We write in response to Rep. Warde Nichols’ column (“Napolitano, Dems cause state’s problems,” Wednesday) regarding his misguided opinions and faulty analysis of Gov. Janet Napolitano’s record as Arizona’s chief executive. His judgments are poorly reasoned and are based on half-truths, twisted to support his position.
Surely, Nichols must remember that in Arizona, in the past 20 years, one governor was impeached and removed from office, and another forced to resign from office.
We believe Napolitano to be just the opposite — the best governor to have served during our lifetimes. She is clear about what is important to Arizonans: the safety and success of our children; a state government that is well-run and invests in these priorities; and the understanding that common sense answers are more important than partisan political games.
Make no mistake: Napolitano has, indeed, vetoed many bills, largely because the GOP-led Legislature has set it up that way. Rather than spend their taxpayer-funded time and legislative salaries on important issues, such as dealing with the state’s increasing budget crisis, they vote and re-vote on the same bills again and again, knowing full well the governor is going to veto them the second and subsequent times they come to her desk. We’re grateful, because as Arizona’s chief executive she has vetoed measures that had the potential to create havoc.
• In a move that not even bar owners supported, the Legislature would have allowed guns in bars. The governor stopped that.
• Another bill would have stripped health insurance from thousands of Arizonans; the governor wisely preserved their health care.
• Other bills would have taken away federal funding for school lunches for children and removed fingerprint clearance requirements for teachers working with children.
There is value in the veto stamp when it stops bills that would damage our state. This governor has the courage to use that stamp thoughtfully and carefully.
We have had our economic ups and downs over the past several years, and we have worked with our governor and our fellow lawmakers on legislation that makes sense. We are paving the way for a bright future for Arizona, working collaboratively with Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature, as well as with individuals in the private, nonprofit and public sectors, regardless of their political affiliation, to make ideas become reality.
That full list of good ideas, many of which have already become reality, is far too long to put into the space available here. But it is important to highlight what we’ve been able to accomplish together, with the governor’s leadership:
• Arizona now has voluntary full-day kindergarten statewide.
• Arizonans were among the first to get a prescription discount program (one that has been widely duplicated in the private sector).
• Arizona families now have increased educational standards in place, to ensure our students are trained and ready for college, trade school and 21st century jobs.
• Arizona’s universities are positioned better than ever to operate as engines of science and discovery, and in turn, to fuel the state’s economy.
• Although the job is not finished, Arizona’s border finally got attention it deserved: increased enforcement; a National Guard support presence at the border; a Fraudulent ID Task Force; a Stolen Vehicle Task Force; and more. This governor has been relentless in her pressure on the federal government to accept responsibility and do its job to secure Arizona and overhaul the immigration system.
Our governor has garnered a national reputation for integrity, outstanding leadership, willingness to stand up to the federal government and Congress to make rightful demands. She is well-known for her governing skills and solutions-oriented, “get-it-done” attitude, and the voting public showed their support by overwhelmingly re-electing her for a second term in 2006. She has been deemed one of the best governors in the country by Time magazine, and is frequently mentioned as an effective leader in statewide and national publications and media. Her peers chose her to lead them last year as chairwoman of the National Governor’s Association.
Napolitano has been governor for more than five years; we are proud of her record of action, and proud to work with her. It is a shame our colleagues are too busy trying to get re-elected by badmouthing her, rather than focusing on important issues and working on bipartisan, collaborative legislation that is good for Arizona. We and the governor work for a consensus to protect universities, education and vulnerable people. Our priorities are aligned.