Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

February 4, 2009


Host: Ted Simons

Education

  |   Video
  • Dr. Jim Zaharis, Vice President for Education for Greater Phoenix Leadership, a CEO business group whose mission is to improve economic vitality and the quality of life in our state, talks about investing in public education in light of recent state budget cuts.
Guests:
  • Dr. Jim Zaharias - Vice President, Education, Greater Phoenix Leadership
Category: Education

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
$580 million in spending cuts were part of the budget fix signed by the governor, nearly half came from universities and k-12 and more cuts are likely as the state faces a $3 billion deficit in 2010. Meanwhile, university presidents have been warning lawmakers to proceed with caution when making decisions that could affect the quality of education in the state of Arizona.

Robert Shelton:
The question is what does this state want to be when it comes out of this deep, deep financial crisis? And we feel strongly that education, and, of course, we're speaking for higher education, must be part of the solution. Must be part of the positive aspects to bring this state out of this situation. We are essential, we feel, in providing the talented workforce and essential in attracting businesses here. They want to know they have that workforce and know that their employees will have great educational opportunities for themselves and their families and in every dimension of economic growth and development, assuming we want to do more than just be a tourist destination, the universities are essential. The cuts at this level eliminate the universities' ability to perform that function and service to the people of Arizona.

Ted Simons:
Here to share his unique perspective between the dynamic of investing in education and cutting education is Dr. Jim Zaharias vice president for Education for Greater Phoenix Leadership, a business group whose mission is to improve economic vitality and the quality of life in our state. Jim was superintendent of Mesa Public Schools from 1984 to retirement in 1999, and he's spent two years as special assistant to president of ASU east and now as polytechnic.

Jim Zaharias:
Thanks.

Ted Simons:
Speaking in general terms and you can speak for yourself and the organization and group as well. But in general, the '09 budget, your thoughts.

Jim Zaharias:
The bill, they almost don't have an option because education consumes a large part and much is protected. Having said that, those who value education and see it as critical to the infrastructure of our state wish that we could have got a hold of this earlier and been a little more targeted in the cuts and planned the two years together and looked at this for the longer term. It's important that the cuts we take this year and next are thoughtful and leaves us in a strong position to grow out of this difficult time.

Ted Simons:
Does it seem to you that these cuts were thoughtful enough?

Jim Zaharias:
Well, I -- speaking from a legislative point of view, I don't think there was a lot of choice because that's where so much of the money is. The problem that some of us have who are speaking about the investment side the education, seeing that it's critical to the growth of the state, simply believe that we need to look at stuff other than cutting. As we look at all the options, we need to look at cuts, certainly, and significantly, but also enhancements to the revenue and whether fixes are short term or long term. We need to look at debt financing, that's all part of the solution. Whether that is this year or next year, it's no longer this year.

Ted Simons:
Right.

Jim Zaharias:
It will be for next year, we want that process to include all of those things as we look to solving this difficult challenge.

Ted Simons:
We get a lot of email and a lot of people, when we talk about education, a number of questions are circled around the idea that we're ranked 49th per pupil in spending. Why is Arizona not 39th, 29th or 19th?

Jim Zaharias:
The shorter answer is we don't spend enough money on education in the maintenance and operation budget. We do spend money on the capitol part and because we're building facilities for new children. But we have to have more will to spend the money in education on a per pupil basis and that's not yet occurred in Arizona.

Ted Simons:
As far as tax cuts, though, we have people -- and I want to ask you this question because it seems to apply that tax cuts, getting folks out here, the economic climate, improving that, that those are taking precedence over education spending. Give me your dynamic on that. Are tax cuts more important than spending money on schools?

Jim Zaharias:
No, if you look at the critical infrastructure of a state you have both, you have to have a business climate with a low tax structure but in addition, in order to generate more money from taxation but in addition to have to have a quality public education and university system. They are critical when employers come to this valley and look at this state; they look at that as one of the top variables. It has to be both if we're to be a vital state.

Ted Simons:
Do you think lawmakers are getting that message? Do lawmakers do you think understand the concept of spending $2 to get back three at a later date?

>> I think many do and history has proven that. Since proposition 301 and things have fallen, there's been an investment in education. We've hit a difficult economic downturn and part of that is our tax policy, it's not stable and is too cyclical and we're subject to downturns and education being a large part has to be part of the reduction because there's no option.

Ted Simons:
Talk about diversifying the economy. We're hearing more about that. This. Even the tax structure needs to be reformed, a lot of people say. Everybody says we've got to diversify and -- what do we do?

Jim Zaharias:
We have to look at, what we call stem, science, engineering, mathematic, that produce universities -- we think it's important to invest in our universities so we can incubate companies and develop a labor force to staff those companies that are high wage and high skilled people and diversified so we're not subject simply to construction cycles.

Ted Simons:
Is that something that has to wait until the economy turns around? Those investments are taking a back seat to cutting and cutting.

Jim Zaharias:
The challenge is to be careful about cutting back too far. We have to leave what I call seed corn embedded in our institutions so we can grow them back. If we cut too far, I think bodes great danger as a state and leaves us in a very bad position to grow out of this.

Ted Simons:
ASU president Michael Crow says it can send ASU back 20 some odd years in terms of growth in terms of growth and being viable and competitive on a global stage.

Jim Zaharias:
From a university standpoint, particularly, I think we've been able to -- we've been trying to build great universities. They are taking severe cuts. It's going to be harmful. The question is how do we grow out of this? We have to leave in place the critical infrastructure so we can build upon that. That’s why GPL would say “we believe we have to protect that. We have to protect the kernel of that, the core of that so we can grow out of it. We think these difficult times should perceive as temporary and not permanent.” Things we do in terms of cuts and revenue enhancements, we need to build a bridge where economy becomes stronger and revenue greater so we can continue the pattern we've started.

Ted Simons:
Some lawmakers say that things like debt financing, all that does is push things further down the road. It needs to be cut now. The concept of debt financing and things are gimmicks.

Jim Zaharias:
No, we believe as business people, speaking from the GPL’s point of view, that debt financing is a critical part of long-term asset financing. If something is lasting 30, 40, 50 years, we think that's a wise policy as we try to manage the revenue in our state.

Ted Simons:
As a long-time teacher, as you see the education climate in Arizona, you've been around the block and you have history and experience, have we seen education this vulnerable in the past?

Jim Zaharias:
Yes. I have. But I’m old. I've been through three cycles like this and there's difficult times and because education is the largest part of the state budget, k-12, and universities are a -- and universities are a critical part, and not protected they become subject to more cutting. So either you raise revenue or you take the cuts and where they're not voter protected or insured by formulas. This is the most difficult that I’ve seen in my 44-year career in terms of impact and these institutions are more critical to our state then ever. If we do not compete with a powerful education system, if we do not produce and compete well, we will not have the economic vitality we need as a state. The greatest asset we have is our human talent and that has to be developed and nurtured.

Ted Simons:
All right. Very good. Thank you for joining us on the program. Great discussion.

Jim Zaharias:
Thank you.

Legislative Update

  |   Video
  • Arizona Capitol Times reporter Jim Small reports on the latest from the state legislature.
Guests:
  • Jim Small - Legislative Reporter, Arizona Capitol Times
Category: Legislature

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Good evening and welcome to “Horizon.” I’m Ted Simons. Over the weekend, state lawmakers patched a $1.6 billion hole in this year's budget and now working on next year's deficit. Here for an update is Jim Small legislative reporter with the "Arizona Capitol Times." Good to have you back Jim, thanks for joining us.

Jim Small:
Thanks for having me, Ted.

Ted Simons:
Budget matters. A little dustup down there involving the speaker and a chairmanship. What's going on?

Jim Small:
It revolves around an issue debated during the '09 budget on Friday, late Friday night. There was an amendment that basically took all of the money away from the 21st century fund which is a program put in place a couple of years ago. Governor Napolitano was a big proponent and it was the state put up $25 million to match private contributions that were raised by science foundation Arizona and the money was then used, doled out in grants to biotech companies and to try and build the biotech industry and bring in the high-paying jobs that politicians love to draw to the communities. Representative Sam Crump, a Republican from Anthem, worked with freshmen lawmakers and dug their heels in late on Friday and said we're not going to vote for a budget that doesn't take all of the money out of there. Up to that point, there was an agreement to take $15 million out of $22 million and they said no, unless you take the other $7 million, we're not going to vote for a budget. People were in meetings all day. Eventually all of that money was taken out of the budget. On Monday, word came out that house speaker Kirk Adams was taking the government committee chairmanship away from Mr. Crump. Kind of an, “I told you we didn’t want to do these light proceedings while we haggled over this thing. And so I’m going to take your chairmanship away from you.”

Ted Simons:
Representative Crump, he held a press conference or almost -- Where do we go from here?

Jim Small:
Yesterday afternoon he called a press conference and right before, there was an interaction between the speaker and Mr. Crump and they were going to try to work out the deal and try to patch things up and he came to the press conference and says, here what is going on. I've been removed. And lo and behold, we get a press release that he's going to remain the chair and work on the 2010 budget.

Ted Simons:
So ousted now reinstated. What’s the reaction from lawmakers over the dustup?

Jim Small:
It’s mixed. A lot of people trying to figure out what happened and a lot of the details between what happened between Representative Crump and Speaker Adams, and I’m sure there are a lot of lawmakers and observers who are trying to get a bead on what happened and what shifted, what changed in Speaker Adams mind.

Ted Simons:
And Representative Crump is making a lot of noise and pushing the photo radar. This is someone making noise quickly.

Jim Small:
Absolutely, that's one of the issues he's gone after that. I know there's an issue that recently gone through regarding fire sprinklers in homes and not requiring them to be there like some cities and counties have done and he's definitely -- people have talked about him as possibly looking at a congressional seat. He lives in Shadegg’s district so he might step in when Shadegg steps down.

Ted Simons:
Now that the dust has settled, the hearings for the 2010 budget happening this week, who is down there?

Jim Small:
A number of departments that are down there, I know today there were some drug and gang prevention folks. Talking tomorrow, I think AHCCCS and D.H.S. are going to come in and give their presentation on the budget for the upcoming year. And where they can get money from, that's not going to take away the federal money or isn't protected by voter protection. And things like that.

Ted Simons:
Still, budget things going on. What's going on in the house?

Jim Small:
The house is hearing bills in their committee. Moving things forward. There are a lot fewer bills than in past years and even with fewer bills it seems there's fewer bills going through the committees as well. The agendas are a lot smaller. One committee, this week is going to be its first meeting. There's not an emphasis on passing a lot of policy. Everyone's attention is focused on the budget right now.

Ted Simons:
Fallout from the '09 fix. What are you hearing from Democrats? It seems like rush job is the catch-phrase.

Jim Small:
Yeah, Democrats are very up -- upset. Republicans set a February 1st deadline and if they don't act, there be $160 million added to the deficit. Democrats rejected that and said it was an arbitrary deadline. That's three weeks after the session begins. It began January 12th. So what happened -- everything happened quickly and when things happen quickly there's not a lot of information that gets out. People don't get time to digest stuff and the Democrats have been vocal about what they said is a lack of transparency and Bob Burns and Kirk Adams ran for the leadership on trying to pull back the veil of government and let people see what's going on and get a handle on budget issues.

Ted Simons:
Yet we're hearing of Democrats who still can't figure out what exactly is in this fix.

Jim Small:
Right and Kirk Adams defended it Friday night. A couple times last week before the media and said, look, the '09 budget already had hearings in front of the public. They talked about this stuff. We gave everyone who wanted to speak at the Appropriations Committee hearings and voice their opinions, gave them amp time and it didn't curtail the debate. And in order to meet the deadline, you have to balance the idea of transparency versus the idea of speed and those are two things that become mutually exclusive and they tried to walk the line as fine as they could and ended up having to push forward.

Ted Simons:
Last question. Am I sensing or is this from reading at a distance, increased angst, returning money to Sheriff Arpaio to fight illegal immigration as opposed to giving it to other counties or not giving it out at all?

Jim Small:
It's definitely an issue as cuts come through for education and healthcare and they're going to point and they did it early Saturday morning when they were doing the vote, said we're cutting all of these vital programs and yet here's a program we're giving more money to and that doesn't make sense. And going forward, I’m sure that will be part of the discussion.

Ted Simons:
Very good, Jim. Thanks, as always.

Jim Small:
Thank you.

Times Past

  |   Video
  • The Arizona Capitol Times published a book about Arizona's past, filled with stories you’ve probably never heard. Arizona Capitol Times publisher Ginger Lamb gives us a glimpse inside the new book, Times Past: Reflections from Arizona History.
Guests:
  • Ginger Lamb - Publisher, Arizona Capitol Times


View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Well, "Arizona Capitol Times," has been running a weekly feature called Times Past, with a corresponding photograph. 1500 Times stories have appeared and 120 are featured in a book, called "Times Past: Reflections on Arizona’s History." I recently spoke with the publisher Ginger Lamb about the book. Good to have you.

Ginger Lamb:
Thanks.

Ted Simons:
It’s a hoot to read.

Ginger Lamb:
Oh, thank you. Well, we're so pleased to have it produced because it was in the making for about 20 years and finally happened.

Ted Simons:
And again, the picture and the story, so it's easily digestible and you can refer to what you're talking about. You're not four pages down the line looking at a picture five pages away.

Ginger Lamb:
I’m sure you know our legislative editor and he took it under his wing and got the staff to work on it and sifted through all of those years of Time’s Past features and categorized it the way you see in the book.

Ted Simons:
Let’s start with an interesting scenario, the saloon, which was pretty much a townhallin early days.

Ginger Lamb:
Well, it's really interesting. There are a couple of saloons in Bisbee and as you know with Arizona being a mining community, that was where you went to play cards and unwind and that's where the action happened. And at one point in Phoenix, there were on 1,000 people who lived there but there were 15 saloons.

Ted Simons:
And this is a shot of the Brewery Gulch in Bisbee. To see it in the photographs is fantastic stuff. I think we have another photo of a saloon closer to home, in Gila Bend, The Whis… there's a key underneath it.

Ginger Lamb:
It’s called the road to Whiskey Ruin.

Ted Simons:
I guess a lot of business got done and socializing. It was the center of town, wasn't it?

Ginger Lamb:
Absolutely.

Ted Simons:
Let’s move on, we've got other historic avenues. The town of Sedona. I understand it was named after a woman. Tell us that story.

Ginger Lamb:
It’s a fascinating story. The Schneblies TC and Sedona moved to Oak Creek and built a home and they were originally from Missouri and what you're seeing in the picture is the two-story frame house they built and it became the focal point of the community at the time. They were trying to figure out what to name the town and wanted to come up with a post office there because all the mail came through Cornville and they couldn't figure out a name, and decided why not Sedona, so that's how Sedona came to be and the picture on the screen, that's T.C. and Sedona Schnebly.

Ted Simons:
And didn't they leave and did they ever come back?

Ginger Lamb:
They left for 25 years and finally came back to Sedona.

Ted Simons:
Isn’t that interesting? We have the first secretary of state which is a fascinating story as well.

Ginger Lamb:
That's appropriate given the inauguration of secretary of state Jan Brewer as our new governor, because this secretary of state, he really wanted to become governor and after serving as secretary of state, he left politics and came back and was victorious as governor.

Ted Simons:
Sydney Osborn.

Ginger Lamb:
I guess so.

Ted Simons:
And we have a familiar name coming through Phoenix. Buffalo Bill.

Ginger Lamb:
Buffalo Bill.

Ted Simons:
Yeah, and that was -- that was a big deal, that wasn't just a show, that was a carnival, a parade. The whole nine yards.

Ginger Lamb:
It was, and he was quite the showman.

Ted Simons:
And back in those days, was he still ride 'em and rope them, or getting a little long in the tooth?

Ginger Lamb:
Probably a little bit of both. [Laughter]

Ted Simons:
There’s Buffalo Bill for you. Big stories recently involving Arizona and the border and we think this is a news story. This is not necessarily new, is it? It's been going on since statehood and before.

Ginger Lamb:
That’s what amazing about this book. You can look back and a lot is really apropos what's going on today.

Ted Simons:
And there were stories of National Guard troops at the border and they were there to protect against Pancho Villa.

Ginger Lamb:
I know it’s amazing and after the work on the border and the wars going on overseas, they ended up becoming known as the 158th infantry division and when you reflect back on Arizona history to know they were protecting the border, we don't think about that.

Ted Simons:
Correct me if I’m wrong but wasn’t there an all Indian -- American Indian military unit stationed at the border?

Ginger Lamb:
Right.

Ted Simons:
Going through this book, all of this stuff, what surprised you the most?

Ginger Lamb:
I think just how rich the history of Arizona is. And all of the fascinating stories. One story you brought up was called his last shot and it was about a gentleman that was at a bar in Winslow and decided to hold up the bar and got shot and killed and dug him out of the grave and because they weren't sure he had his last shot of whiskey.

Ted Simons:
This is a great book. Thank you for joining us and talking about it.

Ginger Lamb:
Thanks Ted.

Ted Simons:
More information on the book can be found on the Arizona "Arizona Capitol Times" website. The website isAzcapitoltimes.com. Coming up on “Horizon,” state lawmakers learn about Maricopa County’s system of care for people with serious mental illnesses it’s a system in need of improvement. More on that Thursday evening at 7:00 on “Horizon.” That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.

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