Thursday, a bipartisan group of city elected officials gathered at Phoenix Fire Station Number 12 to send Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema back to Washington with an urgent message from local communities. Among the attendees were Mesa Mayor Scott Smith and Tempe Councilman Corey Woods. They were joined by local first responders and representatives from the Arizona Education Association and Classroom Teachers Association.
The group came together to express their concern about the looming budget sequester that will have far reaching effects on Arizona jobs, education, defense, health and public safety.
Earlier this year, Congress set a provision for sequestration to automatically take place on March 1st if no other deal was reached to lower the debt ceiling. Once Congress is back in session, they will only have four days to prevent the across-the-board to the national budget.
Mayor Scott Smith expressed his concern about job loss for the City of Mesa, but stated that he was "grateful to have the opportunity to bring together a bipartisan group in Arizona" that could send this message with Sinema.
"Avoiding the sequester is not about partisanship," said Sinema. "It's not about ideology; it's about jobs. It's about doing the just and honest thing for the families that sent us to Congress. And it's about doing right by the men and women in uniform who risk their lives daily to keep us safe. It's also about making sure that Arizona's best days are still ahead for our kids and young adults.
"If we allow this plan to sequester our vital programs -- which will take place in just one week-- we are doing the wrong thing.
"Thousands of kids in Arizona will lose their access to Headstart and quality education. Title 1 schools will lose their funding and more jobs will be lost. Sixty-five thousand defense related jobs in Arizona will be at risk. And we're turning the clock back on thousands of those who are finally receiving critical and preventative treatment for conditions like mental illness and breast cancer.
"I'm committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find the critical common ground to get through this. It's my hope that we can move past the partisan fighting and find the courage to do what's right."