I've talked before about prison vs education spending in Arizona. The governor and the Department of Corrections anticipates more prisoners and wants to build new prisons for them. Our schools are not afforded the luxury of this foresight.
The governor and his staff have anticipated a need for more prison beds, I disagree. In their haste, they have begun a 20 year commitment to private prison. One of the many reasons is the low pay for these private correction officers. These men and women put their lives on the line for a starting salary of $12 an hour. If we want our state to grow with strong and happy families, we need to ensure that the companies profiting off of the tax payers at least pay livable wages.
The new budget that Governor Ducey released last week calls for more spending on private prisons. In fact, his proposal is to guarantee 95-100% occupancy to a Florida based prison company. This would require that regardless of changes that might happen to reduce prison population, Arizona would have to find people to lock up.
During my first hearing as a member of the Appropriations Committee, I had the opportunity to ask Lorenzo Romero, Governor Ducey's budget director, about private prisons. The Arizona Public Media covered the story.
In an interview with the Yuma Daily Sun, I stated my belief that the city and county of Yuma did not come out ahead during the last session.Read more
Speaker Gowan announced my appointment to the Committee on Appropriations. In that capacity, I will now be on the panel that reviews all spending for our state. The budget, which allocates our spending on schools, prisons, and children's health care, will come before us. I look forward to working with my new colleagues. Additionally, I was named ranking member of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, a panel I served on in the last session.Read more
At a summit about education funding, I spoke in favor of helping our schools retain their best teachers, as featured in Arizona Public Media.
“We know it takes a village to raise a child – we already know that – but it is going to take an army to educate them," Fernandez said. "And that’s why we are here tonight to make sure that you are our army.“Read more