Arizona House Speaker Toma sees some common ground with Gov. Hobbs, Democrats

Jan 12, 2023, 2:00 PM | Updated: Jan 13, 2023, 8:53 am
Arizona Rep. Ben Toma (Facebook Photo/Ben Toma)...
Arizona Rep. Ben Toma (Facebook Photo/Ben Toma)
(Facebook Photo/Ben Toma)

PHOENIX – The leader of Arizona’s House Republicans says he sees some common ground with Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs, but differences remain.

“I do think there are places where we do have common ground with the new governor,” House Speaker Ben Toma told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Thursday.

“But details matter and also tones matter when it comes to engaging on some of those harder issues.”

Some issues, Toma said, had the potential to bring about good work from both sides, such as water. He also was heartened to hear Hobbs address the southern border in her State of the State address Monday.

“The governor did mention … that now they’re paying going to be paying attention to what’s going on the border. That’s something we’ve been for 100% on the Republican side for years now.

“I get that it’s mostly a federal-level issue, but … we’ve tried to do everything we can to stem that issue,” Toma said, pointing to the container wall that was up for months in Cochise and Yuma counties.

Some of the harder issues to Toma, who has served in the chamber since 2017, include school choice and taxes.

“It was disheartening to hear the attack on school choices in the State of the State address,” he said. As majority leader, Toma guided House Bill 2853 through the Legislature.

The controversial law expanded Arizona’s school voucher program – Empowerment Scholarship Accounts – to all K-12 students, rather than a select group, including children with special needs.

“First of all, Arizonans want school choice,” Toma said. “I don’t think giving parents choice is equivalent to anti-public education.”

Toma also foresees a divide with Hobbs over taxes.

“Food tax, the rental tax that renters are paying – those are the types of things you’re going to see the Republican Caucus focus on,” he said.

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Arizona House Speaker Toma sees some common ground with Gov. Hobbs, Democrats