PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Arizona’s Capitol grounds have long been home to giants of democracy. But now, a smaller sort of figure is casting an outsized shadow.
Six-year-old Ayden Solaris is the Capitol’s youngest, if unofficial, lobbyist.
“I’m gonna tell you about my bill,” Ayden pitched to Republican state Sen. Sonny Borrelli.
“You have a bill?” Borrelli asked.
Indeed he does. Ayden has been pushing for Senate Bill 1171, which would increase funding for gifted and talented programs across Arizona.
“It’s real difficult for schools to find funding to support programs,” said Ayden’s grandmother Connie Crowley.
Crowley is a gifted and talented teacher herself and has guided her grandson through his blossoming lobbying career.
“You know, beforehand, we let him know who he would be talking to and that there would be a room full of adults, and essentially that he’d be advocating for himself,” Crowley said.
And Ayden’s testimony has gotten attention, even if Ayden could barely see over the table at his recent committee hearing appearance.
Ayden has qualified for gifted and talented education and says he’s bored in his normal kindergarten class.
But it appears his efforts have been paying off, and more funding for programs that would help kids like him could be on the way.
SB 1171 has passed its initial votes in the state Senate, though the legislation still needs to be approved in the House.