Education is Arizona’s most pressing issue. Funding per pupil has been cut 20 percent over the past decade. Arizona ranks last or next to last in teacher pay for nearly all grade levels, and as a result we have chronic and severe teacher shortages. This is not an accident; it was done intentionally. The current governor and legislature have consistently voted to take money away from public schools.
The Democratic Party wants excellent public education for everyone, including free community college and affordable college and post-graduate school. We can do this without raising taxes. Arizona gives away hundreds of millions of dollars in tax loopholes to out of state companies, a practice the current governor and legislature have defended. If we close some of these loopholes, we can give teachers a real 20 percent raise and make our schools so good that everyone will want their children to attend.
Health care. I finished my medical training in Canada, so I’ve lived under universal health care as both a doctor and a patient. It works well. It covers everyone, provides better care and costs less. The Canadian people love their system and so do their doctors. We don’t have to adopt their system, but we can and should make certain that no one worries about paying for medical care. All wealthy nations do this; we can, too.
Criminal Justice Reform We need a criminal justice system that is focused on treatment. Two-thirds of all the inmates in state prison have untreated psychiatric or substance abuse problems that led to their crimes. Most crime is preventable, but without treatment, these people commit crime after crime and are incarcerated over and over. We should use our criminal justice system, especially probation and parole, to get addicted and mentally ill criminals the help they need so we stop the revolving door of crime and incarceration.
Sometimes government is the answer. I’ve worked in both the public and private sector & come to this conclusion: The private sector does not always do a better job. Schools, health care and prisons cost less and serve the public better when run by the state.
Private enterprise does not always act in our best interest. For example, today’s opioid epidemic was caused by pharmaceutical giants misleading us just to make money.
Alcohol and other drugs. Dozens of countries have relaxed their marijuana laws, but only the United States has created a profit-driven corporate marijuana industry with its own monopolies, venture capitalists and private equity firms. As a doctor who works with addicts and alcoholics, I’ve seen how the addictive drug industries – alcohol, tobacco and now marijuana – target teenagers to create future customers. Without government oversight and regulation, these industries can do terrible damage.
Two-thirds of all inmates have substance abuse or mental health disorders. To end revolving-door incarceration, we need more treatment.