Arizona Horizon Banner

March 5, 2014

Host: Ted Simons

Legislative Update

  |   Video
  • Luige del Puerto from the Arizona Capitol Times will give us the latest news from the State Capitol in our weekly political update.
  • Luige del Puerto - Journalist, Arizona Capitol Times
Category: Legislature   |   Keywords: legislative, update, legislature, state, capitol,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Coming up next on "Arizona Horizon," our weekly political update with the Arizona Capitol Times and the report is released today on how to help support the economic self-sufficiency of Arizona women. Those stories next on "Arizona Horizon."

"Arizona Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the friends of , members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

Ted Simons: Good evening. Welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. It's a little quieter at the state capitol this week but bills are moving including an effort to kill a recently implemented education standards that the legislature approved four years ago. Luige Del Puerto is here for our weekly political update. That bill was moving. Is it still moving?

Luige Del Puerto: Not any more. The State Senate today voted down that bill five Republican Senators and the whole democratic caucus voted against the proposal by Senator Al Melvin which would have prohibited the state from implementing the common core standards or any standards associated with common core.

Ted Simons: What was the reason? Approved in 2010. Arizona did have input on this. Superintendent of public instruction very strongly for it. Education folks like it for the most part. Business leaders love it. Al Melvin running for governor. What was the reasoning for this bill?

Luige Del Puerto: Among the grass roots of the Republican -- within the Republican party, common core is almost like Obamacare. Or we can almost say it's the new Obamacare, something that has riled up the conservative base and tea partiers, who believe that common core is just another agenda, another program that basically the Feds are using to control education in the state. You're right; this community is for the implementation of common core. Yesterday the state chamber of commerce wrote to the Senator saying if you voted for Al Melvin's bill there would be chaos in the classrooms. We have been implementing these standards for four years now. If you pass this bill, then it puts us in limbo.

Ted Simons: Let me get this right. Those who are against -- it's now called the Arizona college career ready standards. Even the name change was made to placate those who heard common core and threw up red flags. Are they giving examples of why this is not good for education or is simply one of these states' rights, we don't like it ideologically?

Luige Del Puerto: All those interests and concerns. What we hear most clearly from folks who are opposed is the fact that it's supposedly an elite group of educators that represent Arizona that then helped to develop this new standard. There was no input from parents.

Ted Simons: Not necessarily good or bad for kids, it's who came up with it.

Luige Del Puerto: Right. At this point. We can't really tell if it's a good thing or not. The standards are stricter, but we don't even have -- we haven't even implemented testing yet aligned to the new standards.
Ted Simons: A surprise that the Senate voted it down?

Luige Del Puerto: No. We have heard from enough folks from the Republican side of the aisle basically saying, no, we have the standards. It would cause trouble if we did. So these bills are not going anywhere.

Ted Simons: We have state lawmaker announcing he's gay. Is that a surprise?

Luige Del Puerto: Well, to the public it is a surprise. Senator Steve Gallardo, veteran lawmaker, a political activist, very prominent within the Hispanic community, today called a small group of reporters and told them he is gay in public. He's kept this one private for many years. He only came out to his friends I think when he was 25 years old and to his parents when he was 30 years old. But this is an opportune time for him, probably the best time for him to declare his sexual orientation. He's running in a district, a liberal district. Central Phoenix, that area has had a history of being represented by lawmakers who are homosexuals. Ken Chevron, for example, before, even Kyrsten Sinema now.

Ted Simons: I guess because you're running in a congressional race this would be almost preemptive in the sense if anyone wants to make a deal out of this or whisper – Here it is, I’m out.

Luige Del Puerto: Probably the district does not matter.

Ted Simons: Speaking of gay issues, LGBT poll finds support for gay marriage higher than it has been and civil unions higher than it has been.

Luige Del Puerto: In Arizona this issue has always divided the state. But today 49% according to the latest poll from a democratic polling firm shows that 49% are supportive of same-sex marriage. 41% are opposed. That's a stark -- very stark change from where we were even two years ago. Clearly what we are seeing is a dramatic change, social upheaval if you will, people becoming more tolerant of gay rights issues. We see this across the nation there was a poll out today, "Washington Post" poll, that shows that 59% of Americans now support same-sex marriage. Half of Americans believe it's a constitutional right for them to marry. That's an all-time high.

Ted Simons: But it makes you wonder if that particular momentum is cresting, is it going to continue where it is and level off? There's ballot measures suggested for 2016, and some say the media frenzy is the result of numbers. You come 2016 the whole thing could change again.

Luige Del Puerto: It’s not just media frenzy. We have seen this trend moving towards gay rights for the last five, six years, moving very rapidly. If you look at what the landscape was ten years ago it was radically different. The movement toward gay rights has moved I think beyond most people's expectations. In Arizona if it's 49 against 41. That's a huge change.

Ted Simons: Indeed. Civil unions as well is interesting. That was part of the polling question as well. Those numbers, even 32% against marriage, gay marriage, still okay with civil unions.

Ted Simons: Right. It goes to show that society is changing. That has lots of political implications; don't get me wrong, this battle will go on for a couple more years. We may see something on the ballot in 2016.

Ted Simons: Before you go, last question. Is Kyrsten Sinema serious? She's sitting legislator in congressional district 9, certainly the frontrunner, certainly seems like she has quite the backing behind her to succeed in her next campaign, a Republicans have some folks running but there isn't a clear threat. She's thinking of moving over to CD 7, where a whole bunch of folks -- what's going on?

Luige Del Puerto: She has refused to speak anything disclosing what their political plans are, which fuels this speculation that she is seriously considering moving into congressional district 9. What we have heard mostly from Republican consultants is this a good this evening for her. This is the case or a case where self-preservation, self-advancement is key. And the only factor she should consider is whether this is good for her or not.

Ted Simons: Are we hearing that from Republican consultants, I can understand why, all of a sudden CD 9 is open for business. What are we hearing from the Democrat consultants?

Luige Del Puerto: When I spoke with a spokesperson of the Democratic party, they are keeping out of this potential primary battle but we have heard from Latino leaders in particular who say please do not move to CD 7. We are cognizant of the fact we have more than $1 million in the bank. If you move you will be a game changer. This is a district that overwhelmingly is Hispanic and we want someone Hispanic to continue leading this district.

Ted Simons: Good to have you here.

Luige Del Puerto: Thank you.

State of Women in Arizona

  |   Video
  • A new report will be released on the state of women in Arizona by the Arizona Foundation for Women. It was conducted by the Grand Canyon Institute for the Southern Foundation of Arizona Women and looks at the economic and education conditions of women and families in our state and offers solutions to the problems it outlines. Sara Presler, CEO of the Arizona Foundation for Women, and Grand Canyon Institute Fellow Molly Castelazo, will talk about the report’s findings.
  • Sara Presler - CEO, Arizona Foundation for Women
  • Molly Castelazo - Fellow, Grand Canyon Institute
Category: Business/Economy   |   Keywords: business, economy, foundation, women, report, solutions,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: The Arizona foundation for women and the women's foundation of southern Arizona release add report today on state funded and administered programs that impact low income Arizona families. The study used research conducted by the Grand Canyon institute. Here to talk about the new report is Sara Presler, CEO of the Arizona foundation for women and Grand Canyon institute fellow Molly Castelazo.

Both: Thanks for having us.

Ted Simons: This is a big report, there's a lot to go through. Let's start from the 30,000 feet an get down there as we go. Supporting Arizona women's economic self-sufficiency. What are we talking about here?

Sara Presler: Here's what we're talking about. The Arizona foundation for women creates a better life for all of Arizona's women and children. We do that by investing in data driven research to drive the conversation so we hoped with Molly's very good work as a research fellow with the Grand Canyon institute to inform good public policy. This report is really about what's happened over the last five years with Arizona legislative funding and specific programs that impact the lives of Arizona's women and children.

Ted Simons: What has happened over the last five years?

Molly Castelazo: Well, in our research, I think it's important to understand first that when we're talking about the economic self-sufficiency of women and programs and policies that are designed to support that, we're talking about economic development. This is an issue of how do we advance the economy and advance the economic situation of the state as a whole, and do that for all Arizona families. So we looked at different policies and programs that might help support women's self-sufficiency. We looked at child care subsidies. We looked at early childhood education. In nearly every case, the state has substantially cut or eliminated funding. In some cases we are very happy to note that the state has restored funding in the case of access, of course, and adult education, but it's not a positive picture.

Ted Simons: When it comes to low income families and Arizona women from low income backgrounds, I have noticed the work force, poverty rates are so much more different and staggered against women. Work force educations, responsibility for kids, homeownership these are all listed in this report and the numbers don't look all that good.

Sara Presler: The numbers don't lie. What is important to remember the Arizona foundation for women focuses on safety, health and economic empowerment. We're trying to create a self-sufficient community. When we know that 79% of single parent families are headed by women, more than half a million of Arizona's women are poor, we know women are more likely than men to be out of the work force, 59% versus the 41% of men. We know that women are more likely than men to be working low paying jobs. We know now for a fact that what people have been saying is true. It's time now that we do something about it. We're really grateful that southern Arizona women's foundation and Arizona foundation for women is so happy to have this research. So much is going right in Arizona, I mean, we have Intel, APS, SRP, all these amazing things. Housing is on the up. Strong, indigenous communities, yet we're looking in the rearview mirror saying, hey, legislature, it's time to catch up.

Ted Simons: Crunching some of the numbers, especially the occupation, women more likely to work low-paying jobs, more likely to be part-time as opposed to full-time. Is there a choice factor here? Is there is an option factor? What kind of variables do you put into some of these numbers?

Molly Castelazo: Well, let's look first at the work force participation rate. When you take in the context of the fact that 79% of single family households are headed by women, it makes it very difficult when you're trying to raise children to also work full-time year round. But we do know that the poverty rate for women who don't work full-time year round is dramatically higher. It's 21% compared to 4% the rate of poverty for women who do work full-time year round. I think putting it in context of women raising children on their own it doesn't look so much like a choice.

Ted Simons: Indeed. And responsibility for kids, 32% single mother households, and low income child care affordability, that's a big one isn’t it?

Molly Castelazo: It is. So we looked not only at what you would call the official poverty level but also the southern Arizona women's foundation did some research on self-sufficiency standards. Beyond the official poverty level, what does it take to support a family? For the vast majority of families, child care is not affordable.

Ted Simons: Yeah.

Sara Presler: In fact, Ted, there are many Arizonans, especially women, with 79% leading up the single parent households paying more in child care than they are in their rent.

Ted Simons: We should mention as well 77% rent rather than own, which is a factor as well. So we have obviously the numbers don't lie, but the numbers are there. Are the numbers getting better in any of these rubrics, if you will?

Molly Castelazo: That's an interesting question. In terms of poverty rates across the board, we looked at the period 2007 to 2012. So as we all know, one of the toughest economic periods in our lifetimes certainly. So during that period, no, the poverty rates have not improved. One bright spot that we looked at is the rate of pregnancy, of teenage pregnancy has come down, which when we look at all of the other numbers in context is very positive.

Ted Simons: You mention the economic conditions here. The state of Arizona, we have lawmakers here all the time talking about cuts and registration. Arizona had to cut due to the recession. Valid?

Sara Presler: Valid. But unlike other states across the country, Arizona did not restore its funding to pre-recession levels. Everyone is searching for the answers, Ted. We're in a CPS crisis, prison costs per inmate are rising every day, but this type of information investing in Arizona's women and children, this is economic development. This is the solution.

Ted Simons: But again, if I'm a lawmaker and I'm sitting across from you saying we can't afford even now to restore to pre-recession levels, in the report it was mentioned 1992 levels were even brought up, you put them back to 1992 levels, tax rates and such, many of these problems seem to go away funding-wise, the state can't afford it.

Sara Presler: We can't afford not to. This kind of information, knowing this forward plan for economic empowerment and self-sufficiency will help us protect Arizona's children and prevent the next CPS crisis. If we can invest in all day kindergarten, $1 invested in early childhood education results in an $11 return on investment to the state. The trouble is that we're used to these fast food results. This is going to take a long-term perspective, a big picture view, which we do at the Arizona foundation for women. We say look, even though it's not popular, it's the right thing to do. What many people say they can't afford it, we say we can’t afford not to do it.

Ted Simons: From your research if I'm a lawmaker and I say we can't afford it and that's just the way it is, are there numbers that really are the most compelling that just jump out and say, will you just look at this and understand what it means?

Molly Castelazo: Absolutely. To the question, can we afford it, to answer that question, we looked at some research by Tom Rex, who did some work for the Grand Canyon institute. It posed the question, have the tax cuts that the state has enacted broadly since 1992, have they boosted economic activity? Because that's one of the arguments in favor of tax cuts. And he found that they have not. In fact, if we today reverted to the level of taxation on personal income that we had in 1992, we wouldn't have a negative effect on economic output. There would be 3.15 billion more a year in the state covers.

Ted Simons: I saw that. It's like, that makes sense. Good luck. 1992 levels. Goodness gracious. That's not going to happen.

Sara Presler: I understand but a budget is reflective of a state's priorities. Dramatic cuts to programs that directly impact the economic self-sufficiency of Arizona women and children speaks volumes about whether we as Arizona's women and children are the priority. As the legislature develops its budget we ask them to utilize this report and let that serve as the point on the spear. This really is true economic development.

Ted Simons: Are you getting some attention? Obviously the report released today, but are you sensing folks paying attention here? Sometimes these reports are released and everyone believes what they want to believe and we move on.

Molly Castelazo: Fortunately we're getting some really positive attention. We hope that our policy makers will pay as much attention as we have received so far from media. Because -- I think I was speaking about this in another forum, and the question came up, well, policy makers are not going to pay attention. They are not going to increase taxes, for example to fund some of these programs or to refund some of these programs. So what can be done?

Ted Simons: Very quickly. Going to stop there?

Molly Castelazo: No. We are voters. It's our responsibility as voters to tell our policy makers what needs to be done.

Ted Simons: That’s a good place to stop. Good to have you both here. Thank you for joining us. We appreciate it.

Both: Thanks for having us.

Ted Simons: I'm Ted Simons. Thank you for joining us. You have a great evening.