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Mayor's Newsletter, March 11, 2012
Mayor's Update
Tucson, Arizona March 11, 2012
At the Capitol in Phoenix
 #180DayPlan  Last week I took a trip to the State Capitol to meet with leadership in the House and Senate, Governor's staff, Southern Arizona legislators and other Arizona mayors. You can hear KUAZ's coverage of my trip here.

Democratic and Republican mayors alike delivered the message to our State Legislature that cities and towns are leading the way in job creation, and it is critical the state not stifle those efforts with legislation to preempt local control and create new, unnecessary bureaucracy and red tape.

Calling some of this session's bills "Orwellian ... that aim to reduce regulatory burdens by creating more regulations" for cities and towns, a recent Arizona Republic editorial asked the question: "Do Republican legislators love bureaucracy?"

Arizona's mayors hope the answer to that question is no.

In addition to preserving local control and avoiding needless bureaucracy, mayors unanimously agreed the state needs to stop sweeping HURF funds - Highway User Revenue Funds.

Local governments depend on HURF, which comes from highway user taxes and fees, to repair and maintain roads. But in the last 11 years, state sweeps have taken $204 million of HURF funds from cities and towns. The state uses HURF to fund the Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Motor Vehicle Division - agencies that should be funded out of the state's general fund. In fiscal year 2012, 28% of DPS' budget is projected to come from local governments' share of HURF funds.

HURF sweeps have left local governments with a backlog of road repair and maintenance projects for which there is no funding. And the longer road repair and maintenance is delayed, the costlier it becomes. HURF sweeps have taken their toll on the condition of our roads, as anyone in Tucson knows all too well. Our message to the State Legislature: Stop using money for potholes to fix budget holes.

This session is expected to be a short one, so legislators can devote time to campaigning. I plan to continue conversations with legislative leadership, the Governor's office, our Southern Arizona legislators and others in the House and Senate before the Legislature adjourns. It's important Tucson's interests be represented.

Meeting with elected officials and advocating on behalf of Tucson are part of the Mayor's 180 Day Work Plan.
Tucson Festival of Books: Great reads for all ages
Joined by Make Way for Books Executive Director Dr. Mary Jan Bancroft and special guest Llama Llama: click for higher resolution. #180DayPlan  Last week's press conference highlighted the Tucson Festival of Books. In just four years, the festival has become one of Tucson's signature events and the fourth largest book festival in the country. You can read the Arizona Daily Star's coverage of the festival here.

I had the pleasure of being joined by representatives of the festival and its beneficiary organizations, as well as special guest Llama Llama, who wore his red pajamas. I look forward to sharing this photo - and reading Llama Llama Red Pajama - with my grandchildren someday. I'm sure they'll be impressed.

Helped by over 1,500 volunteers, this year's festival brought in over 400 authors to give presentations and meet their readers. There were many activities for children as well, from babies and toddlers to school age and beyond. Free to the public, proceeds benefit literacy organizations in Southern Arizona, including Literacy Connects, which provides literacy education for all ages, and Make Way for Books, which works to get pre-school children ready to read.

Thanks to the organizers, the sponsors - including major sponsors the University of Arizona and the Arizona Daily Star, the authors and the volunteers for a job well done. And thanks to our Southern Arizona literacy organizations as well. Literacy lays the foundation for success at school, in the job market and, to a large part, in life.

Working to help foster excellence in education is part of the Mayor's 180 Day Work Plan.
Cyclovia: Great rides for all ages  
Don't miss next weekend's Cyclovia, an annual car-free event on Sunday, March 18 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. that opens selected streets for walking, bike riding, skating and running. Like the book festival, it's free to the public.

This year's route runs from downtown through South Tucson and back again, with arts and crafts, live music, dancing, food tastings, a climbing wall and a bike rodeo - to name just a few activities along the route. For more information, visit cycloviatucson.org. A copy of the route is available at cycloviatucson.org/route-2/.
2012 Arid LID Conference in Tucson
This year's Arid LID (Low Impact Development) Conference will be in Tucson from March 27-29. Hosted by local non-profit Watershed Management Group, the conference features experts in water conservation and management. Registration is open until March 19 for the three-day conference. Find out more at their website, aridlid.org.
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