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April 16, 2013

Host: Ted Simons

Campaign Contribution Limits

  |   Video
  • Campaign contribution limits were increased tenfold in a bill just signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer. Sam Wercinski, executive director of the Arizona Advocacy Network, and Stan Barnes, of Copper State Consulting, will discuss the impacts of the increase in donations that can be given to candidates.
  • Sam Wercinski - Executive Director, Arizona Advocacy Network
  • Stan Barnes - Copper State Consulting
Category: Business/Economy   |   Keywords: campaign, contribution, elections, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome To "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Last week, the governor signed into law a bill that increases campaign contribution limits To Arizona political races. Joining us to speak against The new law is Sam Wercinski, executive director of the Arizona advocacy network. And here in support of higher campaign contribution limits Is Stan Barnes, president of copper state consulting. Good to have you both here. Thank you for joining us. Let's start with you, Stan.

Stan Barnes: Okay.

Ted Simons: This is a law now. Why is it a good thing?

Stan Barnes: It is a good thing because the present system is horribly flawed and this is a step in the right direction. It is allowing for reality. Reality is people have a first amendment right to support candidates and the artificial limits on those -- on that support forces money off to the side where it is less transparent, and is less controlled by the candidate whose very message is dependent on his election. And so, it is -- I count it good on a number of levels. I only wish they had gone farther with it.

Ted Simons: Why is this not a good idea?

Sam Wercinski: Well, the bill is focused on money, but it really is an attack on Arizona working voters, Ted. And it is not just this bill. There is a whole slew of them that are passing through this legislature this year. What this bill does is it shifts the focus, even more so, to big money special interest groups where -- when the focus should be on our voters. And that's really what the 1998 clean elections act was all about. It was getting a handle on all of the money being spent in the political game and having candidates look at who's actually going to be representing the voters and start engaging on them more rather than focusing on donors.

Ted Simons: How does this change that in a negative way?

Sam Wercinski: Well, when candidates need to compete using money, they're going to be going after large sums. The large donors. And we see that already with the special interest groups. So, the more money a particular special interest group can give, the more influence they're going to have at the capitol. The more representation quite honestly they are going to have at the capitol at the expense of working voters.

Ted Simons: The idea that regular Joes and Janes cannot get this kind of influence, how do you respond?

Stan Barnes: State legislator 25 years ago, feels like a long time ago, and I know from firsthand experience that is not true. When what we call a real person shows up at state capitol and says I have a problem, Arizona still is a small enough state and the people that serve down there are still not professional politicians, but laymen who have self-selected to be in the legislature and put up with what you have got to put up with to be down there. A person shows up there and wants their legislative attention, they've got it. I'm telling you, that is a fact. When it comes to campaigns, if a candidate cannot raise money, then money will be raised around him and spent on him. John McComish, senator, is a great example. He was constrained by artificial limits very, very low, and so money against him and for him went out into the darkness where it was not reported but it was hundreds of thousands of dollars bombarding him. He couldn't control his message. It was a bad situation and this will help remedy that.

Ted Simons: Senator did mention, I think his quote was, puts candidates themselves in charge.

Sam Wercinski: Well, I think candidates have been in charge. Senator McComish was reelected. So, what Stan is saying is that he was reelected based on independent expenditures and show corporations messaging that he really was not reelected because of his message. That is the point I take from there. But to Stan's first point about an ordinary citizen going down to the capitol and being able to speak to their legislator and really having their voices heard, there were a handful of individuals and groups that signed in favor of this bill. There were hundreds of Arizona citizens emailing, calling, going down to the capitol, including myself, speaking with our senators and our lawmakers, and this bill still passed. Four or five in favor of it on the record, versus hundreds and hundreds of working Arizonans against it. Voters voices are not being heard. Big money is drowning it out.

Ted Simons: Respond, please.

Stan Barnes: Yeah, and just not a fact. The average legislator is a person of well-meaning, good nature who wants to hear from their constituency groups. If a special group, Sam's group, any other group comes down there with their own political agenda and they're not heard, that is the nature of politics. But this idea of money in electoral politics, it is already there. This bill ought to bring that money into the light so that it will be reported, you will know who gave where and the candidate who is dared to get into the arena, actually can control his own message instead of it being done to him.

Ted Simons: Was this an effort to undermine clean elections?

Stan Barnes: I don't -- no, the short answer is no. My hesitation is that there is a lot of reason to undermine clean elections in my own humble opinion. It doesn't make Sam happy. Clean elections, I don't think, is a good model for the state of Arizona even though it is the law.

Ted Simons: If it does undermine clean elections, does it not violate -- clean elections was voter approved. Shouldn't there have been a three-quarter approval there --

Stan Barnes: I don't know whether there should have been or not. I do know it will likely be litigated and we will find out whether it is or is not --

Ted Simons: Is your argument not so much that money is a bad thing but money from certain directions -- we're talking about money, is money necessarily a bad thing in political campaigns?

Sam Wercinski: An individual's worth is often measured by their wealth in our society. That's a fact. Money is essential in order for individuals and groups to get their message out to our large population. A big problem with this bill was how it came about. The use of veterans bill as a Trojan horse to quietly get it into committee. The longer you can keep stuff out of public eye, the better off you are moving it forward. So, the other aspect of this bill is it wasn't comprehensive in nature. There is another bill, house bill 2575 that had bipartisan support, privately funded, clean election candidate funded, veterans, freshman legislators signed on to this particular bill for a comprehensive approach for campaign finance changes. It never got a hearing. Instead, county attorney for Maricopa county came in with this particular bill, got a sponsor to do a strike all and moved it forward.

Ted Simons: The idea of -- once again, I want to get back to clean elections. If we're talking about increasing limits, increasing caps, does this bill increase the spending, the caps, the limits on clean election --

Stan Barnes: No, it does not.

Ted Simons: Why not?

Stan Barnes: It does not. I think that would be another debate and whole other issue and perhaps that is the litigation point. Clean elections model is antiquated -- it was a good attempt to bring anti-matter into matter and they just can't be together. Candidate's ability to raise money is an indication of the candidate's creditability, and I'm not talking about self-funding the campaign. If you can't ask people for donations and they don't have the faith in you to give that money, then there is something wrong in that. If you can't do that. If you can do that, from the left side of the spectrum or the right, then you've got something to offer. You're proving that you are somebody worth having trust in. The clean elections thing throws that all to the side and hands taxpayer money to anybody who has a whim.

Sam Wercinski: Clean elections we want to continue to work on it, strengthen it and I'm hoping before this legislature ends, that we see house bill 2575 revived and parts of it pulled out as a voter voucher program that allows the voter to vet these candidates, not big money.

Ted Simons: We have to stop you right there. Good discussion and good to have you both here. Thank you for joining us.

Sam Wercinski: Stan Barnes: Thank you.

CPS Funding

  |   Video
  • Governor Jan Brewer has proposed nearly $78 Million in new funding for Child Protective Services. Dana Naimark, President and Chief Executive Officer of Children’s Action Alliance, will discuss the CPS funding proposal.
  • Dana Naimark - President and Chief Executive Officer of Children’s Action Alliance
Category: Community   |   Keywords: Child Protective Services, Children’s Action Alliance,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: The governor is proposing nearly $78 million in new funding for child protective services. But that just begins to address the needs of Arizona children. That's according to our next guest, Dana Naimark, president and CEO of children's action alliance. Good to see you again.

Dana Naimark: Thank you.

Ted Simons: Thank you for joining us. Improving CPS, increasing staff, not enough?

Dana Naimark: Well, the governor's budget proposal is the bare minimum we need for basic child safety. And really what it does is keep up with the growth in demand. We have had a 33% increase in the number of reports of abuse and neglect. 34% increase in the number of kids in foster care. We simply can't keep up with that without more resources.

Ted Simons: What do you want to see from the governor, the legislature? It sounds like timely investigations are needed. Aren't these things improving? Obviously they're not improving fast enough for most folks but they are improving, are they not?

Dana Naimark: A lot is not improving even though CPS is making changes in their systems, becoming more efficient and doing some things better. More and more kids are coming into the system, they can't keep up. We're not seeing the actual outcomes for kids improve until we get more resources in there to compliment the changes in the system.

Ted Simons: Before we get to resources, what about caseloads, is that not getting better?

Dana Naimark: Caseloads are double what they should be. It is overwhelming.

Ted Simons: You are saying this money helps but not much?

Dana Naimark: This will keep us on the treadmill. We need this money as a bare minimum and we need to keep improving the systems and work on prevention. We have to help families become stronger so that they do not need CPS.

Ted Simons: Let’s talk about resources and services. Parent support services --

Dana Naimark: The Governor's proposal a $10 million increase which is desperately needed. Things like substance abuse treatment so parents can reunify safely with their kids and they can become better and more responsible parents. Other kinds of counseling and coaching so families can stay together safely --

Ted Simons: $10.4 million For families and kids in foster care or headed for foster care?

Dana Naimark: It is both. Primarily for families where the kids are in foster care and we want to work to reunify the kids with their parents as much as we can.

Ted Simons: $9.6 million to meet the growth of caseloads, you are saying that is nowhere near enough --

Dana Naimark: Right. Money in there for child care, and if we don't get that funding, we will be kicking kids out of the child care that they're in right now.

Ted Simons: And the 200 more CPS caseworkers, which was the headline grabbing aspect of all of this, encouraging slightly.

Dana Naimark: Well, it is. State legislature this session, at the very beginning, unanimously came together in a bipartisan way and approved new staff with supplemental funding for this year. That was a great start to the session and a great indication of how important child safety is. But that's not enough. We need the other 150 staff just to keep up with the influx. Right now we have too many -- we have thousands ,10,000’s of cases that come in that are not investigated in a timely way because the staff is overwhelmed.

Ted Simons: $34.5 million for kids in shelters, group homes, centers and these sorts of things. And it seems to me like the goal it would seem is to keep these kids out of these places.

Dana Naimark: That is the goal. Right now when we don't have alternatives and not set up to provide services and safety, foster care is a necessity. It always will be a necessity for some kids. We definitely want to reduce the number in foster care and we know we can do that going forward. There is some legislation going through the legislature that will help us do that. Right now we need the money to keep up with the very basic services.

Ted Simons: So, the bottom line is that CPS additional funding for everything from caseworkers, group homes, foster homes, it's good but not enough?

Dana Naimark: Correct. We are asking the legislature to look at the governor's budget proposal as the bare minimum. $77 million proposal and it is all vitally needed. And so we're really working on making sure that every member of the legislature understands those needs, and then can look at it and also ask what else can we do to improve child protection?

Ted Simons: Do you think lawmakers don't understand those needs?

Dana Naimark: You know what, they're asking really good questions. I'm very encouraged about that. Very concerned about the growth in foster care. They're asking how do we prevent this? How do we turn it around? They're also asking how do we know that when we invest in child protective services that we are improving child safety? The dialogue is excellent. We want to make sure that that stays on the radar screen as they begin to negotiate the budget.

Ted Simons: That is a good point. Is there a sense of accountability that can be forwarded or encouraged or enhanced out there to satisfy some lawmakers' concerns?

Dana Naimark: Absolutely. With the supplemental funding required new reporting from the department of economic security. We are very much supportive of that and making sure there is accountability and we're all talking together about what are the benchmarks that we need to improve and how do we get there.

Ted Simons: One last question. I'm a lawmaker. Are you telling me more CPS funding is needed or more serviced surrounding CPS funding is needed?

Dana Naimark: We need the governor's budget for CPS as a bare minimum and how do we help to support families so that they do not need support in the first place. We are having the conversations to show lawmakers that they do not want to be in this position next year with the huge growth in foster care.

Ted Simons: Are you encouraged?

Dana Naimark: I am. Again, we want to make sure that the spotlight is on kids as they go into the negotiations.

Ted Simons: Thank you for joining us.

Dana Naimark: Thank you.

Focus on Sustainability: Solar Energy Poll

  |   Video
  • A new poll shows that Arizonans are committed to solar power. Spokesman Jason Rose and Solar Energy Industry Attorney Court Rich will discuss the poll and the role of solar power in Arizona.
  • Jason Rose - Spokesman, Solar Energy
  • Court Rich - Industry Attorney, Solar Energy
Category: Sustainability   |   Keywords: sustainability, poll, solar power, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Tonight's focus on sustain ability, a new poll that seems to show widespread support for solar power in Arizona and widespread opposition to elected officials that oppose solar development. Here to discuss -- Jason Rose and Court Rich. Let's talk about what this poll was designed to look at. What did you look at and what did you find?

Jason Rose: The reason we're sitting here is because APS is proposing a very hostile move to essentially end rooftop solar in Arizona. We're representing a group of rooftop solar companies, banks, consumers, new coalition, TUSK, tell utilities solar won't be killed led by Barry Goldwater, Jr. And what we found was absolutely not -- Manson getting out of prison may be more popular -- the corporation commission is now all republican, and frankly, solar has been seen as a democratic issue in the past. What we saw in the over sample of republicans why widespread support for solar programs in Arizona. And widespread opposition to the programs that APS is proposing.

Ted Simons: I want to crunch numbers in a second. To the point of what utilities are doing, we have talked about this quite a bit on the program. Encapsulate for us what you are seeing out there as far as residential and commercial solar development.

Court Rich: Sure, one thing that is apparent, utilities are comfortable and they like their Monopoly. They have come up with a strategy where they have tried to say we want to take away the ability of consumers to choose how they get their electricity. APS for one has been no competition for 100 years. If I'm a homeowner, to very recently, I could never do anything else except get my electricity from the government-regulated Monopoly. Now I have a choice. I can go out and put solar panels on my roof. I can invest that money. I can save money at the end of the day and exercise that choice. Arizonans like choice and personal freedom.

Define net metering and how that factors into all this.

Court Rich: Net metering is successful policy in 43 states. Net metering, we are forced to buy electricity from the utility at a certain price. The utility is forced to buy electricity from solar panels on residential or commercial rooftops at that same price. It makes a lot of sense. If they want to sell energy to you at a certain price they should buy it from you at that same price.

Ted Simons: We had commissioner pierce on and we were talking about this. I want you to listen to what he had to say. He was concerned about performance based subsidies. Let's listen.

SOT: It's time for that subsidy on the performance-based incentive to go away. That is a legacy cost. The legacy cost means those performance-based incentives. They are performance based. You get them once a year for years. We built up in APS's territory, $735 million of legacy costs which will go on. People will say there are no more incentives -- no, we have created through these rules which were created in 2006, we have created a monster of additional charges that will have to be paid over the next 20 years.

Ted Simons: Respond to that, please.

Court Rich: Sure. Here is what is great about the solar industry. It is different than about APS and other Monopolies. Solar industry is moving away from incentives. Getting off of incentives every day. Arizona, by the end of the year, likely will have no incentives left for rooftop solar. APS's subsidies, how are they able to benefit from subsidies. I think we need to look at that. That is a big difference.

Ted Simons: As far as the poll was concerned, what was asked? This can be awfully complicated. How did you present the question and what kind of responses did you get?

Jason Rose: Again, we wanted to have Republican pollster with impeccable republican credentials to do it so it couldn't be construed as a lefty or liberal pole. We did that. We released the poll. It’s on various website. You can get it. What we would say, Ted, if anyone takes exception to the way that we worded these questions, challenge APS. Go out and do your own survey on solar issues, and see what they have to say. What they will find specifically with Republicans is this. Is republicans are flocking to energy choice. Similar to the way they have with school choice and health care choice. And I think that is a very important dynamic that we saw in these numbers. And hopefully our republican commissioners will review that and appreciate that sentiment.

Ted Simons: I remember hosting a debate for the Arizona corporation commission and it seemed as though the concept of solar was, as you mentioned earlier, much more of a democratic issue, much more skepticism, if not outright hostility coming from the republican side. When did all of this change?

Jason Rose: I think there is a gradual evolution on this issue. Also, let's not forget. This is Arizona. This is not the state of Washington. The sun is a great strength. That is what Barry Goldwater said. He said getting rid of Solar in Arizona is not the republican way and it is not the Arizona way. I think we will continue to see resilience in these numbers. One of the key numbers in the poll was if an elected official is seen as ending the solar program, which is essentially what APS is trying to do in Arizona, the pollster called that quote, political malpractice.

Ted Simons: Why is APS doing this? I can understand protecting your own interest to a certain degree. This seems relatively radical, am I missing something there?

Court Rich: What they see, they're a Monopoly and they do not like competition. They figured out every time a consumer in Arizona puts solar panels on their roof, APS sells a little less electricity and that does not work for a Monopoly that never had to deal with that before. That is exactly what they're trying do. Trying to take away that choice and option.

Ted Simons: As far as the Arizona corporation commission as it is so tabled here, are you seeing -- are you seeing more of this, what Jason is mentioning, this new republican idea of choice in utility?

Court Rich: We're in the middle of a process where they're reviewing this. Certainly the industry is disappointed that we are even talking about this. Why are we out there? Why aren't we talking about APS's subsidies? Why would we only look an alleged subsidy to the solar industry when that industry is getting away from subsidies.

Ted Simons: What do we take from this poll?

Jason Rose: We take from the poll that solar is the computer, APS's Monopoly is the typewriter. Elected officials would be on the side of the future in computers and not on the side of the typewriter.