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75th Arizona Town Hall
Uniting a Diverse Arizona
Oct. 31 - Nov. 3, 1999

Arizona is one of our nation's most diverse states -- from its lands and economics to its demographics -- from its politics and governance to its delivery of services. The purpose of the 75th Arizona Town Hall was to develop recommendations for minimizing conflicts over issues that revolve around our diversity. Specific topics included water, growth, transportation, education and health care. This session was seen as a time for an overview of how all these concerns (each worthy of an entire Town Hall) are related to the state's diversity and our ability to work with that diversity. The following points highlight just a few of the major recommendations that addressed Arizona's geographic, economic and cultural diversity.

  • Arizonans need to develop a better appreciation of their diversity. Rather than a melting pot, diversity should be looked at as a mosaic, with recognition that unity among our residents does not necessarily mean uniformity. Rather, unity is a compilation of unique qualities and characteristics.
  • Arizona's water requirements should be identified through an inventory of its current and future water needs and available resources, particularly for non-Active Management Areas; and the creation, adoption and implementation of a new statewide water plan should follow (this could take shape through a governor's task force).
  • Prioritizing various demands for transportation is crucial to economic growth. These priorities must be identified cooperatively among the different constituencies, and not necessarily through existing state or local structures.
  • Acknowledging that there are limited public resources, we must confront the reality that there are serious problems with our educational system. Statewide inadequate funding for schools and the disparity between urban, rural and tribal communities, are all symptoms of problems within our public schools.
  • Arizona's system of providing health care can be improved by increased funding for mental health services, expanding the role of mid-level health care providers, encouraging preventive medicine, utilizing school-based medical clinics, broadening AHCCCS to include KidsCare and allowing school representatives to enroll children in this program, and many additional recommendations contained in the full report.
  • To more appropriately serve Arizona's needs for the 21st century, the State Land Department must be modernized to operate more effectively and efficiently.
  • It is time for the state to undertake a comprehensive review of our entire tax system, with an eye to reforming antiquated tax laws and policies, correcting disparities and inequities, and making the system fundamentally fair.
  • Arizona should establish an independent, non-partisan, legislative redistricting commission that will fairly and objectively address redistricting issues and make districting information easily accessible to the public.

The challenge facing Arizona today in its effort to bring Arizonans together is finding a way to respect and appreciate each other's viewpoints, and to forge necessary partnerships across the state to help Arizona celebrate its diversity.

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