Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

May 4, 2010


Host: Ted Simons

Arizona Jobs

  |   Video
  • A look at Arizona’s employment numbers with Aruna Murthy, Director of Economic Analysis for the State Department of Commerce.
Guests:
  • Aruna Murthy - Director of Economic Analysis, State Department of Commerce
Category: Business/Economy   |   Keywords: economics, department of commerce,

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Tonight on "Horizon," Arizona's most recent job forecast suggests slow-going for the rest of the year. We'll hear more about that. We'll talk about the impact budget cuts will have on mental health programs in our state. Plus, we'll check in with "Ballet Arizona." That's next on "Horizon." Good evening and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. The FBI is investigating a suspicious envelope sent to Governor Brewer's office. The Capitol went into lockdown for an hour today after an employee opened the envelope and a white powder spilled onto a computer. No one was harmed in the incident. The powder is being analyzed by the state health lab. A new poll is out on Senate Bill 1070. The Rocky Mountain poll, conducted by phoenix-based Behavior Research Center, finds that 52 percent of those surveyed statewide support the new immigration law. 39 percent are against it. The poll found most support for the law among whites, republicans and older people, while democrats and minorities opposed it the most. The poll also found support waned, slightly, after the governor signed the measure. And the Phoenix Suns announced that they'll be wearing their "Los Suns" jerseys for the second game of their playoff series against the San Antonio Spurs. The game will be played tomorrow night on Cinco de Mayo. Suns owner Robert Sarver says he and the team's players want to celebrate the team's diversity while at the same time show opposition to the state's new immigration law. Arizona is expected to lose 50,000 jobs this year. That's much higher than a previous forecast from the Arizona department of commerce. But next year, the state is expected to see an increase in jobs. Here to discuss all this is Aruna Murthy, director of economic analysis at the Department of Commerce. Good to have you here. Thank you for joining us.

Aruna Murthy:
Thank you.

Ted Simons:
50,000 jobs lost. The forecast for 17,000. That's a lot more than forecast. What happened out there?

Aruna Murthy:
For the year 2009, the observed losses in terms of total non-farm jobs were way higher than we anticipated before, so since forecasts are based out above the numbers in the past, that was the result for --

Ted Simons:
Kind of a snowballing affect, cumulative effect sort of thing.

Aruna Murthy:
That's right.

Ted Simons:
But now the forecast suggests we may be seeing better times as of next year. Why is that? What are you seeing out there?

Aruna Murthy:
Economic conditions are improving. The past eight months, the year-over-year change in terms of losses has been slowing down. We're seeing total non-farm losses declining. We started in April 2009, and as of March 2010, the losses declined year-over-year to about 3.9 percent. So if the strength continues, we should hit that point pretty quick.

Ted Simons:
As far as this year is concerned, it seems like the only sectors doing half decently is tourism, hospitality, leisure and such, education and health, is that pretty much on the mark there?

Aruna Murthy:
That's right. The gain in leisure and hospitality is small. These two sectors, again, we don't lead to sectors, which will be observing gains in 2010 and 2011. With the exception of these two sectors in 2011, we are seeing about four other sectors where gains are expected in 2011.

Ted Simons:
Real quickly, before we get to that, I know the two very important industries in Arizona, construction and aerospace. Start with aerospace. What are you seeing there?

Aruna Murthy:
In 2010, we are expecting a loss in jobs in the aerospace industry. In 2011, we expect it to be flat. In the aerospace industry, unlike -- even when during the recessionary times the total non-farm employment was declining and manufacturing employment was declining, overall, the aerospace industry was growing. But with recent cancellation of the defense contracts, and there has also been a number of positions that have not been decided yet but if the defense programs, the C-17, based on the outcome of these programs, the general feeling is that the spending on aerospace will decline.

Ted Simons:
Now, as far as construction is concerned, some folks would say they would like to see the state a little less dependent on construction jobs, and you're saying that may very well be the case, huh?

Aruna Murthy:
Yes, it is always good in terms of bad times, but now dependent on construction, we had 9.5 percent of our total non-farm base dependent on construction and about the peak times of construction, June 2006. But now the share of non-farm employment reduced to 4.6. The U.S. is 4.3, so hopefully we'll be following the trend similar to the U.S. in terms of how our economy looks like down the road.

Ted Simons:
Is there any way, and I think I know the answer here, but is there any way to know the impact of a couple of very controversial topics? I'll start with the temporary sales tax increase. Can that be factored in right now at all? If that were to pass, can you do any of that at all? Or do you have to wait and see?

Aruna Murthy:
I haven't done any study, actually, assessing the impact of the sales tax revenue on employment. But when these projections were made, they were based on data as of December 2009, so there might be certain sectors, which could be impacted if the sales tax revenue were not to be passed. I mean, mainly the education and health services sector, and, you know, the security areas. But outside of that, I cannot give you any numbers to say what might be the volume of people losing jobs.

Ted Simons:
And I would imagine the same scenario when it comes to all these folks saying they will boycott Arizona, they'll not buy from Arizona companies, it is impossible to gauge that now, correct?

Aruna Murthy:
Exactly.

Ted Simons:
Bottom line, we're seeing things should be bottoming out, that's the bottom line, this year and improvement next year. Would you be surprised if that improvement didn't happen next year?

Aruna Murthy:
I feel optimistic of the general economic indicators are that we're heading in the right direction. Almost all the economists in the area are predicting slow to moderate recovery, so hopefully, if the trends continue as to what we're observing right now, the recovery is down the road.

Ted Simons:
Okay, that's an optimistic note and a good one to stop on. Thank you for joining us.

Aruna Murthy:
Thank you very much.

Ballet Arizona

  |   Video
  • A conversation with Ib Anderson, artistic director of Ballet Arizona. He’ll discuss the new production, "Play" and the Ballet’s financial situation.
Guests:
  • Ib Andersen - Ballet Arizona Director
Category: The Arts   |   Keywords: ballet, Ballet Arizona,

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
"Ballet Arizona" will be performing at the Kennedy Center this season. The company will also perform an original "Local" production this month. I'll talk to the artistic director of "Ballet Arizona," but first, Mike Sauceda tells us about the company's latest production.
Mike Sauceda:
Dancers from "Ballet Arizona" getting ready to form a play, the latest production is a full-length ballet by the artistic director, Ib Andersen. One of the performers in the play explain what people can expect from the ballet "Play."

Ilir Shtylla:
It is a full-length ballet. I believe an hour and a half. It has so many different sections to it, I think people, when they come to see it, they will get all kinds of different flavors to it. Not just one in particular classic ballet, neo classical, contemporary maybe a little bit to it, very dramatic lyrical, and in the end, there is a whole ensemble, the whole company does the finale, which it's crazy, the music goes so fast and it's like you got, I don't know, maybe 30 dancers on stage or something like that dancing at the same time. So it's exciting.

Mike Sauceda:
He hopes to get on the floor with the other dancers soon. He is recovering from an injury. He is coming up on his seventh year with the ballet. Originally from Albania, he says he has stayed with "Ballet Arizona" because he likes the company.

Ilir Shtylla:
I do like it. There is a lot of good things happening here from a dancer's point of view. It is a smaller company so we get to dance a lot of good stuff. We work a lot, compared to other bigger companies. I guess you will be a little bit more difficult. But here, sometimes you get to do great stuff, and that's how sometimes you get to do just -- just dancing.

Mike Sauceda:
He says dancers enjoy working with artistic director Andersen.

Ilir Shtylla:
It is good because you get more of that training, like what he went through and he's obviously gotten, working when he first moved to the states, I don't know how many years ago that was, but it's good to see exactly what he was taught and like how he was explained all these roles that he did when he was a principal with the New York City Ballet.

Mike Sauceda:
The production play is described in the publicity piece at "drop dead sexy".

Ilir Shtylla:
It is drop said sexy, yes, but I hope nobody will literally drop dead, but it is a very good piece, yeah.

Ted Simons:
Joining me now is "Ballet Arizona" Artistic Director Ib Andersen. Good to have you here. Thank you for joining us. We will talk about the drop dead sexy piece in a minute, but I have to ask you, you've been with "Ballet Arizona" for 10 years. What brought you out here?

Ib Andersen:
Change. I actually was here two years before I got the job. So I was freelancing then, and I ended up actually liking Arizona, maybe mostly the blue sky.

Ted Simons:
Yeah.

Ib Andersen:
So I applied for directorship and I got it.

Ted Simons:
When you applied, were you looking -- were your expectations here and after 10 years, have they stayed here or are they moving over here a little bit?

Ib Andersen:
Well, when I started, you know, I mean, the company was -- a week after I started, the company basically was ready to fold if we didn't raise like $450,000 in 30 days. Which we ended up doing. So I started with a very difficult situation, and it's been, you know, we've been building year after year, brick by brick. I mean, the company now is, the budget is more than twice what it was and, I mean, everything is much more.

Ted Simons:
When you came on board, was there a culture you needed to change? Was there a mindset? What did you bring?

Ib Andersen:
No, the company is -- next year it is going to be 25 years, which is nothing in terms of a ballet company. Old companies, we're talking about maybe 250 years. So 25 years, it's nothing. And it takes, you know, in the 10 years I've been here, it takes a long time to make a significant stamp. You can change things very fast, but to really do what you need to do, I mean, I've only -- well, scratched more than the surface, but maybe not so much more.

Ted Simons:
What would you like to see? What is a goal, a relatively short-term goal that you still need to reach?

Ib Andersen:
Well, the bigger company, more performances, all the shows with live music. And the end, because it is about audience building, but Arizona, I mean, Phoenix is a huge city, you know, so it should be possible here. It's just everything in Arizona is sort of pioneering work because it is such a young state. You don't have that, like the east coast, where the cities are -- so it's different environment.

Ted Simons:
Has to be a challenge, isn't it?

Ib Andersen:
Yeah, but it's a good challenge because it's sort of what you do, there's no real preconceived ideas of how it should be done, so you will have -- you have great freedom here.

Ted Simons:
With that in mind, the production of "Play," which we saw a little bit there in the piece, at least the rehearsals and practice and those sorts of things, talk about the dynamics here. What are we looking at? Drop dead sexy, we understand that to a certain degree, what does that mean in the ballet world?

Ib Andersen:
Well, this ballet, you could see it is in seven sections and each section is very different than the previous. And some of them you would maybe say is quite sexy because it's -- it is based on "Play," on the word play, so of many different elements. So what can I say about it, ballet, you know, you can do things with ballet that you can't really do with anything else. It's a different medium. It's making music visible. I mean music, with music you can do anything and it can express things you cannot put into words. That's how ballet is. Poetry.

Ted Simons:
People that are watching that say it sounds interesting but I never seem to understand ballet, what would you tell them?

Ib Andersen:
There is nothing for you to understand just sit there and open your eyes and what you get is what you get. And if you see it a second time, you will get more. Third time more. First time, it's nothing, it's like listening to music, you might like it, you might not but you don't really -- you don't need to have an education to see it.

Ted Simons:
Interesting.

Ib Andersen:
I mean, it's like if you watch the Grand Canyon, you don't need to be educated to watch Grand Canyon. And human bodies, at least dancers, for a lot of them, they are beautiful to watch. You don't need to have an education to watch bodies. You have music and something and you -- yeah.

Ted Simons:
So you sit there, and if it's okay, if you want to watch that particular dancer do that particular thing, knowing that the expert over here might be watching a whole different thing, giving something else completely, as long as you're getting that out of it, good enough.

Ib Andersen:
There are no rules. There's no rules. It's not like you need to understand something that are there, and if you don't understand it, then so what.

Ted Simons:
Classical, you mentioned music, classical music, what it has gone through, very old, very traditional. But we've gone through certain things, jazz, different art forms. Is ballet transitioning? Are there new things in ballet all the time, avant-garde, in what's going on there?

Ib Andersen:
I mean, what is avant-garde? I think there are new ways of doing things that have already been done. Like, if you have words, it is how you put the words together that all the sudden make it sound new. The words are still the words they were 400 years ago, same thing with ballet, it is how you put it together that makes it new. I don't believe there is anything new, there is new -- I mean, that's sort of how it is. New combinations that makes it seem like you've never seen it before.

Ted Simons:
It sounds -- again the production is "Play." Thank you for being here.

Behavioral Health Cuts

  |   Video
  • Dr. Laura Nelson, Acting Director of the Division of Behavioral Health for the State Department of Health Services talks about implementing state budget cuts, and how they may impact people with serious mental illnesses.
Guests:
  • Dr. Laura Nelson - Acting Director, Division of Behavioral Health, State Department of Health Services
Category: Medical/Health   |   Keywords: budget, budget cuts, health, mental illness, mental illnesses,

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
State budget cuts will have a profound impact on many Arizonans with serious mental illnesses. This week, the Arizona Department of Health Services released guidelines for dealing with the cuts. They include plans for a statewide behavioral health crisis system, reduced benefits for the seriously mentally ill who are not Medicaid eligible and housing services for SMI adults who do qualify for Medicaid. Here to talk about that is Dr. Laura Nelson, Acting Director of the Department of Health Services Division of Behavioral Health. Good to see you. Thank you for joining us. Let's get the basics here as far as the budget cuts are concerned. We're talking 50-some-odd percent here?

Laura Nelson:
Yes, over 50 percent reduction in the state general fund dollars that went to support individuals who don't qualify for Medicaid, including adults with serious mental illness.

Ted Simons:
What kind of numbers are we talking about here?

Laura Nelson:
We went from about $127 million total in the general fund to support children and adults that don't qualify for Medicaid down to about 60 million. Since fiscal year 2008. We've gone from about 90 million to serve adults with serious mental illness down to about 40.

Ted Simons:
So let's talk about some of the ways the state is trying to, and providers, are trying to stretch these funds.

Laura Nelson:
We need to figure out how to make these dollars last the entire year, so we're looking at how we can provide the best services and the most economical way. The service package is essentially being changed from a full array of covered services, including transportation, residential services, in-patient facilities, to medications only and access to a physician to prescribe those medications.

Ted Simons:
And I want to get to medication in second here, but as far as case management and transportation and job training and these sorts of things, how much is really being cut back here?

Laura Nelson:
Essentially, all of it, if you are an adult that doesn't qualify for Medicaid. If you were found an adult with serious mental illness, you were entitled to the full array of benefits, it didn't matter if you qualified for Medicaid or not, but now it does. It is shrinking to medication only and doctors. No transportation, no case managers.

Ted Simons:
That's got to hit the rural areas especially hard.

Laura Nelson:
Absolutely. We've spent the last month reaching out to all 14,000 of these adults with serious mental illness around the state to rescreen them for Medicaid eligibility for access and for others we will spend May and June to meet with them individually, one on one, to look at services they've been receiving and how we can safely transition them to this reduced package.

Ted Simons:
You mentioned Medication; I know this is especially important for a lot of folks with serious mental illness. It sounds as if brand names are going to have to be out the door here in favor of generics. True?

Laura Nelson:
It looks like it at this point. We're continuing to investigate other opportunities through some of the pharmaceutical companies. They offer some prescription benefit programs. We're looking at those. There are some individuals who may actually have another source of insurance, like Medicare or VA benefits. In those cases, they may still be eligible for some of the brand name medications. There are also some discount pharmacy cards we may be able to tap into to offset the costs.

Ted Simons:
That has to be a concern because I know for a lot of conditions, those brand names, they don't have generics and some has to be the medication of choice.

Laura Nelson:
Absolutely. There are quite a few newer atypical anti¬psychotic medications that treat things like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder that aren't available in a generic form yet. There are still alternative medications that treat the same symptoms but everyone responds to medications differently so it is nice to be able to have a variety of options.

Ted Simons:
You mentioned in-patient care, crisis treatment. Again, correct me if I'm wrong, up to three days, okay, after three days, what? Out of pocket? What happens here?

Laura Nelson:
We don't have enough funding here, we do not believe, to support a crisis stabilization admission that would be longer than three days. What we are building into this crisis system package would be access to toll-free crisis lines so you could call if you needed crisis assistance, mobile teams that could come out and meet a person in the community, and then some brief in-patient kind of stabilization, 24 hours, perhaps up to 72 hours. Again, we need to stretch these dollars to last the entire year and the crisis services are meant to assist anybody who is experiencing a behavioral health crisis, it doesn't matter if you're Medicaid eligible or not.

Ted Simons:
And another factor is housing and the transition to state-funded housing and those sorts of things. When does that start? Does that start immediately? What goes on here?

Laura Nelson:
We have a line item in the budget for supportive housing. Housing is not a Medicaid-covered benefit so we've always had to use state dollars to support adults with serious mental illness to keep them in a stable home. It would include services such as rental subsidies, maybe some utilities and that kind of thing, so right now there are several hundred individuals that are seriously mentally ill that don't qualify for Medicaid that are currently getting some supported housing services. Moving forward, the only people that we will be placing into supported housing settings will be Medicaid-eligible adults with serious mental illness. For adults currently on Medicaid in a setting like that we will continue to serve them and look at other alternatives and try to transition them out to another safe place to live.

Ted Simons:
When you talk about a safe place to live, you're not talking about temporary housing, hotels, these sorts of thing, homeless shelters. You're talking about safer environments, correct?

Laura Nelson:
Exactly. Do we not see a hotel or homeless shelter or support group home to be a suitable place in the long-term or permanent for an individual, so that would not be what we would consider an alternative placement.

Ted Simons:
But if things continue as they are, and if the money is stretched as it is, will they wind up -- some folks will inevitably wind up there, won't they?

Laura Nelson:
It is possible. If they lose that supportive housing, they will not be eligible to come back to that program, so we would have to look at other alternatives, what could they afford to pay out of pocket, do they have a friend, a neighbor, a sibling, a family member who could perhaps offer some support for them, as well.

Ted Simons:
The idea that some of the worse-care scenarios, hospitals, jails, simply on the street, realistic?

Laura Nelson:
I think it is absolutely realistic. There are many individuals I am convinced that are non-title 19 and have an SMI, serious mental illness that will do just fine as long as they can continue to have access to their medications. There, likewise, is another group we would consider very high risk, and we're going to be monitoring them very, very closely. We will be working individually with all of them to try to transition them as safely as we can. But we will be following to see what outcomes they have.

Ted Simons:
Last question. From where you sit with all of this going on and trying to handle and manage all of this and make this kind of adjustment and transition, what's the biggest challenge?

Laura Nelson:
I think the biggest challenge is trying to communicate the same information to as many people as we can. There are rumors just flying out there about who is going to get what, or when they're going to perhaps, you know have to transition out of their housing, and it's, I think, dealing with the, this very sad reality but not being paralyzed by it. We absolutely have to accept what we're dealing with and make the best decisions we can.

Ted Simons:
All right, Laura, thank you for joining us, we appreciate it.

Laura Nelson:
Thank you.

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