The 2021 session of the Arizona Legislature was one of the most productive sessions I have experienced in my 15 years serving you as both your state senator and state representative. The session produced significant accomplishments in education funding, border security, law and order, election integrity, historic tax cuts and humane animal laws.
This year, more money was budgeted for K-12 education than ever before, in spite of a COVID-related student enrollment decline of 3.5%. Over $7 billion of state funds was appropriated along with an additional $5.6 billion in federal monies for a record $12.6 billion appropriation to K-12 education. Additional monies also flowed to our state universities.
We also budgeted $55 million to stop human trafficking across the border, prevent the entry of criminals and contraband and to help construct and maintain a border wall on state land. In addition, we protected our law enforcement officers from far-left political attacks by making certain that the civilians who sit on police review boards are qualified to make informed decisions by requiring them to complete approved police training about the law and police procedures.
In addition, I wrote a bill that requires two-thirds of the members of police review or investigation boards to be certified law enforcement officers, which is consistent with the ratio of civilians to occupational members on most state occupational review boards.
Public concern about the conduct of elections in Arizona and other states lead to a number of bills passing to enhance election security and dispel voter concerns.
Because mail ballots sent to addresses where the recipient has long ago died or moved away could potentially be used by others to vote fraudulently, we passed legislation to update voter lists by both contacting voters who don’t vote and requesting their reply to stay on the mailing list and by having our election officials periodically check death records against the voting lists. I personally wrote two election security bills that became law.
The first requires all data ports on voting machines to be secured by locks to prevent tampering and the second was to provide in-person voters with privacy folders to place their completed ballots inside, so others cannot see who they voted for.
The 2021 budget also contained historic tax cuts. Arizona’s economy is booming, and part of that payoff is being returned to you, the taxpayers. 2021 general fund revenues broke the modern record for percentage growth in a year, growing by 28.8% overall, resulting in a total general fund collection of $14.17 billion.
These lower tax rates will make Arizona even more competitive in the race to attract new businesses and retain existing ones, and that means more jobs and tax revenue.
We passed a flat 2.5% single income tax rate, which will be phased in over the next three years, resulting in a savings for every taxpayer. We also created a tax ceiling of 4.5% for everyone and exempted veterans’ pensions from the state income tax. Additionally, we reduced property taxes for both homeowners and businesses.
I wrote three animal welfare bills that were all signed into law, which is why I am the only legislator at the capitol to have been awarded the Arizona Humane Society’s “Legislator of the Year” award two times. My first law prohibits those found guilty of serious animal cruelty from possessing animals. I also made possession of animal fighting paraphernalia illegal. Such paraphernalia includes metal claws strapped to roosters’ feet to enhance the viciousness of the fight.
Finally, I wrote a law that will allow law enforcement to use anti-racketeering laws against the Mexican drug cartels who are conducting illegal and dangerous quarter horse racing in the desert outside of Maricopa County.
It is an honor representing you in the Arizona legislature.
Please feel free to contact me should you have any questions or any problems with state government. My office phone is (602) 926-5170.
Republican John Kavanagh represents Dist. 23 in the Arizona House of Representatives.