor rightly describes that as a way for the state to raises taxes on businesses while avoiding a constitutional requirement that such increases must receive approval from two-thirds of the Legislature.
Verschoor should have appeared and voiced his opposition in person despite the enormous pressure from fellow Republicans Burns and Gov. Jan Brewer to win passage of the proposed legislation. Fellow Sen. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu City, had the courage to do so, ignoring descriptions that he’s an “extremist” for sticking to his principles. Verschoor should have done the same. One person protesting something can be ignored as a lone voice in the wilderness. Two people standing shoulder-to-shoulder can prompt colleagues to reconsider their views and look for alternative ways to reach a solution.
Or maybe Verschoor doesn’t feel as strongly about this issue as Gould. Then, he could have voted “yes” and moved the state a little closer to avoiding a fiscal crash. Either way, Verschoor has a responsibility to his constituents and to the state as a whole to show up and vote. Come out of hiding, senator, and be at your Senate floor desk Monday.