When our country's housing market crashed, Arizona felt it more than just about any other state in the nation.
A record number of foreclosures has affected our friends and neighbors all across our state. And though the market is slowly improving, the housing crisis is far from over. As we head into 2012, the Arizona Legislature should still be working to assist homeowners in holding on to their properties and avoiding foreclosures. It's good for them, it's good for the banks and it's good for our economy.
Instead, we have tea party Rep. Jack Harper, R-Surprise, introducing a bill that would require Arizona's middle-class families to bail out the banks, again. It's even more shocking when you consider his hometown is one of those hit the hardest in the housing crisis.
Harper wants to give complete power to banks. He wants to force homeowners to pay banks for any remaining values on foreclosed properties, even if the loans were made under deceptive or illegal conditions.
Harper clearly has his priorities in the wrong place.
No one should walk away from their mortgage, but hard-working families and individuals shouldn't be penalized for being victims of predatory lending practices and tough economic times.
Instead of demonizing our neighbors facing foreclosure, we should be working to help keep people in their houses. Instead of bailing out the banks again, we should be prosecuting those who engaged in fraudulent and predatory lending.
But the tea party, which controls the state Legislature, refuses to work with anyone and risk breaking its rigid ideologies to make improvements for Arizona's families.
These extremists ignored multiple bills offered by House Democrats. One of these, HB 2269: Truth in Mortgage Brokers Act, cracks down on bad acting mortgage brokers and protects borrowers from bad lending practices that would have worked to prevent fraud and keep families and homeowners in their homes. This bill did not receive a hearing because tea party legislators did not want to upset the bankers.
Instead, the tea party has spent the last two legislative sessions bailing out big state corporations, raising property taxes on homeowners, and attempting to raise income taxes for almost 90 percent of Arizonans.
I guess that wasn't enough though, as this new bill from Harper will be the final nail in the coffin for many homeowners who still are barely keeping their heads above water.
Leaders should be working together to grow our economy, create jobs, and keep people in their houses - not simply going after those who have been hit the hardest by the recession: the hard-working people of Arizona.
Let's protect the people, not the banks.
• Rep. Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix, is House Minority Leader at the Arizona Legislature. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.