Thanks to Kelly Townsend for taking notes and writing this up
Looks like Lewis dodged most questions or had no real answer, was in over his head. Came across as pro-illegal immigrant and he PRAISED the 1% additional tax. Wow. There is a clear choice here. Conservative Russell Pearce or liberal Jerry Lewis.
I was able to attend the debate, and I took notes of the questions/answers and wanted to share them with those who were not able to go.
1. Would you support the ASU Polytechnic campus becoming its own university apart from ASU?
Lewis - Didn't answer the question but stated we needed to talk about the issue in a civil manner.
Pearce - Only if it was what was best for the State. He stated he was an integral part of bringing ASU Poly to the Gateway district, and he believes in competition, so if it was best for the State, he would support it.
2. Do you have a commitment to education?
Pearce - Passed the first balanced budget in years, with only 1.5% cuts to education. AZ cares about education and makes it a priority. We lead the country in school choice, and we should have a "paid for performance" focus on teachers, and we need to get more of the money out of the administration of schools and into the classroom.
Lewis - Excellence must become top priority, not just an empty soundboard. He was the principal at the "Children First Academy" for homeless children. The moderator mentioned that he didn't answer the question and asked him to be specific. He stated we needed to listen to the needs of education and compensate high-performing teachers.
3. How will you encourage closer relationships between AZ colleges and employers?
Lewis - We need to sit down with the parties and listen and communicate.
Pearce - He helped organize the Mayo Clinic / ASU relationship, and stated East Valley Institute of Technology was also a player, and vocational schools like it, that can be included in the university/employer relationship.
4. What responsibility does the State have to provide K-12 to the undocumented?
Pearce - The cost is huge, and we have an obligation to uphold the laws of our country. State crime is 3x lesser than the national average and that classroom size is now smaller because of self-deportation. Acknowledged that there is a federal law mandating that all children be educated, but reiterated that we must still enforce the law.
Lewis - Stated that the federal gov't does require all children to be educated, and that AZ is at the bottom tier for educational success in the country.
Follow up question - Should illegal aliens receive in-state tuition at the colleges?
Pearce - The citizens of AZ passed Prop 300 by 75%, and he supports the will of the citizens. He opposed the subsidy that must be spent to fund illegals at the in-state tuition rate, stating it wasn't fair to out of state Americans to have to pay higher tuition than illegal immigrants.
5. What reforms are appropriate for government employees?
Lewis - Keep our promises to our employees, and offer retirement packages we can afford. We won't take pensions from them. We will support reforms and look at other options.
Pearce - We need to look at the benefits and how they are dealt with, we do need to keep our promises to our employees, yet we made proper changes to preserve the system that had become too financially burdensome. We made good choices, the system is already recovering and is now viable.
6. SB1325 prevented public union dues from being given to political parties. Do you support this?
Pearce - This is a right to work State, and the cost to the employers to deduct union fees is high. We need to have balance, a right to contract but we cannot destroy a business who refuses to utilize unions.
Lewis - I forgot to write his answer, sorry. I'll try to ask if anyone remembers what it was.
7. The Chamber of Commerce hears about excessive regulations on business. How will you change that?
Lewis - We need to get out of the way of business, and help them succeed. We sometimes need regulations, but it shouldn't be the top item. The timber industry as an example, there were many forest fires that could have been avoided had there not been so many regulations.
Pearce - We need to lower the tax burden and reduce regulations, and make AZ a refuge for companies such as the ones in CA who would like to come here due to lower regs and tax. He spoke also of the timber industry and the fires, and expounded to the mining industry that cannot operate due to the environmentalist's regulations. He spoke of Intel investing 5 billion in the East Valley, and Boeing, along with the largest solar company, all investing in AZ because of his and other's efforts to deregulate business here.
8. Is it fair to force privatization on towns who have elected officials?
Pearce - We need to take as much from the public sector and give it to the private sector. It is the State who decides what we can and cannot do, not the Federal government, so if we as a State feel it is better, then we should do so.
Lewis - Some jobs only can be done by gov't such as border patrol, but we need to get more privatization, and we need to listen to get it done, the 5 Cs are very much alive in AZ, we need to encourage tourism and focus on programs that generate revenue. We need to consult with the business owners first and listen to them to see if we can do it better.
9. How will you prepare for 2014 when the 1% tax expires?
Lewis - Thank goodness we had the tax. We need to grow ourselves out of it so that we won't need it when it expires. We need to work with education and figure out how to make it better, ask around for alternatives to the tax. Stated that Arizona is seen as an unfriendly business state and akin to 1964 Alabama (audience booed) in that their illegal population are leaving and no one will take the jobs.
Pearce - Is proud of AZ and its accomplishments and that we lead the nation on these issues, 30 states seek to follow our example, Gov Brewer gets standing ovations wherever she goes, crime is down, class size is down, business are coming to AZ and tourism is up 10%. We now have a balanced budget, he just spoke with the JLBC and they have stated that we can meet the budget and that we won't need to extend the 1% tax. We need to make the strings attached to the tax go away, eliminate fraud, we have 15% fewer gov't employees.
10. What are your budget priorities?
(I'm running out of time, will keep it short)
Pearce - We need to grow jobs, and focus on education. Dr. Prescott at ASU received the nobel prize (didn't write any more, sorry)
Lewis - 60 CEOs ask AZ to stop chasing away illegals and so we should listen to them. We need to stop regulating business so that AZ will be "on the front lawn."
11. What is the economic impact on AZ regarding immigration?
Lewis - We need to take the Fed gov't to the table, we cannot be their agents, DC will listen to us if we collaboratively work with the Fed.
Pearce - Ronald Regan signed a bill that we would allow amnesty once and then get our immigration under control before we do it again. Arizonan business owners cannot compete with those doing work illegally and are going out of business. The State has the inherent right to enforce the law.
12. How will your service in the Legislature restore tourism?
Pearce - AZ suffers from a great reputation, not a bad one. 10% increase in tourism. It costs 2.6 billion to support the illegals. USA allows more immigrants than any other country, and Arizona is leading the way and admired.
Lewis - There is a 9% unemployment rate and believes that there are not enough farm workers to do the work that Americans "won't do."
13. Do you support the HEAT program?
Lewis - Gateway corridor to bring about real economic growth. We need to work with industry and provide them a reason to stay, we need to work with them and listen to them and act accordingly.
Pearce - We need to lower the regulations for business and reduce taxes, incentivizing all business to be able to grow, taking away their impediments.
14. What can you do to work with the FAA for economic growth out at Williams Gateway?
Pearce - Already working with them, believes it ought to be an airport with more carriers, it has brought new businesses to the area and is one of the fastest growing areas in the country, and is the shining star of Mesa.
Lewis - Mentioned business experience, more education out there, work with the City of Mesa to create and environment where people want to work there.