by Gayle Plato
Senator Jack Harper along with other legislators for Arizona, first crossed my path at the February Tea Party. Along with the always energetic Tom Jenney of the AZ branch of Americans For Prosperity, Senator Harper and other legislators were jumping up on the Tempe Town Lake Wall, like soap box candidates of history past.
It was hot, the crowd was small and dedicated, and these guys were passionately talking about citizens’ rights and keeping government small. I was impressed, but I also worried about them falling in the drink!
Today I’ll begin a Focus on the State with a look at Jack W. Harper, Republican, conservative, veteran, experienced small businessman, husband and father. The senator was elected to his third term in the Arizona State Senate in Legislative District Four, winning his elections by an over-whelming majority. Here are some answers to my questions, in his own words-
Q. Tell SA about your district, why you ran, and what you feel your main job is as a State Senator?
A. I have a diverse district that contacts me about a variety of issues. Some examples of dominate issues are:
”Don’t raise my taxes and continue to prevent illegal immigration.”
”Don’t override my HOA’s CC & R’s with state statutes.”
”Get rid of the photo radar cameras.”
”Support the troops and veterans.”
”Re-assert states rights and pass HCR2024.”
”Get the US out of the UN and guard against a North American Union.”
”Defend my Second Amendment Rights!”
The main reason I ran the first election, was to remove a three-term incumbent who passed laws to promote homosexuality and spent public money on illegal alien healthcare. Now, I believe it is my responsibility to explain my legislative philosophy at election time and vote accordingly throughout the term.
Q. The AZ budget still seems fragile at best with this newly balanced agreement. What are your ongoing concerns, and what would you tell your constiuents about the next fiscal year in AZ?
A. The budget negotiations are a moving target. A couple of members keep adding to their demands and leadership will scrap an agreement if revenue figures come in lower in a month, and the budget would not be balanced. We have adjusted the Fiscal Year 2009 budget a few times and the FY10 budget will need to be reconciled throughout the year as well. It’s time to pass what we have.
To constituents, I would say that we are trying to keep a property tax rate from springing higher.
There are two ways that could happen: 1) If we do not permanently eliminate the state property tax that was cut for three years, it will come back this year; 2) If the Legislature suspends Truth in Taxation (T-n-T). Your valuation is going down, but if we do not let the Qualifying Tax Rate follow it lower, you will pay higher taxes than usual. Your property tax might be lower even with suspending T-n-T, but technically this is what school districts do to you as your valuation is rising and the take more of your money on a lower rate.
If a constituent has a high-maintenance family and has become dependent on state services, I would say that we do not have the money for the same level of services as years past. Your options are to turn to a local church for compassion or explore moving to a higher-taxing state. To balance a budget that starts out $3.3 billion in deficit, without raising taxes, we have to cut many programs. We need to eliminate “Parents of KidsCare”, non-federal funded Arizona Long Term Care, and several other programs that are not mandated by the voters, the constitution, the federal so-called stimulus bill, and things not fully funded by the federal government.
Q. Do you think that it’s worthwhile to consider either overhauling or dropping AHCCCS?
A. Because of Proposition 204 that passed years ago, we have to provide AHCCCS to every person at the federal poverty level or below. We need the voters to take that mandate off of the legislature to keep 20 % of every Arizonans from getting free healthcare on the other 80 percent.
Q. What are your top priorities this year as a legislator?
A. I have three goals this year. I want to see that Nancy Barto’s bill on abortion passes, that the NRA’s bill that I carry yearly passes to allow restaurant owners to decide if they want to allow a patron to carry a firearm, regardless of having an on-site alcohol consumption license, and to reform judicial selection at the ballot and take the State Bar out of the process.
Q. Do you see yourself running for another office in state at some point in the future?
A. I was exploring a race for Secretary of State before Governor Napolitano left and Jan Brewer appointed Ken Bennett to the SOS position. I believe I am going to explore running for the State House of Representatives, now.
Q. Finally, what else do you want us to know about you and why you felt a need to run for office and do this job? Why be state legislator?
A. I have been blessed to have the opportunity to restore fiscally and socially conservative values to public policy. My work is not done though. The State Legislature has thrown up roadblocks over the years to economic freedom. It is time to deregulate and allow the average person the opportunity to be a small business owner.