October 2018 Southwestern Update

Arizona


The mood of Voters heading into Midterm Elections

In a poll by Suffolk University/Arizona Republic, 500 likely Arizona voters were asked:

  1. Approval or Disapproval of the job by Donald Trump. – 47.6% approve while 48.2% disapprove. Virtually a tie with 4.2% undecided.
  2. Do Voters aim to send a message to Trump? – 39.8% want to change Trump’s direction; 39.6% support Trump’s direction; and 15.8% do not factor this into their plans.
  3. Favorability of candidates – Gubernatorial candidates: Ducey (R) 49.6% favorable to 35.4% unfavorable; Garcia (D) 33.6% favorable to 34.6% unfavorable. Senate candidates Cinema (D) 44.2% favorable to 35.6% unfavorable; McSally (R) 40.8% favorable to 42.8% unfavorable.
  4. 43.8% think that Arizona is heading in the right direction compared to 36.6% who think Arizona is heading in the wrong direction. 19.6% were undecided.

Margin of error is + or – 4%

Colorado


Gubernatorial Candidates Differ on Healthcare

The Coloradan gubernatorial candidates differ on many areas, but none as contentiously as their respective approaches to healthcare. Democrat Jared Polis is a supporter of “Medicare for all,” and has released a 100-day healthcare roadmap for the first year he is in office. Republican Walker Stapleton has three priorities for healthcare including seeking a federal waiver to allow insurance companies to sell policies that only cover “catastrophic events.” Each campaign has criticized the other for lack of details and vision.

Critics claim that Polis’ approach will create a single-payer system which could double the state’s budget. Polis’ ultimate goal is to make sure Coloradans do not have to worry about the cost of healthcare. One idea is to negotiate a multi-state consortium that will be large enough to expand coverage and keep costs low. The challenge will be to work with neighboring governors and state legislators and may not benefit Colorado as its residents are some of the healthiest in the nation. One other proposal is to allow the public to buy into the state’s employee health care program. There would be no additional cost to the state as individuals would be paying 100% of their own premiums. This is a novel approach as no other state is currently offering a public buy-in option.

Opponents of Walker’s proposals claim his plans would kick thousands of individuals off of Medicaid. Walker proposes a plan for an outcomes-based Medicaid which is intended to curb the cost of the program, thus freeing up government funds that can be redirected to education and roads. Walker is also proposing a task force to improve the administration and monitoring of Medicaid which will reduce wasteful spending, abuse, and fraud. Walker plans to seek a federal waiver to allow individuals to buy short-term or catastrophic health care plans. He says any options must include protections for pre-existing conditions and allowing young people to stay on their health care plans. This option will have high-deductibles but can offer cheaper monthly premiums. The plan will not cover routine health care costs but is instead to be there in case of a health emergency.

New Mexico


Gubernatorial Candidates – One Month to Go

A recent debate between Gubernatorial candidates Democrat Michelle Lujan-Grisham and Republican Steve Pearce showed how different they are in terms of Education, Healthcare, raising the minimum wage and other public assistance programs.

Both candidates have stated that it is their intent to overhaul the teacher evaluation system to address a lagging system that ranks New Mexico behind most states in student performance. The difference, however, as shown in a recent video of Pearce speaking to a conference of educators was released where he states that his system may very well reflect what is currently in place. Lujan-Grisham, on the other hand, seeks to revamp the evaluation system that is seen as ineffective. The current system factors in student performance into teacher evaluations which is seen to diminish teacher enthusiasm and crush student morale. The New Mexico chapter of the National Education Association is concerned that a small faction of teachers that support the current system will sway the new governor.

In other areas, the candidates disagreed on raising the minimum wage, legalizing recreational marijuana and tapping into the state’s land grant permanent fund for early childhood programs. Additionally, Pearce supports a work requirement for people who get their healthcare via Medicaid or who use other public assistance programs such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Lujan Grisham pointed out that Pearce has repeatedly voted against public benefit programs.

Lujan Grisham supports raising the minimum wage in three stages. First, immediately raise the minimum wage to $10 per hour and later to $12 per hour. Finally, the minimum wage would be adjusted according to inflation. Pearce states that government-mandated wages increases will hurt people and businesses that will reduce employee hours. Lujan Grisham argues that a wage increase will help small businesses by giving people more money to spend. She points out that raising the minimum wage is especially important for families and women.

There are two more televised debates scheduled before the November 6 general election – October 16 sponsored by KOB-TV and October 24 co-hosted by KOAT-TV and the Albuquerque Journal.

Utah


Prop 2 Compromise Creates First State-run Dispensaries

In a behind-the-scenes compromise deal announced in the state capitol, both sides of Proposition 2 – legalizing medical use marijuana – a deal that will create the nation’s first state-run medical marijuana dispensaries. State lawmakers, faith leaders, and advocates worked out the weeks in the making, but Gov. Hebert has vowed to call a special session after the election no matter the outcome of Prop. 2. “The good news here is that whether Prop 2 passes or fails, we end up at the same point,” Hebert said at the compromise announcement.

Qualifying patients will not have access to medical marijuana from county health departments, and up to five “medical cannabis pharmacies.” The compromise differs from the initiative in that a centralized pharmacy will be created to supply health departments with marijuana in “medicinal dosage form.” The intent of the state-run operation is to increase safeguards and lessen the likelihood of medical marijuana from reaching the black market.

Both sides of the Prop 2 debate have agreed to de-escalate the number of political ads attacking the opposing party. Advocates, however, still caution and encourage voters to turn up at the polls. There are still areas that are unsettled such as the requirement that marijuana flowers be packaged in blister packs. The intent is to send a clear signal to law enforcement that an individual is legally in possession of marijuana. Opposing concerns is that additional packaging requirements will drive up the cost.

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