Arizona Leadership: getting to know Senate President-elect Karen Fann

Senator Karen Fann, who has been an Arizona state senator since 2017, was chosen to be the next Senate president. Fann, who prior served in the state House of Representatives, wants to get rid of the “us-versus-them” attitude that has dominated politics lately.

Senate President-elect Fann (LD-1) will be representing the Republican caucus in the 54th legislature.

Question: How does it feel to be chosen as the Senate President?
Answer: I am honored beyond belief. It is truly an honor to be able to represent our senate and to have my colleagues have that much faith and trust in me and I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure I keep that faith and trust.

Q: What do you see being the biggest issues this year?
A: Team effort, first of all. So, water, the DCP [Drought Contingency Plan], trying to get that through to conserve and protect our water resources in the future. Education funding, we made a lot of promises last spring and we better fulfill those promises, so, it’s going to be important that we set forth a budget now and in the future to make sure those monies are there, you know, when we need them.

Q: What is your biggest goal for this legislative session?
A: My biggest goal is to get everybody to get along. I am so tired of the rhetoric and the disrespect that has been occurring over the last couple years on a national level and we saw a little of it start here on the state level. I would do everything in my power to try and turn that around. We may disagree on some issues but there is no reason why we need to be mean and hateful to each other. Everybody deserves respect and that’s what we’re going to do around here.

Q: How do you plan to work across the aisle to get bipartisan bills passed?
A: First of all, starting with respect. If you don’t have respect for your counterparts on the other side of the aisle, you never will get on board. The great advantage I have here as Senate President is many of the people on the Democrat side are actually good, close, personal friends of mine. We may not agree politically on everything but we get along really well and so, for us to just sit down and say ‘let’s talk about this,’ is something I’m very, very fortunate to have [the] ability to do. So, I think we will, as a Senate, for the most part, I think you’re going to see that we’re working very, very cohesively and more than likely we’re the one that’s going to have to take the lead on a lot of issues because I think over in the House it’s going to be a little more challenging.

Q: Is the Legislature going to be able to get a deal on DCP accomplished in January?
A: I hope so, you know, we’re working under a deadline. January 31 was the deadline we were given and if we don’t come up with something that we can accomplish, then the federal government is going to step in and that might be something we don’t like. So, I think we’re almost there, from what I’m understanding we’re about 90 percent there, but there’s a few issues we still need to work out. So, if we can get those worked out we can get it through.

Helping our members understand exactly what we’re trying to accomplish is probably the biggest challenge we have right now because this is a very confusing issue with a lot of people involved. So, it’s very, very important that we all understand exactly what we’re voting on and the impact or possible unintended consequences that could come out of it.

Q: What should the state do with any new revenues that result from tax conformity?
A: I don’t mean to be a broken record but education, depending on where those revenues are. Is it going revenue neutral? Will we come out a little ahead? Hopefully we know exactly what we’re doing before we vote on it so that we can make sure we don’t see a loss of revenue, and that’s certainly not anyone’s intention, which is why we haven’t seen anything on the board yet for it. We’re still working on making sure we have the right and adequate numbers so that whatever we do, that we make sure it’s not going to take a hit for the general fund.

In the bigger picture of the thing is funding education and putting money back in the rainy day fund. We know that there will always be a recession just around the next corner, hopefully it won’t be as bad as the one ten years ago, but we need to make sure we have money in the savings account to meet our obligations, even when times go bad.

Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
A: I’m just excited to be here, I am excited to see us move forward and we have great people, we have a great governor, so, we’re going to do a great job.

Emily Richardson

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