Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Brewer vetoes bill authored by head of her own Youth Commission

Partisanship trumps good ideas in governor’s office

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX - On Monday, Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed SB1066, a consensus bill which would have created a commendation to recognize youth who have contributed more than 200 hours of community service. This award would have provided further incentive for community involvement by young people and formalized the citation in order to build a state and national reputation. The reasons provided by the governor for her veto are not only invalid, they are disingenuous. There is more to this story than the governor's office is willing to admit.

In her veto letter, Gov. Brewer claims that her Youth Commission "has discussed ways to increase high school students' volunteerism and community service since 2009." The author of SB1066 happens to be the Governor’s Youth Commission co-chair, McClintock High School senior Jevin Hodge.

During a visit by Sen. David Schapira to his high school, Hodge approached Sen. Schapira with his idea for the commendation as a way to encourage community service among youth. After a positive response from Sen. Schapira, Hodge took the idea to Cassandra Larsen, Director of the Governor's Office for Children, Youth and Families, who oversees the Youth Commission. While his idea was enthusiastically supported by many youth leaders around the state, his reception by the governor's staff was not as positive.

Larsen and her staff not only dismissed Hodge's idea, they told him he was not allowed to speak with his own state senator without permission from the governor's office. In a follow up meeting with Senate Minority staff and Hodge, staff from the governor’s office denied having any concerns with the bill.

Now, in the governor's veto letter, she proclaims this bill as unnecessary and a violation of the constitutional separation of powers - that the Legislature cannot tell the Executive branch what to do. The fact is, nobody is telling her what to do. The governor had the choice to sign this into law, and she chose not to do so.

In a move that can only be described as partisan retribution against the Senate Democratic Leader, Gov. Brewer has once again put partisanship ahead of good policy by vetoing this bill created by a talented young Arizonan. In fact, the governor is so partisan that when her staff learned their selection of Hodge as chair of the Youth Commission is a Democrat, they ordered the unprecedented creation of a commission co-chair.

Sen. Schapira

"If Gov. Brewer is as concerned with helping the youth of Arizona as she claims, she would have no hesitation in signing SB1066 into law," said Sen. Schapira. "This bill passed out of the Legislature with overwhelming bipartisan support. The only reason she vetoed this bill is because it was sponsored by a Democratic legislator and the idea originated with a student who identifies himself as a Democrat. Gov. Brewer's partisanship has no limitations when it comes to taking down who she sees as a threat. In this case, that perceived threat was a community-minded high school student."

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