Photo Credit: Time MagazineBudget time at the Arizona Capitol is always an interesting place to be, but perhaps no more so than now. It had already been a rough month or so for Governor Katie Hobbs (get up to date here), but the budget negotiations (or relative lack thereof) look like they will make “tamale-gate” look like a walk in the park.
The unrest started in earnest earlier in the month as Hobbs’s Deputy Director of Public Affairs & Legislative Director Rebecca Beebe resigned with nearly no warning nor any humiliating misstep that would prompt a “resign or be fired response”. While many in the local political orbit were trying to figure out what prompted this, some of the subsequent negotiations related to the budget made it quite obvious.
Soon word crept out that Hobbs seemed to completely capitulate to the Republicans on caps (or lack thereof) on school vouchers. After talking on the campaign stump, for years previous and even until February her desire to end the school vouchers program, she couldn’t manage to negotiate any cap or limitations whatsoever on the vouchers program, one that will certainly be a heavy weight on the budget for years to come. She couldn’t extract a single thing for her side.
Mind you, Rebecca Beebe’s role directly before joining the Hobbs’ administration was lobbying on behalf of public schools in the legislature. Whether she was unwilling or unable to help her boss violate a significant portion of her life’s work is unclear, but it was clearly an affront. But more than that, public school funding has been the most important topic for Democrats in Arizona for years. To have one of their own on the 9th floor only for them to fold like a lawn chair on their singular legacy issues of importance has got to be crippling.
As for leadership on the Dem side…to say that they had thoughts on this matter would be an understatement. According to a joint statement from Rep. Mitzi Epstein and Sen. Andres Cano, “No responsible legislator from either party should be willing to bankrupt our state, neglect the homeless, let our rural areas run out of water and fail to raise teachers’ salaries or even keep public school funding on pace with inflation in order to give wealthy families in the richest ZIP codes a government subsidy to reduce their child’s private school tuition”. Yikes. Quite a repudiation.
While there are both positive and negative things to say about Hobbs, one thing that many would NOT say about her is that she is tough or aggressive. As a reminder, she was the candidate who refused to debate Kari Lake because Republicans and Democrats alike understood that Lake would have wiped the floor with her. Unfortunately for Dems, that lack of toughness is now becoming extremely apparent when it matters most; perhaps it’s something that they should have considered when nominating her.
In the meantime, between ostracizing Latinos as well as educational advocates, her fan group is dwindling by the day.