Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

January 11, 2005


Host: Michael Grant

Republican Legislative leaders


  • Governor Janet Napolitano is setting the stage for the legislative session by stressing issues normally championed by the GOP. How did the state of the state address go over with Republican legislative lead centers? We'll talk to the Senate president and house speaker about the speech and their own agenda for the legislative session.
Guests:
  • Ken Bennett (R) - State Senate President
  • Jim Weiers (R) - State House Speaker


View Transcript
>>> Janet Napolitano:
The people of this state work hard. They're building businesses. They're saving and struggling to educate their children. They are doing their part. They want us to do our part. We here in this chamber do not have the luxury of partisanship or defeatism. The choice we face is not between Republican or Democrat but between those who say, no, not ever and those who say, yes, we can.

>>> Michael Grant:
Governor Janet Napolitano setting the stage for the legislative session by stressing issues normally championed by the GOP. How did the state of the state address go over with Republican legislative lead centers we'll talk to the Senate president and house speaker about the speech and their own agenda for the legislative session. Could we see more flooding in Oak Creek canyon and other parts of the state? We'll talk to the office of emergency management about the latest storm and the precautions people should take.

>>> Michael Grant:
Good evening. I'm Michael Grant Grant. Welcome to "HORIZON." Governor Napolitano faces a more conservative legislature and her speech to lawmakers yesterday obviously took that into account. Fiscal responsibility, tax cuts, the effects of illegal immigration just some of the topics addressed. Governor Napolitano did ask for more funding for all-day kindergarten and state-subsidized childcare. How did the 35-minute speech go over with those in charge of the two legislative chambers? Joining me is Senate president Ken Bennett and house speaker Jim Weiers.

>>> Michael Grant:
How are you?

>>> Ken Bennett:
I'm okay. Little cold but...

>>> Jim Weiers:
I hope you're dry.

>>> Michael Grant:
Well, Senator, what did you think -- give me an overall reaction to the speech. I notice --

>>>Ken Bennett:
I thought we might have to check her voter registration file to see if she had come all the way over. I thought the general tone and the theme that she tried to set of, yes, we can, was a positive one and is something we can work with and build on, hopefully, over the next couple of years.

>>> Michael Grant:
Speaker Weiers was she looking at the pry mayor and general election results as well as looking ahead to working with a slightly differently constituted legislature in formulating that speech?

>>> Jim Weiers:
Our governor is a very intelligent governor and I think she takes everything into consideration. Not the least being the face of the legislature has changed somewhat, in fact changed a lot in the last couple months, and this is something that I'm sure had that a lot of effect as far as the direction on some of the thing she said yesterday.

>>> Michael Grant:
Okay. We want to get some of your reaction to specific issues in the speech as well as talk about some of the legislature's priorities. Let's first run the clip for you on Governor Napolitano talking about fiscal responsibility.

>>> Janet Napolitano:
We balanced our budget and eliminated our deficit without cutting education or gutting vital services. We did it without raising taxes. And we did it while making the most profound investment we can make in the education of our children. This is the discipline I intend to continue.

>>> Michael Grant:
Not much to disagree with there, senator Bennett.

>>> Ken Bennett:
Well, saying you balanced the budget and eliminated the structural deficit is one thing but to have really done it with our own resources is a different matter. The only way we were able to balance the budget last year was that we had about $350 million of one-time assistance that came in from the federal government, primarily in some healthcare areas. We are not going to receive that $350 million again next year. We also did probably about $75 million of fund transfers from a variety of funds around the state back into the general fund. And then we borrowed again about $250 million for new school construction that we are doing every year, and we were paying cash as we go just a come years ago. So there's almost $500 million just right there that we are not going to be able to borrow or rely on federal dollars, and so I think it was a bit overanxious to say that we have balanced the budget and eliminated the structural deficit. We hope to finish that job this year, but --

>>> Michael Grant:
Mr. Weiers, by legislative reckoning there is a structural defendant sit of approximately $750 million, have I got the number somewhere in the ballpark?

>>> Jim Weiers:
Depends on who you're talking about. It's lies figure and figures lie. We have a governor that says we have a balanced budget. We don't believe that. Structural deficit, real deficit gets confusing when you get into the conversation. I think Ken hit on the high points through gifts, borrowing, and transfers this is how we're able to come out with -- it was ant balanced budget per se because the structural deficits still occurred. But you're taking gimmicks and using accounting tricks to give the impression that it's a balance and it's not. This year we hope to come honest and to do it the right way and with the governor saying we balanced the budget and we had, I think she said, fiscal -- I can't remember the word she used -- Responsibility. Responsibility. I don't think it was there.

>>> Michael Grant:
All right. All-day kindergarten is a major centerpiece of the governor's agenda and here is what she had to say about that.

>>> Janet Napolitano:
So one of our most vital missions must be to extend all-day kindergarten so it is available to every child in every school in every community. All-day kindergarten is voluntary. Making it one of the largest school choice programs in state history. And today the parents of nearly 10,000 children in the toughest schools have the choice of all-day kindergarten. I propose to make it available for the parents of 10,000 more children this year.

>>> Michael Grant:
Mr. Weiers, obviously a substantial portion of the legislature came rather reluctantly to all-day kindergarten. The feel that I get now is that having started down the road the legislature is not inclined to go back the other way. Am I misreading what's happening at the legislature at this point on this issue?

>>> Jim Weiers:
You know, we don't know. We have lots of new people coming in, and even what happened the last session, lot of confusion as to why the things were done, and was it really truly something that we could do instead of going the full way and all-day kindergarten. The fact is that we have -- I've asked the governor if in fact this is something she truly has prioritized, show us where the funds come. We're already short. We're in a deficit. Help us find and locate the funds and show us the age program she wants to do and let's start with the conversation with show me the money, show me the program.

>>> Michael Grant:
What is the Senate showing? The feedback I'm getting might tinker with the thing with you a 180 degrees on all-day K is not on the list.

>>> Ken Bennett:
I agree with that. I don't see going back on what was done last year. I think it's a misnomer and many people need to understand that about half of kindergartners in Arizona already had all-day K when we did the all-day K last year. All we did was change the funding source for the schools that are the 10\% most poor.

>>> Michael Grant:
At one point you had a plan that was targeted more to the remaining 50\%?

>>> Ken Bennett:
Right. And so I don't see us going back, but the first couple years of a phase-in program are the easy part. It's the fourth and fifth year when you start to pick up huge chunks of the whole system that. You know, $25 million a year will probably get some debate as to whether we can do that to expand another little bit next year. But the fourth and fifth year is where you balloon to about a $200 million a year commitment, and we're just not there, able to do that.

>>> Michael Grant:
Incidentally, does the 10,000 school children number that she mentioned match the $25 million number that you just mentioned?

>>> Ken Bennett:
I think that's a fair number as to what you can do with 25 million, which is what we did last year, we did 25 million. But half of the state's kindergartners were already in all-day K. We just changed one of the funding sources.

>>> Jim Weiers:
But at that point that's not, again, 10,000 new all-day kindergarten. It's nothing more than supplanting what already existed and that's where the debate needs to start. My particular district ran a bond issue specifically for all-day kindergarten. And then to come back in and say that the people voted to do this and you do it, what about the other ones that have decided not to and yet the state is going to come back and pay them and should we at this point get the money received back for what we've already decided to put in our taxes up and above what we're already paying because it's a priority? It becomes kind of convoluted to the whole issue, should this be a local choice.

>>> Michael Grant:
The legal concern being whether or not under the decisions of the Supreme Court whether you agree or disagree, but they are decisions of the Supreme Court about having a uniform state weighed education system, and so can you do this on a local control basis?

>>> Jim Weiers:
Well --

>>> Michael Grant:
Maybe we'll leave that to the Supreme Court.

>>> Jim Weiers:
We'll leave it to the Supreme Court.

>>> Michael Grant:
Governor Napolitano mentioning something you wouldn't have heard in prior sessions when the state faced some big revenue short falls, tax cuts.

>>> Janet Napolitano:
There are some tax cuts we can now afford and should pass. We should expand the research and development tax credit for businesses that partner with our state universities. We should phase out the personal property tax for small business. And we should give tax relief to industries that manufacture goods in Arizona and export them all over the nation and all over the world. Let's export our goods, not our jobs.

>>> Michael Grant:
Senator, three proposals there that had been on the plate for a long time.

>>> Ken Bennett:
Right.

>>> Michael Grant:
Obviously supported fairly widely by both chambers with the governor proposing them. All three going to pass?

>>> Ken Bennett:
Well, I don't think you can probably do all three, and there are other options on the table in the house and the Senate. Most of the business community has informed us already that their highest priority is bringing down the 25\% assessment ratio that business property pays property tax on in this state --

>>> Michael Grant:
That's a stated legislative priority, is it not?

>>> Ken Bennett:
Well, yes -- that's one of the things in our tax code that makes businesses who look at Arizona -- that's one of the less attractive features of anybody contemplating bringing their business here. So we will look at all those things. It was ironic for the last year or two the governor and many of the Democrats in both chambers have been saying it was the tax cuts of the '90s that left us short of money now, and yet now she's embracing some tax cuts. So --

>>> Michael Grant:
Mr. Weiers how does the house see that? I mean, obviously the business personal property tax has also been seen as a negative in terms of --

>>> Jim Weiers:
They're all negatives. The governor's right on the mark, if in fact you want better paying jobs you need to bring the businesses in that are going to be able to afford those kind of wages and you can't do it when Arizona doesn't give those companies a reason to come here. You're not going to make on it fast food. You have to have companies that are saying we're willing to make the investment but you have to understand we're competing in a global market anymore. And so the bottom line to us is our bottom line, and the more that we work against businesses. And I've heard people say the reason businesses should pay more is because they can afford to do it, and I know that sound silly, but that's something I hear time and time again. They can't afford. The vast majority of businesses in Arizona are small businesses and they make it or break on it a month basis depending on that P&L and that balance sheet. It's hard times. There are sacrifices that are going to be made. If government is truly interested in helping, the best thing we can do is get off their backs, get out of their business and take away the tax burdens we place on their backs. And I think the governor has alluded to that.

>>> Michael Grant:
But if you have a legislative priority to eliminate the structural deficit, I mean, show me the money.

>>> Ken Bennett:
Well, any tax cut or any new spending proposal or any expansion of an existing program is going to have to be factored in to the available resources. And utmost in our mind is eliminating the structural deficit and putting the state on sound financial footing for the next decade and we're only going to do that by really balancing the budget. Not playing some of the tricks and one-time gimmicks that have made it look like it's been balanced the last year or two.

>>> Michael Grant:
Final clip from the governor's speech yesterday. Governor Napolitano raising some eyebrows when she blamed Congress for failing to do it's job controlling illegal immigration.

>>> Janet Napolitano:
Arizona has more people illegally crossing our southern border than the other three Border States combined. It is time for the national government to step in, devote the resources, and do its job of protecting the border. It is time for real immigration reform. And while we work well with our neighbors in Mexico on so many issues, it is time for the Mexican government to do its part to control illegal immigration.

>>> Michael Grant:
Mr. Weiers, obviously most people I don't think would disagree with the statements there. I guess what I found maybe more surprising than the shot at the federal government was the shot at the government of Mexico.

>>> Jim Weiers:
Sure. Especially as she was extremely and I say she the governor, extremely vocal when it came to opposition of prop 200. Prop 200 is not solving anything. I think it was just -- everybody's to the point of frustration. We see the tremendous amount it's costing. You have some counties in Southern Arizona that because of illegal immigration it's just eating up every available dime they have within their budget. They don't have any money to do anything. We're talking everything from healthcare, back into public safety, we're talking the schools. And a lot of the issues we're talking about right now even with schools, even all-day kindergarten. Directly will come back and you see connections within the immigration problem all the way with the ESL. The Flores lawsuit that currently we're trying to get through, the cost of what it's costing Arizona citizens at this point to get into, what is the cost to educate a child.

>>> Michael Grant:
It's a nice sentiment but one we've been dealing with for a long time, not just in the past five years or so. Do you see any major breakthrough on that front vis-a-vis the federal government any time soon?

>>> Jim Weiers:
If there's enough pressure I guess anything could change but, no, when you have --

>>> Michael Grant:
Do we have the political clout to do that, though?

>>> Jim Weiers:
We have John McCain. You know, you have Jon Kyl. I think two extremely respected and powerful people within the Senate. But, you know how do you compete against the wishes and the wants of states that don't have this problem or at least perceived to have this problem.

>>> Michael Grant:
Senator Bennett let me cycle back to the Proposition 200 issue. There has been some discussion that some in the legislature would like to take Proposition 200 further to expand it to more public benefits given the fact that it fairly widely passed in November. Do you see that as the sentiment of the Senate or not?

>>> Ken Bennett:
Well, I think there will be some in both chambers that given its passage would like to apply the principles therein to other state or federal programs. But I think the courts are going to probably make the decision as to whether Prop 200 itself can be expanded or should be kept in the narrow confines of how it was written.

>>> Jim Weiers :
It's being referred to the 9th circuit right now.

>>> Ken Bennett:
And that process of the courts will work its way through. I think you'll probably see some attempts by some to pass or offer new legislation to apply the same principles in other areas.

>>> Michael Grant:
We've talked about some of the governor's priorities, and in fairness. We have only a couple minutes left, but at least I wanted to give both of you a chance to talk about -- we've talked about some of them, eliminating the structural deficit but what's high on the Senate's agenda going into the session?

>>> Ken Bennett:
Well, you've hit on our top priority, and I think it would be the same for the house. And that is to eliminate the structural deficit and continue to make sure that the dollars we are spending in our highest priority areas, which are education, healthcare and public safety. That those dollars are being spent efficiently and effectively and that the taxpayers are getting their return on those investments. We've not been stingy or unwilling to invest in critical infrastructure and programs that matter for Arizonans. But we simply demand that we call a deficit a deficit and that if we're going to say we want to get out of the deficit. Let's get out of it without borrowing and tricks and gimmicks and transfers and relying on other people's money and that's going to be our top priority this year.

>>> Michael Grant:
Speaker Weiers, what's going to be disappointing for the house if it's not passed in the next 100 to 150 days?

>>> Jim Weiers:
I agree with Ken, my priority has always been the honesty in the way the budget process has worked and I would be extremely upset in my own mind. And I think that we would be disingenuous to the people we serve if we didn't put out a balanced budget. We have the opportunity to do it. But to do that you're going to have people upset because you can't be everything to everybody. And even in the governor's speech, if you come back and look at fiscal accountability and being able to do the things that she said. She's adding more and more debt and more programs as to the very fact of coming back in and having the ability to have the discipline. I didn't see the discipline when, in fact, in one sentence you say disciplined and in the other you say discipline, plus, plus, plus, plus. It doesn't work that way.

>>> Michael Grant:
Sounds like a fairly standard state of the state address to me. House speaker Jim Weiers, I appreciate you joining us. Best of luck in the assignment. Senate president, Ken Bennett, good to see you again. Flood warnings throughout the state have prompted the state office of emergency management to staff its command center in Phoenix on a 24-hour basis. This was the scene at Oak Creek Canyon a couple weeks ago when small stream swelled to several times its normal size. Flooding nearby homes and forcing the evacuation of hundreds of people. The Yavapai County Sheriff's Department doesn't expect the storm to cause flooding along Oak Creek this time, but has warned residents along the Verde to be prepared to evacuate. Joining me is Judy Kioski, public information officer for the Arizona division of emergency management. Judy, I guess the good news is that the storm has not dropped as far south as we expected it to drop.

>>> Judy Kioski:
Definitely. We are still concerned about the northern part of the state. We have four counties that are definitely -- we have concerns about them. But it hasn't swooped down into the Maricopa County like we thought it might.

>>> Michael Grant:
It seems like maybe the storm spent more of it fury, I'm sorry for California, but spent more of its fury west than here east.

>>> Judy Kioski:
Exactly. You know, we really went by the weather models last week and prepared for the worst but hoped for the best. And you're right, it seem it has dumped more in California than we anticipated. But we're still prepared. We're going to be manning our emergency operations center overnight tonight in preparations for this storm.

>>> Michael Grant:
You guys kind of have been going around the clock for the last couple, three weeks here ever since the storm that hit right after Christmas.

>>> Judy Kioski:
Exactly. Starting December 29th is when that storm first hit. Ever since then we have a duty team that's on call all the time but basically we've been staffing it every day. Had a couple overnights. The main thing is we want to be prepared to respond to any of the needs of the citizens.

>>> Michael Grant:
And what precisely does the office do?

>>> Judy Kioski:
The division of emergency management is really the state's leader to respond to any emergency event throughout the state. So really what that means is we coordinate state resources. If a county calls and says we need sandbags, we're going to provide those for them. If there is a town that needs a generator, if there's -- if they need emergency debris removal, we're going to make sure those things are taken care of --

>>> Michael Grant:
Some re-dispatch, perhaps, of emergency equipment?

>>> Judy Kioski:
Exactly. Whatever it is. Really, to make sure that the citizens, that they're protected, and as best we can protect their property as well.

>>> Michael Grant: Let's go area by area in the north. Speaking of sandbags, I understand appear a lot of sandbags were dispatched north and west to Mohave County?

>>> Judy Kioski:
Exactly. We actually -- the bulk of the sandbags have gone to Coconino County and we have deployed over 90,000 sandbags throughout the state. Our big concern today is Mohave County. They're experiencing come flooding in the town called Littlefield, which is in the northwestern part of the state. And we are making sure that the citizens there are taken care of, that they have a place to stay if they've been displaced and just coordinating with the county as well anything that they need.

>>> Michael Grant:
All right. Moving to the -- the main concern, of course, was the Verde Valley, Verde River, oak creek, Sedona area, particularly given what had happened a couple of weeks ago. It does not look like the situation there is as bad as it was expected to be.

>>> Judy Kioski:
Exactly. We expect it's not going to crest as high as it did almost two weeks ago. But one thing I do want to mention is it could be a microburst could that certainly cause some extensive damage and create a lot of flooding downstream. So it's still an area of concern but we're breathing a little bit of a sigh of relief.

>>> Michael Grant:
All right, now moving to the final third area, Gila county, Punkin center still having some problems?

>>> Judy Kioski:
There are people that are still isolated on the other side. They're still receiving emergency food boxes and prescriptions. So their immediate needs are being taken care of. We are concerned about areas where the Willow fire occurred over the last summer because weather models show that they could receive some rain, and it doesn't take much in an area that was burned, to really be affected by the rain.

>>> Michael Grant:
Judy, you have a list of precautions people should take when flooding occurs. Walk through those.

>>> Judy Kioski:
Sure. The first thing is that we want them to stay tuned to the -- their local TV or radio. It's so important. They're going to get the most accurate information, the stuff that comes quick off the weather service. If they are at home we want them to know where to turn off their water, their electric, those kinds of things. And if -- and it's important that they have an emergency plan, that they have talked with the other members in their family and come one a plan, what are we going to do, where are we going to meet. Do we have all the important numbers so we can meet up?

>>> Michael Grant:
If I'm not here and you're not here, here's a location where we are both going to try to get to and those kind of things.

>>> Judy Kioski:
Exactly. It sounds really simple, and it's just a simple conversation you can have with your family that's going to give you peace of mind at an important time.

>>> Michael Grant:
Bottom line driving tip being don't drive into water, please?

>>> Judy Kioski:
Yes, I think the national weather service has the best motto, that is, "Turn around, don't drown." The washes come up so quickly, and you -- even if there's not a sign, that doesn't mean that you should drive through there. You need to use that common sense. And please be careful and just turn around. Don't drown.

>>> Michael Grant:
Okay. Judy Kioski, thank you very much for the information. We'll keep our fingers crossed that nothing too heavy comes down.

>>> Judy Kioski:
Thank you.

>>> Michael Grant:
You can find out more information on emergency preparedness by visiting our website at www.azpbs.org. If you click on "HORIZON" and look for today's date, you'll find a link to the Arizona division of emergency management website.

>>> Merry Lucero:
Democratic leaders from the state house and Senate talk about the governor's state of the state address as well as their agenda for the 2005 legislative session. Plus the governor spoke about revitalizing the department of water resources, the director of that state agency joins us to talk about how. Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. on "HORIZON."

>>> Michael Grant:
Thursday did the dream of Martin Luther King ever become reality in our state? We'll take a look at that question and Friday a panel of capital reporters will be joining me to talk about the week's top stories Friday on "HORIZON" certain to be top on the list the governor's state of the state address and the reaction thereto. Thank you very much for joining us on this Tuesday evening. I'm Michael Grant Grant. Have a great one. Goodnight.

storms/flooding


  • Could we see more flooding in Oak Creek canyon and other parts of the state? We'll talk to the office of emergency management about the latest storm and the precautions people should take.
Guests:
  • Ken Bennett (R) - State Senate President
  • Jim Weiers (R) - State House Speaker


View Transcript
>>> Janet Napolitano:
The people of this state work hard. They're building businesses. They're saving and struggling to educate their children. They are doing their part. They want us to do our part. We here in this chamber do not have the luxury of partisanship or defeatism. The choice we face is not between Republican or Democrat but between those who say, no, not ever and those who say, yes, we can.

>>> Michael Grant:
Governor Janet Napolitano setting the stage for the legislative session by stressing issues normally championed by the GOP. How did the state of the state address go over with Republican legislative lead centers we'll talk to the Senate president and house speaker about the speech and their own agenda for the legislative session. Could we see more flooding in Oak Creek canyon and other parts of the state? We'll talk to the office of emergency management about the latest storm and the precautions people should take.

>>> Michael Grant:
Good evening. I'm Michael Grant Grant. Welcome to "HORIZON." Governor Napolitano faces a more conservative legislature and her speech to lawmakers yesterday obviously took that into account. Fiscal responsibility, tax cuts, the effects of illegal immigration just some of the topics addressed. Governor Napolitano did ask for more funding for all-day kindergarten and state-subsidized childcare. How did the 35-minute speech go over with those in charge of the two legislative chambers? Joining me is Senate president Ken Bennett and house speaker Jim Weiers.

>>> Michael Grant:
How are you?

>>> Ken Bennett:
I'm okay. Little cold but...

>>> Jim Weiers:
I hope you're dry.

>>> Michael Grant:
Well, Senator, what did you think -- give me an overall reaction to the speech. I notice --

>>>Ken Bennett:
I thought we might have to check her voter registration file to see if she had come all the way over. I thought the general tone and the theme that she tried to set of, yes, we can, was a positive one and is something we can work with and build on, hopefully, over the next couple of years.

>>> Michael Grant:
Speaker Weiers was she looking at the pry mayor and general election results as well as looking ahead to working with a slightly differently constituted legislature in formulating that speech?

>>> Jim Weiers:
Our governor is a very intelligent governor and I think she takes everything into consideration. Not the least being the face of the legislature has changed somewhat, in fact changed a lot in the last couple months, and this is something that I'm sure had that a lot of effect as far as the direction on some of the thing she said yesterday.

>>> Michael Grant:
Okay. We want to get some of your reaction to specific issues in the speech as well as talk about some of the legislature's priorities. Let's first run the clip for you on Governor Napolitano talking about fiscal responsibility.

>>> Janet Napolitano:
We balanced our budget and eliminated our deficit without cutting education or gutting vital services. We did it without raising taxes. And we did it while making the most profound investment we can make in the education of our children. This is the discipline I intend to continue.

>>> Michael Grant:
Not much to disagree with there, senator Bennett.

>>> Ken Bennett:
Well, saying you balanced the budget and eliminated the structural deficit is one thing but to have really done it with our own resources is a different matter. The only way we were able to balance the budget last year was that we had about $350 million of one-time assistance that came in from the federal government, primarily in some healthcare areas. We are not going to receive that $350 million again next year. We also did probably about $75 million of fund transfers from a variety of funds around the state back into the general fund. And then we borrowed again about $250 million for new school construction that we are doing every year, and we were paying cash as we go just a come years ago. So there's almost $500 million just right there that we are not going to be able to borrow or rely on federal dollars, and so I think it was a bit overanxious to say that we have balanced the budget and eliminated the structural deficit. We hope to finish that job this year, but --

>>> Michael Grant:
Mr. Weiers, by legislative reckoning there is a structural defendant sit of approximately $750 million, have I got the number somewhere in the ballpark?

>>> Jim Weiers:
Depends on who you're talking about. It's lies figure and figures lie. We have a governor that says we have a balanced budget. We don't believe that. Structural deficit, real deficit gets confusing when you get into the conversation. I think Ken hit on the high points through gifts, borrowing, and transfers this is how we're able to come out with -- it was ant balanced budget per se because the structural deficits still occurred. But you're taking gimmicks and using accounting tricks to give the impression that it's a balance and it's not. This year we hope to come honest and to do it the right way and with the governor saying we balanced the budget and we had, I think she said, fiscal -- I can't remember the word she used -- Responsibility. Responsibility. I don't think it was there.

>>> Michael Grant:
All right. All-day kindergarten is a major centerpiece of the governor's agenda and here is what she had to say about that.

>>> Janet Napolitano:
So one of our most vital missions must be to extend all-day kindergarten so it is available to every child in every school in every community. All-day kindergarten is voluntary. Making it one of the largest school choice programs in state history. And today the parents of nearly 10,000 children in the toughest schools have the choice of all-day kindergarten. I propose to make it available for the parents of 10,000 more children this year.

>>> Michael Grant:
Mr. Weiers, obviously a substantial portion of the legislature came rather reluctantly to all-day kindergarten. The feel that I get now is that having started down the road the legislature is not inclined to go back the other way. Am I misreading what's happening at the legislature at this point on this issue?

>>> Jim Weiers:
You know, we don't know. We have lots of new people coming in, and even what happened the last session, lot of confusion as to why the things were done, and was it really truly something that we could do instead of going the full way and all-day kindergarten. The fact is that we have -- I've asked the governor if in fact this is something she truly has prioritized, show us where the funds come. We're already short. We're in a deficit. Help us find and locate the funds and show us the age program she wants to do and let's start with the conversation with show me the money, show me the program.

>>> Michael Grant:
What is the Senate showing? The feedback I'm getting might tinker with the thing with you a 180 degrees on all-day K is not on the list.

>>> Ken Bennett:
I agree with that. I don't see going back on what was done last year. I think it's a misnomer and many people need to understand that about half of kindergartners in Arizona already had all-day K when we did the all-day K last year. All we did was change the funding source for the schools that are the 10\% most poor.

>>> Michael Grant:
At one point you had a plan that was targeted more to the remaining 50\%?

>>> Ken Bennett:
Right. And so I don't see us going back, but the first couple years of a phase-in program are the easy part. It's the fourth and fifth year when you start to pick up huge chunks of the whole system that. You know, $25 million a year will probably get some debate as to whether we can do that to expand another little bit next year. But the fourth and fifth year is where you balloon to about a $200 million a year commitment, and we're just not there, able to do that.

>>> Michael Grant:
Incidentally, does the 10,000 school children number that she mentioned match the $25 million number that you just mentioned?

>>> Ken Bennett:
I think that's a fair number as to what you can do with 25 million, which is what we did last year, we did 25 million. But half of the state's kindergartners were already in all-day K. We just changed one of the funding sources.

>>> Jim Weiers:
But at that point that's not, again, 10,000 new all-day kindergarten. It's nothing more than supplanting what already existed and that's where the debate needs to start. My particular district ran a bond issue specifically for all-day kindergarten. And then to come back in and say that the people voted to do this and you do it, what about the other ones that have decided not to and yet the state is going to come back and pay them and should we at this point get the money received back for what we've already decided to put in our taxes up and above what we're already paying because it's a priority? It becomes kind of convoluted to the whole issue, should this be a local choice.

>>> Michael Grant:
The legal concern being whether or not under the decisions of the Supreme Court whether you agree or disagree, but they are decisions of the Supreme Court about having a uniform state weighed education system, and so can you do this on a local control basis?

>>> Jim Weiers:
Well --

>>> Michael Grant:
Maybe we'll leave that to the Supreme Court.

>>> Jim Weiers:
We'll leave it to the Supreme Court.

>>> Michael Grant:
Governor Napolitano mentioning something you wouldn't have heard in prior sessions when the state faced some big revenue short falls, tax cuts.

>>> Janet Napolitano:
There are some tax cuts we can now afford and should pass. We should expand the research and development tax credit for businesses that partner with our state universities. We should phase out the personal property tax for small business. And we should give tax relief to industries that manufacture goods in Arizona and export them all over the nation and all over the world. Let's export our goods, not our jobs.

>>> Michael Grant:
Senator, three proposals there that had been on the plate for a long time.

>>> Ken Bennett:
Right.

>>> Michael Grant:
Obviously supported fairly widely by both chambers with the governor proposing them. All three going to pass?

>>> Ken Bennett:
Well, I don't think you can probably do all three, and there are other options on the table in the house and the Senate. Most of the business community has informed us already that their highest priority is bringing down the 25\% assessment ratio that business property pays property tax on in this state --

>>> Michael Grant:
That's a stated legislative priority, is it not?

>>> Ken Bennett:
Well, yes -- that's one of the things in our tax code that makes businesses who look at Arizona -- that's one of the less attractive features of anybody contemplating bringing their business here. So we will look at all those things. It was ironic for the last year or two the governor and many of the Democrats in both chambers have been saying it was the tax cuts of the '90s that left us short of money now, and yet now she's embracing some tax cuts. So --

>>> Michael Grant:
Mr. Weiers how does the house see that? I mean, obviously the business personal property tax has also been seen as a negative in terms of --

>>> Jim Weiers:
They're all negatives. The governor's right on the mark, if in fact you want better paying jobs you need to bring the businesses in that are going to be able to afford those kind of wages and you can't do it when Arizona doesn't give those companies a reason to come here. You're not going to make on it fast food. You have to have companies that are saying we're willing to make the investment but you have to understand we're competing in a global market anymore. And so the bottom line to us is our bottom line, and the more that we work against businesses. And I've heard people say the reason businesses should pay more is because they can afford to do it, and I know that sound silly, but that's something I hear time and time again. They can't afford. The vast majority of businesses in Arizona are small businesses and they make it or break on it a month basis depending on that P&L and that balance sheet. It's hard times. There are sacrifices that are going to be made. If government is truly interested in helping, the best thing we can do is get off their backs, get out of their business and take away the tax burdens we place on their backs. And I think the governor has alluded to that.

>>> Michael Grant:
But if you have a legislative priority to eliminate the structural deficit, I mean, show me the money.

>>> Ken Bennett:
Well, any tax cut or any new spending proposal or any expansion of an existing program is going to have to be factored in to the available resources. And utmost in our mind is eliminating the structural deficit and putting the state on sound financial footing for the next decade and we're only going to do that by really balancing the budget. Not playing some of the tricks and one-time gimmicks that have made it look like it's been balanced the last year or two.

>>> Michael Grant:
Final clip from the governor's speech yesterday. Governor Napolitano raising some eyebrows when she blamed Congress for failing to do it's job controlling illegal immigration.

>>> Janet Napolitano:
Arizona has more people illegally crossing our southern border than the other three Border States combined. It is time for the national government to step in, devote the resources, and do its job of protecting the border. It is time for real immigration reform. And while we work well with our neighbors in Mexico on so many issues, it is time for the Mexican government to do its part to control illegal immigration.

>>> Michael Grant:
Mr. Weiers, obviously most people I don't think would disagree with the statements there. I guess what I found maybe more surprising than the shot at the federal government was the shot at the government of Mexico.

>>> Jim Weiers:
Sure. Especially as she was extremely and I say she the governor, extremely vocal when it came to opposition of prop 200. Prop 200 is not solving anything. I think it was just -- everybody's to the point of frustration. We see the tremendous amount it's costing. You have some counties in Southern Arizona that because of illegal immigration it's just eating up every available dime they have within their budget. They don't have any money to do anything. We're talking everything from healthcare, back into public safety, we're talking the schools. And a lot of the issues we're talking about right now even with schools, even all-day kindergarten. Directly will come back and you see connections within the immigration problem all the way with the ESL. The Flores lawsuit that currently we're trying to get through, the cost of what it's costing Arizona citizens at this point to get into, what is the cost to educate a child.

>>> Michael Grant:
It's a nice sentiment but one we've been dealing with for a long time, not just in the past five years or so. Do you see any major breakthrough on that front vis-a-vis the federal government any time soon?

>>> Jim Weiers:
If there's enough pressure I guess anything could change but, no, when you have --

>>> Michael Grant:
Do we have the political clout to do that, though?

>>> Jim Weiers:
We have John McCain. You know, you have Jon Kyl. I think two extremely respected and powerful people within the Senate. But, you know how do you compete against the wishes and the wants of states that don't have this problem or at least perceived to have this problem.

>>> Michael Grant:
Senator Bennett let me cycle back to the Proposition 200 issue. There has been some discussion that some in the legislature would like to take Proposition 200 further to expand it to more public benefits given the fact that it fairly widely passed in November. Do you see that as the sentiment of the Senate or not?

>>> Ken Bennett:
Well, I think there will be some in both chambers that given its passage would like to apply the principles therein to other state or federal programs. But I think the courts are going to probably make the decision as to whether Prop 200 itself can be expanded or should be kept in the narrow confines of how it was written.

>>> Jim Weiers :
It's being referred to the 9th circuit right now.

>>> Ken Bennett:
And that process of the courts will work its way through. I think you'll probably see some attempts by some to pass or offer new legislation to apply the same principles in other areas.

>>> Michael Grant:
We've talked about some of the governor's priorities, and in fairness. We have only a couple minutes left, but at least I wanted to give both of you a chance to talk about -- we've talked about some of them, eliminating the structural deficit but what's high on the Senate's agenda going into the session?

>>> Ken Bennett:
Well, you've hit on our top priority, and I think it would be the same for the house. And that is to eliminate the structural deficit and continue to make sure that the dollars we are spending in our highest priority areas, which are education, healthcare and public safety. That those dollars are being spent efficiently and effectively and that the taxpayers are getting their return on those investments. We've not been stingy or unwilling to invest in critical infrastructure and programs that matter for Arizonans. But we simply demand that we call a deficit a deficit and that if we're going to say we want to get out of the deficit. Let's get out of it without borrowing and tricks and gimmicks and transfers and relying on other people's money and that's going to be our top priority this year.

>>> Michael Grant:
Speaker Weiers, what's going to be disappointing for the house if it's not passed in the next 100 to 150 days?

>>> Jim Weiers:
I agree with Ken, my priority has always been the honesty in the way the budget process has worked and I would be extremely upset in my own mind. And I think that we would be disingenuous to the people we serve if we didn't put out a balanced budget. We have the opportunity to do it. But to do that you're going to have people upset because you can't be everything to everybody. And even in the governor's speech, if you come back and look at fiscal accountability and being able to do the things that she said. She's adding more and more debt and more programs as to the very fact of coming back in and having the ability to have the discipline. I didn't see the discipline when, in fact, in one sentence you say disciplined and in the other you say discipline, plus, plus, plus, plus. It doesn't work that way.

>>> Michael Grant:
Sounds like a fairly standard state of the state address to me. House speaker Jim Weiers, I appreciate you joining us. Best of luck in the assignment. Senate president, Ken Bennett, good to see you again. Flood warnings throughout the state have prompted the state office of emergency management to staff its command center in Phoenix on a 24-hour basis. This was the scene at Oak Creek Canyon a couple weeks ago when small stream swelled to several times its normal size. Flooding nearby homes and forcing the evacuation of hundreds of people. The Yavapai County Sheriff's Department doesn't expect the storm to cause flooding along Oak Creek this time, but has warned residents along the Verde to be prepared to evacuate. Joining me is Judy Kioski, public information officer for the Arizona division of emergency management. Judy, I guess the good news is that the storm has not dropped as far south as we expected it to drop.

>>> Judy Kioski:
Definitely. We are still concerned about the northern part of the state. We have four counties that are definitely -- we have concerns about them. But it hasn't swooped down into the Maricopa County like we thought it might.

>>> Michael Grant:
It seems like maybe the storm spent more of it fury, I'm sorry for California, but spent more of its fury west than here east.

>>> Judy Kioski:
Exactly. You know, we really went by the weather models last week and prepared for the worst but hoped for the best. And you're right, it seem it has dumped more in California than we anticipated. But we're still prepared. We're going to be manning our emergency operations center overnight tonight in preparations for this storm.

>>> Michael Grant:
You guys kind of have been going around the clock for the last couple, three weeks here ever since the storm that hit right after Christmas.

>>> Judy Kioski:
Exactly. Starting December 29th is when that storm first hit. Ever since then we have a duty team that's on call all the time but basically we've been staffing it every day. Had a couple overnights. The main thing is we want to be prepared to respond to any of the needs of the citizens.

>>> Michael Grant:
And what precisely does the office do?

>>> Judy Kioski:
The division of emergency management is really the state's leader to respond to any emergency event throughout the state. So really what that means is we coordinate state resources. If a county calls and says we need sandbags, we're going to provide those for them. If there is a town that needs a generator, if there's -- if they need emergency debris removal, we're going to make sure those things are taken care of --

>>> Michael Grant:
Some re-dispatch, perhaps, of emergency equipment?

>>> Judy Kioski:
Exactly. Whatever it is. Really, to make sure that the citizens, that they're protected, and as best we can protect their property as well.

>>> Michael Grant: Let's go area by area in the north. Speaking of sandbags, I understand appear a lot of sandbags were dispatched north and west to Mohave County?

>>> Judy Kioski:
Exactly. We actually -- the bulk of the sandbags have gone to Coconino County and we have deployed over 90,000 sandbags throughout the state. Our big concern today is Mohave County. They're experiencing come flooding in the town called Littlefield, which is in the northwestern part of the state. And we are making sure that the citizens there are taken care of, that they have a place to stay if they've been displaced and just coordinating with the county as well anything that they need.

>>> Michael Grant:
All right. Moving to the -- the main concern, of course, was the Verde Valley, Verde River, oak creek, Sedona area, particularly given what had happened a couple of weeks ago. It does not look like the situation there is as bad as it was expected to be.

>>> Judy Kioski:
Exactly. We expect it's not going to crest as high as it did almost two weeks ago. But one thing I do want to mention is it could be a microburst could that certainly cause some extensive damage and create a lot of flooding downstream. So it's still an area of concern but we're breathing a little bit of a sigh of relief.

>>> Michael Grant:
All right, now moving to the final third area, Gila county, Punkin center still having some problems?

>>> Judy Kioski:
There are people that are still isolated on the other side. They're still receiving emergency food boxes and prescriptions. So their immediate needs are being taken care of. We are concerned about areas where the Willow fire occurred over the last summer because weather models show that they could receive some rain, and it doesn't take much in an area that was burned, to really be affected by the rain.

>>> Michael Grant:
Judy, you have a list of precautions people should take when flooding occurs. Walk through those.

>>> Judy Kioski:
Sure. The first thing is that we want them to stay tuned to the -- their local TV or radio. It's so important. They're going to get the most accurate information, the stuff that comes quick off the weather service. If they are at home we want them to know where to turn off their water, their electric, those kinds of things. And if -- and it's important that they have an emergency plan, that they have talked with the other members in their family and come one a plan, what are we going to do, where are we going to meet. Do we have all the important numbers so we can meet up?

>>> Michael Grant:
If I'm not here and you're not here, here's a location where we are both going to try to get to and those kind of things.

>>> Judy Kioski:
Exactly. It sounds really simple, and it's just a simple conversation you can have with your family that's going to give you peace of mind at an important time.

>>> Michael Grant:
Bottom line driving tip being don't drive into water, please?

>>> Judy Kioski:
Yes, I think the national weather service has the best motto, that is, "Turn around, don't drown." The washes come up so quickly, and you -- even if there's not a sign, that doesn't mean that you should drive through there. You need to use that common sense. And please be careful and just turn around. Don't drown.

>>> Michael Grant:
Okay. Judy Kioski, thank you very much for the information. We'll keep our fingers crossed that nothing too heavy comes down.

>>> Judy Kioski:
Thank you.

>>> Michael Grant:
You can find out more information on emergency preparedness by visiting our website at www.azpbs.org. If you click on "HORIZON" and look for today's date, you'll find a link to the Arizona division of emergency management website.

>>> Merry Lucero:
Democratic leaders from the state house and Senate talk about the governor's state of the state address as well as their agenda for the 2005 legislative session. Plus the governor spoke about revitalizing the department of water resources, the director of that state agency joins us to talk about how. Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. on "HORIZON."

>>> Michael Grant:
Thursday did the dream of Martin Luther King ever become reality in our state? We'll take a look at that question and Friday a panel of capital reporters will be joining me to talk about the week's top stories Friday on "HORIZON" certain to be top on the list the governor's state of the state address and the reaction thereto. Thank you very much for joining us on this Tuesday evening. I'm Michael Grant Grant. Have a great one. Goodnight.

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