The cost of treating high-achieving girls the same as high-achieving boys in Arizona is about $900, and that's simply too much for Republicans in the Arizona House of Representatives.
It's tough luck for those 40 girls, but equality might break the bank, so they'll just have to wait.
Here's the background on this absurd discrimination: Rep. David Gowan, R-Sierra Vista, introduced a bill to give free lifetime fishing licenses to all Arizona boys who've achieved the rank of Eagle Scout.
The Game and Fish Commission objected because the state would lose out on federal dollars, but it suggested a compromise of a reduced-price combo license for hunting and fishing. The full charge is $26.50 annually, and the chair of the Game and Fish Commission suggested a price of perhaps $3 or $4 for Eagle Scouts. Gowan agreed, and the bill headed for a vote before the full House last week.
That's when Rep. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, called the Republicans out.
He proposed an amendment, which failed along party lines, to give cut-rate fishing licenses to all Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts. Jerry Weiers, a Glendale Republican, called that idea "incredibly unintelligent" because the state could not afford it.
Perhaps that's true, but there's absolutely no financial rationale for treating boys who've achieved the rank of Eagle Scout and girls who've earned the Gold Award differently.
In Arizona last year, 1,341 boys became Eagle Scouts. The data on Gold Award winners isn't kept in the same calendar-year way, but we tallied 34. To make it a doomsday-case economic loss for the state, call it 40.
Game and Fish hasn't set a price yet, but if it goes with $4 - and if every new Eagle Scout decided to obtain a hunting and fishing license - the discount would cost the state $30,172 in lost revenue.
If all 40 girls wanted the same deal, the state would forgo another $900.
It's certainly true that Arizona needs every nickel and dime it can rake in these days. After all, the Legislature still needs to find another $5 billion to close the gap in its budget over the next 17 months. But to discriminate against Gold Award girls because they'd deny the state $900? We call that incredibly unintelligent.
Alas, the bill giving the price cut to Eagle Scouts only passed the full House 33-23.
All might not be lost for the little ladies, though, if they wait their turn.
Gowan described his Eagle Scout idea as a pilot program "of sort" and said he'd have no problem supporting a price break for girls in a couple of years.
He pointed out that this is the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America, and in two years the Girls Scouts will celebrate their centennial.
So hold on, girls. If the state isn't bankrupt by then, your representatives might decide $900 is a fair price to pay for equality.
Arizona Daily Star
How they voted
How Southern Arizona House members voted:
Yes: David Gowan, David Stevens, Frank Antenori.
No: Steve Farley, Daniel Patterson, David Bradley, Olivia Cajero
Bedford, Phil Lopes, Matt Heinz, Nancy Young Wright
Did not vote: Vic Williams