2021 Legislative Scorecard
In the 2021 legislative session, Arizona Governor and state legislators had a historic opportunity to use a massive surplus of state and federal resources to make long-term investments and improve the economic well-being of all Arizonans. Yet sadly, a slim majority of legislators squandered this chance by giving billions of dollars to the wealthiest households, negating the will of the voters as expressed through Proposition 208 and surrendering the ability to invest in Arizona’s future. The enacted budget is the latest and most egregious in more than 30 years of prioritizing tax cuts, credits, and deductions that tilt the scales of state finances in favor of those with high incomes.
Not in recent memory did state lawmakers wield such a windfall of resources. With revenues repeatedly beating cautious forecasts thanks to federal relief, Arizona’s General Fund balances (ongoing and cash) were forecasted to exceed $6 billion over the next three years. This combined with over $12 billion in one-time federal funds through the American Rescue Plan Act gave elected officials an unprecedented opportunity to address longstanding needs across the state and build a people first economy. For once, a lack of funds was no excuse for refusing to make these crucial, overdue investments (all of which could happen without raising taxes).
Amidst all of this, good legislation that was passed and signed into law, including a ballot referral to allow in-state tuition for undocumented high school students and a measure to expand the health care workforce serving Arizona’s tribal communities. And many more strong pieces of legislation were introduced yet failed to be heard in committees or proceed to votes, including a statewide paid family and medical leave program, creation of a state finance review task force to analyze state revenues, and stronger investment in affordable housing and infrastructure, among other needs.
AZCenter’s 2021 Legislative Scorecard summarizes the choices that current policymakers made on key legislation that was passed into law this year. The scorecard is not reflective of all policy positions and advocacy activities; its goal is to help connect-the-dots for Arizonans and the decisions policymakers made during the 2021 legislative session.