KINGMAN – Thirty seconds was not nearly enough time for state Sen. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu City, to respond to the jabs he took at Monday’s legislative debate sponsored by the Citizens Clean Elections Committee, and he felt some of the questions were softball tosses to his Democratic challenger.
Borrelli, seeking his second term as Legislative District 5 senator after serving two terms as its representative, defended his voting record on issues such as protecting rural water rights, increasing teachers’ pay and providing services for military veterans.
A retired Marine with 22 years of service, he was particularly irked by a statement that he didn’t care about vets living in the bushes of the desert.
“My voting record speaks for itself,” he said. “More things need to be done for vets.”
Borrelli passed a bill to establish veterans’ mental health court and another to give nonprofit veteran organizations other ways to raise revenue.
And when it comes to public education, Borrelli said funding has been restored to pre-recession level of 2008, when it was $5.2 billion a year. It was $5.3 billion in 2018 and is budgeted for $5.9 billion in 2019.
The solution to Arizona’s poor academic performance is not to throw more money at the problem, he added. Kingman Unified School District has a graduation rate of 78 percent with $6,900 per pupil spending, while Lake Havasu City shows a 90 percent graduation rate at $6,598 per pupil spending, he noted.
He voted for full-time kindergarten classes and supports Prop 305, which would expand the empowerment scholarship account, or vouchers, that can be used to pay tuition at private schools.
“I support parental authority,” Borrelli said during an interview with the Daily Miner. “You have the right to send your kids wherever you want. The education establishment doesn’t like charter schools and home schools. They want a monopoly on everything.”
If elected, Borrelli would be the Senate majority whip in Arizona, making sure everyone is kept abreast of legislation being introduced and fighting for members’ bills to get through the House to the governor.
“I’m bringing a different philosophy too. A lot of times, a member is put in the middle of two opposing groups and gets caught in a crossfire. Someone needs to mitigate and handle any dispute and get these people out of the crossfire,” he said. “Let’s get everyone in the room and leave your ego at the door and leave your party at the door.”
Borrelli’s challenger, Democrat J’aime Morgaine, has criticized him for introducing “zero” pieces of legislation to protect Mohave County’s groundwater supply, which has been diminishing in the drought and is at risk of reaching dangerously low levels with the drilling of farm wells.
“That’s a complete falsehood,” he fired back. “My first term, I ran a bill to help with the Mohave Valley Irrigation Drainage District, the MVIDD, that was to put a homeowner on the board. Obviously, the farming community got in an uproar to kill the bill.
“This year I had the same language on a different bill that would have addressed the MVIDD. When you look at water laws, they throw a dagger out on this farming. It’s treaties and water compacts. You have to have a good water policy that’s fair and equitable for everyone.”