On Tuesday evening, Feb. 3, Representative Eric Meyer returned to give LD28 an update on our state's leadership.
Dr. Meyer reported that the Republican caucus is advocating a budget philosophy that is sorely out of step with the needs of the state.
For example, funding for prisons has far outstripped funding for public education, despite the fact that the state's crime rate is at the lowest point it has been since the 1970's. The new governor's budget would cut $75 million from state universities and $13.5 million from district schools. Prisons, on the other hand, would receive another $52 million, including funding to build additional private prisons that would cost $100 million over the next several years. See graphic below, courtesy of Arizona Senate Democrats.
The question is, what can we do to spread the word about these skewed priorities?
The answer: Take it to the twittersphere.
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When William Safire coined the term "nattering nabobs of negativism" decades ago, it was invoked by Spiro Agnew in protest against those who were critical of the Nixon administration. Today, the famous phrase reminds us of the wonderful disruptions that are possible when we speak truth to power. And today, each citizen has a platform that would have been inconceivable in 1970. That platform is social media.
When we post and share material on sites like Facebook and Twitter, the ultimate effect is like ripples in a pond. Our comments spread outward, reaching far beyond our immediate circle. When we avail ourselves of this growing medium, we become powerful messengers. We can employ social media to tell the story of the Democratic Party, and of our efforts to advance our state.
We start the process by setting up accounts on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. And we continue the process by writing our own comments, and by sharing contributions from our respected associates.
After Dr. Meyer's presentation on Tuesday evening, Doug Mings stepped up to share additional information about the mechanics and protocols of social media. But the best way to figure it all out, Doug suggested, is simply to jump in. The water's fine.
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During his comments at Tuesday's meeting, Dr. Meyer also discussed the current measles outbreak, and the importance of increasing vaccination rates. Reports of an association between vaccines and autism have had a regrettable staying power, although they were discredited long ago. Today's Arizona Republic printed a letter to the editor from Dr. Meyer regarding this issue. The letter reads, in part:
"According to the Centers for Disease Control, 90 percent of those who have not been immunized and are exposed to measles will become ill. Parents must have access to affordable immunizations, and they need to be able to make informed decisions concerning their children's health. Democrats have introduced legislation requiring schools to post immunization rates, and that bill needs bipartisan support. In addition, Arizona needs to make exemption requirements more rigorous. Currently, people can opt out of immunizations for a wide range of reasons. This increases our risk."
The recent measles outbreak in Arizona is not a political issue, and it should not provide the stage for ideological grandstanding.
The scientific facts are that the measles immunization works, and when kids are not immunized, our communities are at risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 90 percent of those who have not been immunized and are exposed to measles will become ill.
In order to prevent future outbreaks, we should prioritize funding for immunization programs and require schools to post immunization rates of enrolled students. Parents must have access to affordable immunizations, and they need to be able to make informed decisions concerning their children's health when considering school choice.
Democrats have introduced legislation requiring schools to post immunization rates and school nurse availability, and that bill needs bipartisan support.
In addition, Arizona needs to make exemption requirements more rigorous. Currently, people can opt out of immunizations for a wide range of reasons. Arizona has broad exemption standards and this increases our risk.
Dr. Eric Meyer, Paradise Valley
Arizona Republic, February 4, 2015
Have you recently written a letter to the editor of any of our local newspaper? Published or unpublished, we'd love to share your thoughts with LD 28.