The circumstances differ, but both Democrats running for Congress in the district that includes the Flagstaff region would raise taxes on millionaires and billionaires, in some cases to avoid deep federal cuts.
Tuesday's primary election will settle which of the two moves to November's general election, to face the Republican nominee.
Flagstaff attorney Wenona Benally Baldenegro would support ending Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy, raising corporate taxes, and closing tax loopholes to resolve a standoff over the debt ceiling. Automatic tax increases and substantial cuts at most federal agencies totaling about $500 billion are slated to occur in January if Congress does not take action, and the Congressional Budget Office has warned this could lead to another recession.
Flagstaff attorney and former U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick would support "ensuring that millionaires, billionaires and corporations pay their fair share" to keep Social Security solvent and Medicare operating at today's levels. Kirkpatrick was answering a question about what measures, if any, she would support to keep the government's two largest domestic programs solvent.
Kirkpatrick voted in 2010 to extend Bush-era tax cuts.
Both candidates support a recent order by President Obama allowing young illegal immigrants to stay in the country if they meet a number of conditions, with Kirkpatrick supporting a guest-worker program and Benally Baldenegro supporting broader legalization of those working here illegally today.
"...78 percent of all Arizonans support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants," Benally Baldenegro wrote.
They differ on whether development at Arizona Snowbowl was a good idea.
Benally Baldenegro says it will strain community relations with area tribes and that there are still outstanding questions about water quality.
Kirkpatrick asked the Agriculture Department to use groundwater to make snow in attempting to forge a compromise on a development she supports.
The daughter of a teacher and single mom raised in Kayenta, Benally Baldenegro is attempting to become the first Native American woman elected to Congress.
Kirkpatrick is attempting to regain the seat she held from 2008 to 2010, until her defeat by Republican Paul Gosar, who holds the seat today but is running for re-election in a different district.
Cyndy Cole can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 913-8607.
Q: Congress agreed to increase the debt ceiling in July 2011 to avoid a possible default, but only temporarily. Later this year, automatic, across-the-board cuts in most federal programs, including the military, will take place unless Congress agrees to specific budget cuts of its own. What do you think should be done and why?
Benally Baldenegro: When in Congress, I will advocate for a balanced approach to deficit reduction that will include ending the Bush tax handouts for corporations and the very wealthy. It is unacceptable for Congress to support extending these corporate tax loopholes, while severely cutting vital programs, such as Medicare, Pell Grants, and veterans' services. I will fight any efforts to balance our budget on the backs of middle-class families, seniors, and veterans.
Polls show that the American people overwhelmingly agree that we must demand that corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes, and we must protect our nation's middle-class.
Kirkpatrick: The loss of critical education funding, defense contracts and other funds could mean the loss of tens of thousands of Arizona jobs. Sequestration cuts would hurt our school districts that rely on Title I and impact-aid funding and would weaken our job-providing defense sector. These cuts are unacceptable. If Congress is incapable of preventing them, I will fight for solutions that restore critical resources to Arizona and strengthen our local economies. This is the leadership I provided, for example, when I worked on the Four Forests Restoration Initiative, which is bringing 600 jobs, improving forest health and attracting new businesses.
Q: Describe measures you support or oppose to address illegal immigration and the millions of individuals already living in the United States who have immigrated illegally.
Kirkpatrick: I support a federal immigration strategy that protects our borders from criminal cartels while offering fair and sensible reforms for people working hard and playing by the rules. I oppose amnesty but support a mechanism to match willing workers with willing employers while protecting the rights of legal immigrants. Congress and the federal government should develop a program to help farmers, ranchers and industries that face labor shortages. I support the DREAM Act, which provides a fair and sensible process so that we aren't punishing young people who were brought here as children and are working toward a stronger future.
Benally Baldenegro: Congress' failure to pass immigration reform led to the draconian state law SB1070, which the U.S. Supreme Court recently held unconstitutional.
The majority of Americans want comprehensive immigration reform. In Arizona, nearly 73% of Arizonans support the DREAM Act and approximately 78% of all Arizonans support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Arizonans want to see our broken immigration system fixed. I will work to pass immigration reform, including the DREAM Act, so that immigrants can continue to contribute to our economy, and we can focus our law enforcement resources on the prosecution of violent criminals and drug smugglers.
Q: Congress has voted on various measures to allow or prohibit uranium mining on about 1 million acres of federal land surrounding the Grand Canyon. How would you vote on such proposals, and why?
Benally Baldenegro: Growing up on the Navajo reservation, I saw, first-hand, the devastating effects of uranium contamination. Many uranium companies have still not cleaned up the deadly contamination that they left behind, decades ago, and I fully support the ban on uranium mining near the Grand Canyon.
U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva has led the effort to protect the Grand Canyon from uranium contamination, and he has endorsed my campaign, as have a number of local environmental organizations. Congressman Grijalva and the people of Arizona know that I am committed to the health and safety of the Arizona people, ahead of corporate profit.
Kirkpatrick: I strongly oppose uranium mining at the Grand Canyon, and I stand with Navajo, Hopi, Havasupai and other tribes in this opposition. We must protect this environmental treasure, which is also an economic driver that brings 12,000 jobs and $700 million into our economy. Removing protections would risk contamination of the Colorado River, a major water source here. The Navajo Nation still suffers health repercussions from past uranium mining. This year, several politicians tried to override the administration's decision to protect 1 million acres from new mining. This is a reminder we need people to stand up for the Canyon.
Q: Spending for the government's two largest domestic programs, Social Security and Medicare, is projected to exceed the taxes coming during the coming decade, the Congressional Budget Office states. Would you support taking measures to make them solvent? If so, specifically what would you support? If no, what might you propose?
Kirkpatrick: We must protect Medicare's guaranteed benefit, which seniors have earned through a lifetime of hard work and middle-class families pay into for that protection later. I oppose any effort to dismantle Medicare and create a voucher system like the proposal in the Ryan budget. That approach raises costs for seniors by an average of $6,000 a year even as it gives tax cuts to millionaires and big oil companies. We can't stick seniors and the middle class with the tab to reform these programs. Instead, let's start by ensuring that millionaires, billionaires and corporations pay their fair share in taxes.
Benally Baldenegro: Social Security is a self-sustaining program that is funded by the payroll tax and not the U.S. Treasury. The program has not contributed to the deficit, and is currently running a $2.6 trillion surplus. GOP ideologues, like Paul Ryan, propose massive cuts to Social Security, despite this program paying for itself. They want to severely cut Social Security and Medicare, while supporting the massive corporate tax handouts that have largely been responsible for the national deficit.
Social Security has been the most successful social program in American history. I will fight efforts to privatize the program and/or drastically cut it.
Q: The Coconino National Forest approved snowmaking with reclaimed wastewater and other development at Arizona Snowbowl in 2005. Was that the right decision? Why or why not?
Benally Baldenegro: I do not support wastewater snowmaking on the San Francisco Peaks, for a few different reasons. Studies show that the wastewater used for this operation will contain harmful contaminants such as pharmaceuticals, hormones, and cancer-causing agents. Second, recent studies question the economic impacts of snowmaking. Third, this mountain is a sacred site to thirteen American Indian tribes, and desecrating it will strain important community relations. Additional studies need to be conducted to determine the long-term impacts and effects of using reclaimed wastewater to make snow for the Arizona Snowbowl ski area.
Kirkpatrick: Yes. Snowbowl has tremendous economic impact here, but we can find the right balance of encouraging growth, protecting our environment and respecting tribal communities. After the court rulings, when this became USDA jurisdiction, I worked with the Agriculture Department and stakeholders to find a path for the permitting process while addressing concerns. Because of tribal concerns about reclaimed water, I supported a proposal for a new water source to purify reclaimed water underground. Ultimately, the consensus was an approach that created jobs, secured a long-term water source and acknowledged the sacredness of the San Francisco Peaks to Native American tribes.
Q: The Navajo Nation is proposing to develop and a restaurant at the junction of the Little Colorado and Colorado River, and more facilities higher above the river. Is this a good idea for tourism? A bad one? Why?
Kirkpatrick: It's important to find ways to create and keep jobs in this region of the Navajo Nation, but I believe that tourism-related development projects must take into consideration the serious water and environmental issues here and ensure that appropriate provisions are in place. New developments that could increase tourism or population growth must factor in the potential impact on our water supply. The sacred sites need to be protected at the confluence, but ultimately I support the empowerment of the local Navajo chapter to make these decisions.
Benally Baldenegro: I stand with the residents of the Gap-Bodaway community, who recently passed a resolution opposing the proposed Grand Canyon Escalade, a resort and tramway to be located at the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers. I agree with the residents of the Gap-Bodaway community that private investors and stakeholders will become the real beneficiaries of this project. I join the residents in the area in their efforts to continue protecting and preserving this internationally-renowned treasure.