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State Representatives Barbara Parker and Cory McGarr speaking on the floor of the Arizona House of Representatives at the Arizona State Capitol building in Phoenix, July 31, 2023. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Heated Exchanges Mark Arizona Budget Aftermath

Parker, Toma go head-to-head over alleged sexist remarks

By Christy Kelly, June 24, 2024 5:00 am

Budget negotiations in Arizona were highly contentious this year, with lawmakers roundly condemning the process. Governor Katie Hobbs and Democrats negotiated with Speaker of the House Ben Toma (R-27) and Senate President Warren Peterson (R-14), with Hobbs ultimately signing. However, the process was marked by dramatic Republican infighting.

“This budget was a trainwreck. This process was a trainwreck. It has bastardized the way the legislative process is supposed to work and I vote hell no!” Representative Alex Kolodin (R-3) exclaimed.

He pointed out that rank-and-file Republicans received the “thousand-page” budget document only three days ago. In committee, Kolodin became a one-person wrecking crew, killing bills until Republicans added another member to ensure the bills passed.

“The reality is that this is what happens when weak Republicans negotiate a budget in secret with Democrats,” the Arizona Freedom Caucus stated in a lengthy post on X.

Representative Barbara Parker (R-10) was so fired up about events surrounding the budget process that she called the popular radio show “The Afternoon Addiction,” hosted by conservative radio personality Garrett Lewis, to spill the beans. Parker, who sits on the Appropriations Committee and the Appropriation Budgetary Formula Subcommittee, said that she voiced numerous concerns about the budget in committee during a 4-5 hour caucus session. On the radio show, she elaborated that she called out Toma “on another issue,” and he accused her of taking “marching orders” from someone in the Senate. Parker told Lewis that she found the notion that she didn’t have her own mind “sexist.”

She explained to Lewis that she had decided to oppose the budget based on her analysis while a member of the Appropriations Committee. Parker detailed that she and Toma disagreed on whether the budget was, in Toma’s words, “wonderful,” insisting it was, in her opinion, a horrible budget. She also stated that Toma told her he prioritized people who “get in line” and are “helpful in finishing the session.” She insisted this was the most “humiliating” and “embarrassing” thing that had ever happened to her. Parker, who is not seeking reelection, ultimately voted against the budget bill. (Listen to the full 12-minute Parker call here).

Lewis acknowledged that he invited Speaker Toma onto the show to respond to Parker but received no response. Lewis’s radio show, “The Afternoon Addiction,” has consistently criticized Toma’s leadership.

In response to questions about Parker’s statement from the Arizona Globe about Parker’s statement, a representative from the Speaker’s office stated, “Anyone who knows Ben Toma knows he would never exhibit any such behavior that was alleged. Anyone in their right mind who hears of this slanderous allegation would laugh out loud. As such, this claim by Ms. Parker is 100% garbage.”

Arizona Globe reporters also contacted Rep. Parker’s office but have not received a response.

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