Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

March 10, 2006


Host: Michael Grant

Education legislation


  • A proposed bill would allow high school seniors to earn more bonus points for good grades on core classes and electives.
Guests:
  • Tom Horne - Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • Karla Averill - special projects director , Governor's Office of Children, Youth and Families
  • Dr. David Berman - senior research fellow, Morrison Institute for Public Policy, Arizona State University


View Transcript
Michael Grant:
Tonight on Horizon, lawmakers tried to make it easier for high school students to earn their diplomas, even if they do not pass the aims test. A bill would have allowed seniors to earn more bonus points for good grades. But it looks like it does not have the support to make it happen just yet. We'll talk to Tom Horne about the plan. Then, the Medicare deadline is fast approaching. So, did you know that Arizona elders are eligible for free or subsidized benefits from the federal and state government? A state program may help those who have questions about the new Medicare prescription drug plan. A governor's senior advisor will tell us more. And, governor Napolitano is on a roll. She has vetoed more than 100 bills thus far. She has set a record for a first-term governor. We'll talk with a political expert about the governor's veto record. All that next, on Horizon.

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

Michael Grant:
Good evening, and welcome to Horizon. I'm Michael Grant. Earlier this week, house state lawmakers passed a bill that would allow high school seniors to earn more bonus points for good grades on core classes and electives. These bonus points would go toward the AIMS test scores. But the bill failed to obtain the two-thirds vote needed to take effect immediately, making it improbable for this year's senior class to take advantage of it and possibly graduate, unless the Arizona state board of education revises its policy. Joining us tonight to talk about the bill is Tom Horne, Arizona superintendent of public instruction. There's a legal problem, Tom, with the state board acting to place it into effect sooner than it otherwise would go into effect?

Tom Horne:
When the legislature passed the bill last year, it wasn't clear. The attorney general ruled that it should be only core curriculum courses where you could use grades to augment- augment the course on AIMS test.

Michael Grant:
In other words it should only apply to English, math, science, not physical education, music, whatever?

Tom Horne:
Right.

Michael Grant:
Okay.

Tom Horne:
And let's never forget social studies. I'm an advocate for social studies. But the attorney general said it should be the core curriculum, the courses that are required to graduate from high school under state rule, not the ones that fall under the electives. A -- electives. A certain number of points you get for those. That was the attorney general's decision last year. Now the legislature is changing the wording but it doesn't take effect in time. I think the legislature would be reluctant to change it before the new statute takes effect because the attorney general said you might to -- need to apply it as written. It doesn't make much difference, mike. Two years ago when 60\% of the kids were failing a lot of people were panicking. I said, if we stick to our guns over 90\% will pass. As it's turning out it looks like substantially over 90\% of the kids with the credits to graduate will in fact graduate. A Tucson reporter called the schools around Tucson. Mesa did a study. They cake up with the same number, between 98 and 99\%. I don't know if it will be that high but it will well over 90\%.

Michael Grant:
Do we know how much of that whatever it is, 90\% to 98\%, how many of them are being benefited by the bonus points that they're getting on A's and B's?

Tom Horne:
We don't know that yet because we don't have the math scores back from the spring test yet and we don't have the information from the schools to do an actual calculation. These were just reporters in Tucson calling the schools to get a rough idea and then the mesa district doing its own view of it. They both came to the same conclusion, between 98 and 99\% at least in those two areas. So we don't know the breakdown but we're getting the idea that my prediction wasn't even as optimistic as things have turned out. The kids have really studied harder, are learning more, and are performing better on the test. It's going to turn out that almost all of them are going to graduate on time. Those that don't can take it in July. If they take it in July they can get their diploma, the 6th try before fall.

Michael Grant:
Do we yet have complete results? I thought I read someplace that the math results were still pending at least for some of the seniors.

Tom Horne:
Math results come in next week and it all has to be calculated.

Michael Grant:
How does the bow bonus system work? Basically you're given bonus points for having done an A or B?

Tom Horne:
An "A" is worth more, a "B" is worth less. You add the points together. It doesn't add a lot but a little bit to the score you got on the aims test. If you got good grades in core curriculum subjects, some points are added to the score you got on the aims test. I opposed the bill when it was first proposed. I think the students should be passing it under its own terms. It ultimately was a compromise with a two-year bridge. After two years they will have to pass the test by the terms of the test.

Michael Grant:
On the other hand, if someone has gotten an ‘A' in English and does badly on the AIMS test, isn't that telling us something?

Tom Horne:
Here's what I'm afraid it might be telling us. In the last several decades, Arizona schools -- really schools nationally, public schools, have suffered from something called social promotion. Teachers give the kids good grades and they go on whether they've learned anything or not because the teachers are told it hurts the kid's feelings if you hold them back. They go from grade to grade and get diplomas whether they've earned anything or not. Kids don't pay attention. So as a result the amount that they learned plummeted. The great thing about the representative government is it has a great capacity for self-correction. The people said, we need to do something about this. The legislature said they have to pass a reasonable objective test. If they got good grades but they do badly on the test that could be an indication they shouldn't have gotten those good grades.

Michael Grant:
Understood. I understand those concerns as well. You can socially promote with a C. It just seems strange to me that someone would be getting an A. That's clearly taking social promotion I think above and beyond the call of duty.

Tom Horne:
I've heard that people sometimes get A's that they shouldn't be getting that. Does argue for the augmentation because it gets a benefit for the A but not the C.

Michael Grant:
Let me cycle back to the state board of education. Is there any possibility the attorney general might weigh in and say, well, now that time legislature has clarified its intent and said it was supposed to apply to a broader set of classes so state board, if you think it appropriate you can go ahead and implement earlier. Do you think there's any possibility that that might occur?

Tom Horne:
I think the attorney general's opinion was based on the way the prior statute was worded. So I don't think that's going to change. And I don't think it would make much difference. If getting C's and D's in core curricular subjects they're probable getting them in their elective classes, too. By and large there's a certain amount of consistency between the classes so I think it would make very little different.

Michael Grant:
Ok. Superintendent of public instruction Tom Horn we appreciate you joining us. Thanks for the information.

Tom Horne:
Good to see you Mike.

Michael Grant:
Time is running out for Medicare recipients to enroll in the federal government's Medicare prescription drug coverage program. The program is known for its complexities, starting with the enrollment process and its benefits, but the state has developed the 'benefits checkup' program, which can assist with determining what service is the right for each person. And it's free. Joining us to explain this program and its benefits is Karla Averill. She's the special projects director for the governor's office of children, youth and families.

Michael Grant:
Karla, thanks for showing up.

Karla Averill:
Thanks for having me.

Michael Grant:
The deadline is Monday, without penalty, we should say. Doesn't mean you can't sign up but there's a penalty?

Karla Averill:
Yes. There's a penalty that starts after May 15, which is Monday. So each month after that it's a 1\% increase. So if you want to look into signing up for the Medicare prescription drug benefit you need to be doing it now very quickly because you only have a few days before the enrollment period closes.

Michael Grant:
I'm hesitant even to mention it because you don't want to have people taking a gamble that they shouldn't take, but it is possible that time federal government might extend that deadline.

Karla Averill:
It's possible. We'll have to wait and see. But as it stands right now, it's May 15.

Michael Grant:
Don't count on it.

Karla Averill:
Don't count on it. I would not.

Michael Grant:
Okay. And the 1\% translates to an increase in the premium that you have to pay.

Karla Averill:
The monthly premium that a person pays, yes.

Michael Grant:
Okay. What's benefit checkup RX?

Karla Averill:
That is a screening tool. It's real important for people to remember it's a tool to help you figure out what you should do about the Medicare prescription drug benefit. So you go on to the website and you see. Is this something that is good for me? Is this something that I want to take a look at? You answer 23 questions. It's a short questionnaire. You never have to worry about putting in any confidential or personal information. It doesn't ask you for your name, your phone number, your social security. That information doesn't matter. What it asks you about is if you're currently on any other programs, what are your current benefits. So it's a short questionnaire and at the end it gives you a recommendation. And it says, based upon how you answered the questions, this is what you should take a look at doing. And after you get those results it will actually give you links of different places or websites, medicare.gov to go to the plan finder. If this says this is something you need to do you can go to the website and do it.

Michael Grant:
It sounds to me like this is almost a pre-screener. It won't necessarily tell you, hey, listen, this plan's got the best bang for the buck for you.

Karla Averill:
Right.

Michael Grant:
What it tells you is yeah, you should sign up for this thing.

Karla Averill:
Take a look at it. Look at the results. And if it's saying that this could save you money, you know, then go to the medicare.gov website. The link is part of the results. And then from there you can look at different plans, look at your drugs that you're on and see if this is going to save you money. So it's a choice. It's an option.

Michael Grant:
And somebody who's not very computer savvy at all, it sounds friendly.

Karla Averill:
It's very friendly, yes. It's very friendly. It's in bigger tonight so it's easily read. The questions are simple. And it really is based -- is meant to be very user friendly so anybody can use it.

Michael Grant:
Now, what's the -- I have a notation here that that's the benefits checkup RX program.

Karla Averill:
Mm-hmm.

Michael Grant:
But then there is another program, which is benefits checkup without the RX.

Karla Averill: Right.

Michael Grant:
What's the difference between those two?

Karla Averill:
Well, that is a screening tool. It's called a comprehensive screening tool. So if you go to the website you'll see that actually there's three different tools there, Medicare rx for people with Medicare, then another screening tool just for people without Medicare and then the comprehensive screening. And what the comprehensive screening does is screens a person for about 1300 different benefits for which they may be eligible for everything from tax programs, to utility programs, to food nutritional programs. So it's a comprehensive screening to see what benefits you may be eligible for. It's one of those things that, you know, why not try it? See what's there. You may be eligible for something. You may not. It is income-as set based so it's very important to remember that.

Michael Grant:
Incidentally we have thrown the information on the screen in terms of the 800 number to dial and the website address.

Karla Averill:
Oh, good.

Michael Grant:
There has been a tremendous amount of confusion about this program. We've done four or five programs on it. And often I've stumbled away from this table thinking I now know less about this thing than I knew before. Has it gotten a little better as different plans have rolled out, different programs have been introduced those kinds of things?

Karla Averill:
Well, I think that for some, yes, for others not. A lot of older adults, they have been inundated with so many materials in the mail that they just don't even want to take a look at this. But we are trying to do through several initiatives that are going on to do outreach to people, to help them educate them about what the program is all about because it can be a very helpful program, especially for people that have limited incomes and don't have any prescription drug coverage and they just have straight Medicare. It's a good deal for that population but it's really reaching that population that has been a challenge for state agencies and local providers.

Michael Grant:
I know that there are some other support groups -- well, the one that comes to mind would be AARP that also try to help with a variety of computer tools and I think seminars around the valley.

Karla Averill:
Seminars around the valley. There's a whole my Medicare matters initiative that is going on that actually have people go out to different sites. They're going to several different bashes in the next few days just to help them -- to help people figure out what the whole plan is. Is this something for me? It is not something for me. So there's lots of things going on. And if people are interested in finding out those they call the 800 number and there will be someone there that can tell them.

Michael Grant:
One of the best tips I picked up from following this thing and doing some segments on them, someone made the comment that what you should really do is go to your medicine cabinet, take a look at the prescriptions that you need, and then sort of cross-hatch that against a plan.

Karla Averill:
Right.

Michael Grant:
And almost try to match, you know, your own needs to whatever a particular plan might be.

Karla Averill:
Exactly. You wouldn't want to pick a plan that doesn't have the majority of your medications on it. That's probably the toughest part for people, is trying to decide what plan to pick and to go through because it's a tedious process. But there are programs out there to help people like benefits checkup RX, there's the state assistance insurance program that is actually the 800 number that is on the screen. And that also does benefits checkup and it also helps people with the Medicare in deciding a plan. Then there's also your local area agency on aging. They have lots of people that are able to help. So there's help out there if people want it. It's just reaching out and getting that help.

Michael Grant:
Okay. Karla Averill, thank you very much for joining us. Again, the deadline is Monday.

Karla Averill:
Monday. Sort of like tax day only another month later.

Michael Grant:
Right. May 15, instead of April 15.

Karla Averill:
Quack.

Michael Grant:
Thanks a lot, Karla Averill.

Michael Grant:
State legislators have called her weak and soft on many issues, which they say is proven by her veto record. Supporters say it is all about politics. What does the governor's veto record really mean? We'll talk to a political analyst but first Nadine Arroyo gives us an overview of the governor's three-year plus veto record.

Nadine:
Governor Napolitano entered into office in January of 2003. Immediately after taking office her vetoing began. In 2003 she vetoed 16 bills, a record for a first year governor. That year she ended with a controversial bill, the unemployment insurance bill, which would have raised the insurance -- unemployment insurance. In 2004 she only vetoed 8 bills. Among the controversies that year was the voter identification bill. This bill would have prospective voters show a legal id before casting their vote, hence proposition 200. 2005 was her biggest veto record. 58 vetoed bills and most were related to the budget. This year thus far governor Napolitano has vetoed 28 bills. One of them was the line item bill regarding state employees pay raise. Under this bill new employees hired above a particular pay grade would not receive merit grades and would not be protected from being demoted, disciplined or fired, making this one of the governor's biggest reasons toward not signing it. In total to date Napolitano has vetoed 110 bills, making her the Arizona governor with the most vetoes during the first term. She's just short of breaking the overall record of 116.

Michael Grant:
Joining us tonight to talk about the governor's veto track record and the reasoning behind them is Dr. David Berman. He is a senior research fellow at ASU's Morrison Institute for public policy. David, good to see you again. You know, those are some pretty daunting numbers. If I recall correctly I think Bruce Babbitt holds the record at 114-6789 but Bruce hung around for about 9 years. We're moving at light speed here.

Dr. David Berman:
Well, she's in some respects the same position. She's a democrat with a republican legislature. I think currently she's also coming up for re-election and that's playing into the accumulation of vetoes. At least -- she's in a situation where at election time I think in part some of the vetoes reflect the desire of republicans to make life a little bit difficult. Some of the measures are coming up are controversial like immigration. And I think the strategy is that republicans believe in the legislation, it's good legislation but they also would like to think the governor would have a tough time dealing with it. No matter what she does she's going to lose. She's going to alienate a group. So I think that the desire maybe to kill a campaign issue would surround some of these vetoes is reflected in what's happening.

Michael Grant:
You know, a very wise friend of mine one time said that a governor is really defined by his or her vetoes. It is a -- it's a flash moment in time. You also got to write a little message explaining why the heck you did it. You like that theory? I always found it somewhat attractive.

Dr. David Berman:
Interesting. Yeah. I think so. But historically and throughout the rest of the country governors who veto a lot are looked upon as weak. Arizona doesn't play that way, oddly enough. It looks like a macho thing to do is to strike them down, you know? The thing you have to worry about and the only thing that would make you look weak and have it defined your whole regime to be being overridden. Unfortunately governors know how to count and they have a good idea that -- who's going to support there this and whether there's one-third out there for me.

Michael Grant:
One of this year's, though, came within one vote of an override.

Dr. David Berman:
Yes.

Michael Grant:
Let me give you a flip side of that bill. I know the theory that you're talking about that you appear as weak and the reason why is because you didn't have the political where with all, to sort of summon people into a collective agreement faith. A lot of polls as you know indicate that Americans -- I would assume Arizonans as well -- grow more weary of this sort of intermeshing warfare between branches of their government. Where does that play when you have 110 vetoes?

Dr. David Berman:
What happens is, I think that they accumulate quickly and there are a whole bunch of them, 50, 60 in a row or something, people are going to say one of two things: this governor is trying to run the state all by herself. She has her own point of view. She won't listen to anyone else. It's become a des pot up there. And I think part of the strategy of the republicans has been to send up bills that they know she'll veto so she can build up that image. So that there is a danger, too, as you suggest, but the public is going to say, the hell with both of you. You're just playing political games here and not accomplishing anything. All you're doing is vetoing. That tends, unfortunately, to hurt everybody. It hurts republicans in the legislature; it will hurt the governor, too, because people will just be turned off from politics, basically, if I see it. So one of the interesting things if you look at the pooling data around the country is that legislators and governors seem to go up and down in tandem. If the legislature can destroy a governor but it destroys itself in the process.

Michael Grant:
Right.

Dr. David Berman:
And the other way around. People like to see them getting along.

Michael Grant:
One of the other phenomena that will frequently occur in this case is you just get to voter dissatisfaction which is kind of what you're alluding to, conflict avoidance, a pox on both their houses, I think I'm just going to sit this one out.

Dr. David Berman:
Right.

Michael Grant:
Any element of that? Do you think either the legislative strategy or for that matter the governor's vetoes?

Dr. David Berman:
I think actually a number of the vetoes are of measures that republicans are sending to her that they know she will veto but have the effect of energizing the republican base and getting them back in, abortion once, the one that would restrict abortion access, are the kind of things that you would expect ---- you know the track record. You know where she stands. And you would expect her to veto it. Why would you keep passing this kind of legislation? It's only to make her look bad.

Dr. David Berman:
To mobilize the base of the republican party and to give them a reason to go out and vote, to remind them that this is the person you want to get out to vote.

Michael Grant:
It seems to me at an issue, though, what paints with a broader brush is this whole issue of immigration, which simply you cannot get away from. They sent her the bill, for example, the National Guard on the border. Now, she maintains that she had a very good reason to veto that because it was really interfering with her constitutional powers as commander in chief.

Dr. David Berman:
Right.

Michael Grant:
I'm not sure, though, that that takes longer than a 15 second sound bite to explain.

Dr. David Berman:
Yeah, right.

Michael Grant:
I'm not sure the legislature doesn't win that one. Your governor vetoed our attempt to put more security on the border what. Do you think?

Dr. David Berman:
I think that she is almost in a no win situation when it comes to that kind of legislation. If she signs it, some of her supporters are going to go. If she vetoes it she gives an issue that's much to the benefit of whoever her opponent will be in the next election. So that is almost a no win one. So what do you do when you're governor? You say, well, maybe I can give people a reason that compels me to make that decision like it's against my prerogatives and it's unconstitutional. I'm not saying these things are true, probably. But you look for a rationale for the decision that is going to cut the losses. As we were talking about earlier, there are a lot of issues that come up in the vetoes that are really institutional; Legislature versus governor issues. That's one about controlling the National Guard.

Michael Grant: Sure.



Dr. David Berman:
Another one would be -- we were talking about --

Michael Grant:
Federal funds.

Dr. David Berman:
Federal funds. Yeah.

Michael Grant:
Dr. David Berman, thank you very much for joining us. Interesting veto thing.

Michael Grant:
You can check on what will be on future Horizons, or take a look at a transcript of tonight's show…by just going to our website at www.azpbs.org and click on Horizon in the middle of the page.

Miguel Sauceda:
He's known for its famous Laffer curve in supply side economics. Learn more about the economic theories of Dr. Arthur Laffer, who was in town recently for a lecture sponsored by a local organization. In addition, Dr. Laffer gives his opinion on which presidents have gotten it right when it comes to economics. That's Thursday at 7 on Horizon.

Michael Grant:
Make sure you also join us on Friday for our journalists' roundtable, when we take a look at the week's top stories.

Michael Grant:
Thank you for joining us this evening. I'm Michael Grant. Have a good night.

Governor Napolitano's Vetoes


  • Gov. Napolitano has vetoed more than 100 bills since becoming Arizona's Governor in 2002. Why has she vetoed so many bills? Michael Grant talks with Dr. David Berman, Senior Research Fellow with ASU's Morrison Institute for Public Policy, about Napolitano's possibly record-breaking vetoes.
Guests:
  • Tom Horne - Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • Karla Averill - special projects director , Governor's Office of Children, Youth and Families
  • Dr. David Berman - senior research fellow, Morrison Institute for Public Policy, Arizona State University


View Transcript
Michael Grant:
Tonight on Horizon, lawmakers tried to make it easier for high school students to earn their diplomas, even if they do not pass the aims test. A bill would have allowed seniors to earn more bonus points for good grades. But it looks like it does not have the support to make it happen just yet. We'll talk to Tom Horne about the plan. Then, the Medicare deadline is fast approaching. So, did you know that Arizona elders are eligible for free or subsidized benefits from the federal and state government? A state program may help those who have questions about the new Medicare prescription drug plan. A governor's senior advisor will tell us more. And, governor Napolitano is on a roll. She has vetoed more than 100 bills thus far. She has set a record for a first-term governor. We'll talk with a political expert about the governor's veto record. All that next, on Horizon.

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

Michael Grant:
Good evening, and welcome to Horizon. I'm Michael Grant. Earlier this week, house state lawmakers passed a bill that would allow high school seniors to earn more bonus points for good grades on core classes and electives. These bonus points would go toward the AIMS test scores. But the bill failed to obtain the two-thirds vote needed to take effect immediately, making it improbable for this year's senior class to take advantage of it and possibly graduate, unless the Arizona state board of education revises its policy. Joining us tonight to talk about the bill is Tom Horne, Arizona superintendent of public instruction. There's a legal problem, Tom, with the state board acting to place it into effect sooner than it otherwise would go into effect?

Tom Horne:
When the legislature passed the bill last year, it wasn't clear. The attorney general ruled that it should be only core curriculum courses where you could use grades to augment- augment the course on AIMS test.

Michael Grant:
In other words it should only apply to English, math, science, not physical education, music, whatever?

Tom Horne:
Right.

Michael Grant:
Okay.

Tom Horne:
And let's never forget social studies. I'm an advocate for social studies. But the attorney general said it should be the core curriculum, the courses that are required to graduate from high school under state rule, not the ones that fall under the electives. A -- electives. A certain number of points you get for those. That was the attorney general's decision last year. Now the legislature is changing the wording but it doesn't take effect in time. I think the legislature would be reluctant to change it before the new statute takes effect because the attorney general said you might to -- need to apply it as written. It doesn't make much difference, mike. Two years ago when 60\% of the kids were failing a lot of people were panicking. I said, if we stick to our guns over 90\% will pass. As it's turning out it looks like substantially over 90\% of the kids with the credits to graduate will in fact graduate. A Tucson reporter called the schools around Tucson. Mesa did a study. They cake up with the same number, between 98 and 99\%. I don't know if it will be that high but it will well over 90\%.

Michael Grant:
Do we know how much of that whatever it is, 90\% to 98\%, how many of them are being benefited by the bonus points that they're getting on A's and B's?

Tom Horne:
We don't know that yet because we don't have the math scores back from the spring test yet and we don't have the information from the schools to do an actual calculation. These were just reporters in Tucson calling the schools to get a rough idea and then the mesa district doing its own view of it. They both came to the same conclusion, between 98 and 99\% at least in those two areas. So we don't know the breakdown but we're getting the idea that my prediction wasn't even as optimistic as things have turned out. The kids have really studied harder, are learning more, and are performing better on the test. It's going to turn out that almost all of them are going to graduate on time. Those that don't can take it in July. If they take it in July they can get their diploma, the 6th try before fall.

Michael Grant:
Do we yet have complete results? I thought I read someplace that the math results were still pending at least for some of the seniors.

Tom Horne:
Math results come in next week and it all has to be calculated.

Michael Grant:
How does the bow bonus system work? Basically you're given bonus points for having done an A or B?

Tom Horne:
An "A" is worth more, a "B" is worth less. You add the points together. It doesn't add a lot but a little bit to the score you got on the aims test. If you got good grades in core curriculum subjects, some points are added to the score you got on the aims test. I opposed the bill when it was first proposed. I think the students should be passing it under its own terms. It ultimately was a compromise with a two-year bridge. After two years they will have to pass the test by the terms of the test.

Michael Grant:
On the other hand, if someone has gotten an ‘A' in English and does badly on the AIMS test, isn't that telling us something?

Tom Horne:
Here's what I'm afraid it might be telling us. In the last several decades, Arizona schools -- really schools nationally, public schools, have suffered from something called social promotion. Teachers give the kids good grades and they go on whether they've learned anything or not because the teachers are told it hurts the kid's feelings if you hold them back. They go from grade to grade and get diplomas whether they've earned anything or not. Kids don't pay attention. So as a result the amount that they learned plummeted. The great thing about the representative government is it has a great capacity for self-correction. The people said, we need to do something about this. The legislature said they have to pass a reasonable objective test. If they got good grades but they do badly on the test that could be an indication they shouldn't have gotten those good grades.

Michael Grant:
Understood. I understand those concerns as well. You can socially promote with a C. It just seems strange to me that someone would be getting an A. That's clearly taking social promotion I think above and beyond the call of duty.

Tom Horne:
I've heard that people sometimes get A's that they shouldn't be getting that. Does argue for the augmentation because it gets a benefit for the A but not the C.

Michael Grant:
Let me cycle back to the state board of education. Is there any possibility the attorney general might weigh in and say, well, now that time legislature has clarified its intent and said it was supposed to apply to a broader set of classes so state board, if you think it appropriate you can go ahead and implement earlier. Do you think there's any possibility that that might occur?

Tom Horne:
I think the attorney general's opinion was based on the way the prior statute was worded. So I don't think that's going to change. And I don't think it would make much difference. If getting C's and D's in core curricular subjects they're probable getting them in their elective classes, too. By and large there's a certain amount of consistency between the classes so I think it would make very little different.

Michael Grant:
Ok. Superintendent of public instruction Tom Horn we appreciate you joining us. Thanks for the information.

Tom Horne:
Good to see you Mike.

Michael Grant:
Time is running out for Medicare recipients to enroll in the federal government's Medicare prescription drug coverage program. The program is known for its complexities, starting with the enrollment process and its benefits, but the state has developed the 'benefits checkup' program, which can assist with determining what service is the right for each person. And it's free. Joining us to explain this program and its benefits is Karla Averill. She's the special projects director for the governor's office of children, youth and families.

Michael Grant:
Karla, thanks for showing up.

Karla Averill:
Thanks for having me.

Michael Grant:
The deadline is Monday, without penalty, we should say. Doesn't mean you can't sign up but there's a penalty?

Karla Averill:
Yes. There's a penalty that starts after May 15, which is Monday. So each month after that it's a 1\% increase. So if you want to look into signing up for the Medicare prescription drug benefit you need to be doing it now very quickly because you only have a few days before the enrollment period closes.

Michael Grant:
I'm hesitant even to mention it because you don't want to have people taking a gamble that they shouldn't take, but it is possible that time federal government might extend that deadline.

Karla Averill:
It's possible. We'll have to wait and see. But as it stands right now, it's May 15.

Michael Grant:
Don't count on it.

Karla Averill:
Don't count on it. I would not.

Michael Grant:
Okay. And the 1\% translates to an increase in the premium that you have to pay.

Karla Averill:
The monthly premium that a person pays, yes.

Michael Grant:
Okay. What's benefit checkup RX?

Karla Averill:
That is a screening tool. It's real important for people to remember it's a tool to help you figure out what you should do about the Medicare prescription drug benefit. So you go on to the website and you see. Is this something that is good for me? Is this something that I want to take a look at? You answer 23 questions. It's a short questionnaire. You never have to worry about putting in any confidential or personal information. It doesn't ask you for your name, your phone number, your social security. That information doesn't matter. What it asks you about is if you're currently on any other programs, what are your current benefits. So it's a short questionnaire and at the end it gives you a recommendation. And it says, based upon how you answered the questions, this is what you should take a look at doing. And after you get those results it will actually give you links of different places or websites, medicare.gov to go to the plan finder. If this says this is something you need to do you can go to the website and do it.

Michael Grant:
It sounds to me like this is almost a pre-screener. It won't necessarily tell you, hey, listen, this plan's got the best bang for the buck for you.

Karla Averill:
Right.

Michael Grant:
What it tells you is yeah, you should sign up for this thing.

Karla Averill:
Take a look at it. Look at the results. And if it's saying that this could save you money, you know, then go to the medicare.gov website. The link is part of the results. And then from there you can look at different plans, look at your drugs that you're on and see if this is going to save you money. So it's a choice. It's an option.

Michael Grant:
And somebody who's not very computer savvy at all, it sounds friendly.

Karla Averill:
It's very friendly, yes. It's very friendly. It's in bigger tonight so it's easily read. The questions are simple. And it really is based -- is meant to be very user friendly so anybody can use it.

Michael Grant:
Now, what's the -- I have a notation here that that's the benefits checkup RX program.

Karla Averill:
Mm-hmm.

Michael Grant:
But then there is another program, which is benefits checkup without the RX.

Karla Averill: Right.

Michael Grant:
What's the difference between those two?

Karla Averill:
Well, that is a screening tool. It's called a comprehensive screening tool. So if you go to the website you'll see that actually there's three different tools there, Medicare rx for people with Medicare, then another screening tool just for people without Medicare and then the comprehensive screening. And what the comprehensive screening does is screens a person for about 1300 different benefits for which they may be eligible for everything from tax programs, to utility programs, to food nutritional programs. So it's a comprehensive screening to see what benefits you may be eligible for. It's one of those things that, you know, why not try it? See what's there. You may be eligible for something. You may not. It is income-as set based so it's very important to remember that.

Michael Grant:
Incidentally we have thrown the information on the screen in terms of the 800 number to dial and the website address.

Karla Averill:
Oh, good.

Michael Grant:
There has been a tremendous amount of confusion about this program. We've done four or five programs on it. And often I've stumbled away from this table thinking I now know less about this thing than I knew before. Has it gotten a little better as different plans have rolled out, different programs have been introduced those kinds of things?

Karla Averill:
Well, I think that for some, yes, for others not. A lot of older adults, they have been inundated with so many materials in the mail that they just don't even want to take a look at this. But we are trying to do through several initiatives that are going on to do outreach to people, to help them educate them about what the program is all about because it can be a very helpful program, especially for people that have limited incomes and don't have any prescription drug coverage and they just have straight Medicare. It's a good deal for that population but it's really reaching that population that has been a challenge for state agencies and local providers.

Michael Grant:
I know that there are some other support groups -- well, the one that comes to mind would be AARP that also try to help with a variety of computer tools and I think seminars around the valley.

Karla Averill:
Seminars around the valley. There's a whole my Medicare matters initiative that is going on that actually have people go out to different sites. They're going to several different bashes in the next few days just to help them -- to help people figure out what the whole plan is. Is this something for me? It is not something for me. So there's lots of things going on. And if people are interested in finding out those they call the 800 number and there will be someone there that can tell them.

Michael Grant:
One of the best tips I picked up from following this thing and doing some segments on them, someone made the comment that what you should really do is go to your medicine cabinet, take a look at the prescriptions that you need, and then sort of cross-hatch that against a plan.

Karla Averill:
Right.

Michael Grant:
And almost try to match, you know, your own needs to whatever a particular plan might be.

Karla Averill:
Exactly. You wouldn't want to pick a plan that doesn't have the majority of your medications on it. That's probably the toughest part for people, is trying to decide what plan to pick and to go through because it's a tedious process. But there are programs out there to help people like benefits checkup RX, there's the state assistance insurance program that is actually the 800 number that is on the screen. And that also does benefits checkup and it also helps people with the Medicare in deciding a plan. Then there's also your local area agency on aging. They have lots of people that are able to help. So there's help out there if people want it. It's just reaching out and getting that help.

Michael Grant:
Okay. Karla Averill, thank you very much for joining us. Again, the deadline is Monday.

Karla Averill:
Monday. Sort of like tax day only another month later.

Michael Grant:
Right. May 15, instead of April 15.

Karla Averill:
Quack.

Michael Grant:
Thanks a lot, Karla Averill.

Michael Grant:
State legislators have called her weak and soft on many issues, which they say is proven by her veto record. Supporters say it is all about politics. What does the governor's veto record really mean? We'll talk to a political analyst but first Nadine Arroyo gives us an overview of the governor's three-year plus veto record.

Nadine:
Governor Napolitano entered into office in January of 2003. Immediately after taking office her vetoing began. In 2003 she vetoed 16 bills, a record for a first year governor. That year she ended with a controversial bill, the unemployment insurance bill, which would have raised the insurance -- unemployment insurance. In 2004 she only vetoed 8 bills. Among the controversies that year was the voter identification bill. This bill would have prospective voters show a legal id before casting their vote, hence proposition 200. 2005 was her biggest veto record. 58 vetoed bills and most were related to the budget. This year thus far governor Napolitano has vetoed 28 bills. One of them was the line item bill regarding state employees pay raise. Under this bill new employees hired above a particular pay grade would not receive merit grades and would not be protected from being demoted, disciplined or fired, making this one of the governor's biggest reasons toward not signing it. In total to date Napolitano has vetoed 110 bills, making her the Arizona governor with the most vetoes during the first term. She's just short of breaking the overall record of 116.

Michael Grant:
Joining us tonight to talk about the governor's veto track record and the reasoning behind them is Dr. David Berman. He is a senior research fellow at ASU's Morrison Institute for public policy. David, good to see you again. You know, those are some pretty daunting numbers. If I recall correctly I think Bruce Babbitt holds the record at 114-6789 but Bruce hung around for about 9 years. We're moving at light speed here.

Dr. David Berman:
Well, she's in some respects the same position. She's a democrat with a republican legislature. I think currently she's also coming up for re-election and that's playing into the accumulation of vetoes. At least -- she's in a situation where at election time I think in part some of the vetoes reflect the desire of republicans to make life a little bit difficult. Some of the measures are coming up are controversial like immigration. And I think the strategy is that republicans believe in the legislation, it's good legislation but they also would like to think the governor would have a tough time dealing with it. No matter what she does she's going to lose. She's going to alienate a group. So I think that the desire maybe to kill a campaign issue would surround some of these vetoes is reflected in what's happening.

Michael Grant:
You know, a very wise friend of mine one time said that a governor is really defined by his or her vetoes. It is a -- it's a flash moment in time. You also got to write a little message explaining why the heck you did it. You like that theory? I always found it somewhat attractive.

Dr. David Berman:
Interesting. Yeah. I think so. But historically and throughout the rest of the country governors who veto a lot are looked upon as weak. Arizona doesn't play that way, oddly enough. It looks like a macho thing to do is to strike them down, you know? The thing you have to worry about and the only thing that would make you look weak and have it defined your whole regime to be being overridden. Unfortunately governors know how to count and they have a good idea that -- who's going to support there this and whether there's one-third out there for me.

Michael Grant:
One of this year's, though, came within one vote of an override.

Dr. David Berman:
Yes.

Michael Grant:
Let me give you a flip side of that bill. I know the theory that you're talking about that you appear as weak and the reason why is because you didn't have the political where with all, to sort of summon people into a collective agreement faith. A lot of polls as you know indicate that Americans -- I would assume Arizonans as well -- grow more weary of this sort of intermeshing warfare between branches of their government. Where does that play when you have 110 vetoes?

Dr. David Berman:
What happens is, I think that they accumulate quickly and there are a whole bunch of them, 50, 60 in a row or something, people are going to say one of two things: this governor is trying to run the state all by herself. She has her own point of view. She won't listen to anyone else. It's become a des pot up there. And I think part of the strategy of the republicans has been to send up bills that they know she'll veto so she can build up that image. So that there is a danger, too, as you suggest, but the public is going to say, the hell with both of you. You're just playing political games here and not accomplishing anything. All you're doing is vetoing. That tends, unfortunately, to hurt everybody. It hurts republicans in the legislature; it will hurt the governor, too, because people will just be turned off from politics, basically, if I see it. So one of the interesting things if you look at the pooling data around the country is that legislators and governors seem to go up and down in tandem. If the legislature can destroy a governor but it destroys itself in the process.

Michael Grant:
Right.

Dr. David Berman:
And the other way around. People like to see them getting along.

Michael Grant:
One of the other phenomena that will frequently occur in this case is you just get to voter dissatisfaction which is kind of what you're alluding to, conflict avoidance, a pox on both their houses, I think I'm just going to sit this one out.

Dr. David Berman:
Right.

Michael Grant:
Any element of that? Do you think either the legislative strategy or for that matter the governor's vetoes?

Dr. David Berman:
I think actually a number of the vetoes are of measures that republicans are sending to her that they know she will veto but have the effect of energizing the republican base and getting them back in, abortion once, the one that would restrict abortion access, are the kind of things that you would expect ---- you know the track record. You know where she stands. And you would expect her to veto it. Why would you keep passing this kind of legislation? It's only to make her look bad.

Dr. David Berman:
To mobilize the base of the republican party and to give them a reason to go out and vote, to remind them that this is the person you want to get out to vote.

Michael Grant:
It seems to me at an issue, though, what paints with a broader brush is this whole issue of immigration, which simply you cannot get away from. They sent her the bill, for example, the National Guard on the border. Now, she maintains that she had a very good reason to veto that because it was really interfering with her constitutional powers as commander in chief.

Dr. David Berman:
Right.

Michael Grant:
I'm not sure, though, that that takes longer than a 15 second sound bite to explain.

Dr. David Berman:
Yeah, right.

Michael Grant:
I'm not sure the legislature doesn't win that one. Your governor vetoed our attempt to put more security on the border what. Do you think?

Dr. David Berman:
I think that she is almost in a no win situation when it comes to that kind of legislation. If she signs it, some of her supporters are going to go. If she vetoes it she gives an issue that's much to the benefit of whoever her opponent will be in the next election. So that is almost a no win one. So what do you do when you're governor? You say, well, maybe I can give people a reason that compels me to make that decision like it's against my prerogatives and it's unconstitutional. I'm not saying these things are true, probably. But you look for a rationale for the decision that is going to cut the losses. As we were talking about earlier, there are a lot of issues that come up in the vetoes that are really institutional; Legislature versus governor issues. That's one about controlling the National Guard.

Michael Grant: Sure.



Dr. David Berman:
Another one would be -- we were talking about --

Michael Grant:
Federal funds.

Dr. David Berman:
Federal funds. Yeah.

Michael Grant:
Dr. David Berman, thank you very much for joining us. Interesting veto thing.

Michael Grant:
You can check on what will be on future Horizons, or take a look at a transcript of tonight's show…by just going to our website at www.azpbs.org and click on Horizon in the middle of the page.

Miguel Sauceda:
He's known for its famous Laffer curve in supply side economics. Learn more about the economic theories of Dr. Arthur Laffer, who was in town recently for a lecture sponsored by a local organization. In addition, Dr. Laffer gives his opinion on which presidents have gotten it right when it comes to economics. That's Thursday at 7 on Horizon.

Michael Grant:
Make sure you also join us on Friday for our journalists' roundtable, when we take a look at the week's top stories.

Michael Grant:
Thank you for joining us this evening. I'm Michael Grant. Have a good night.

Journalists Roundtable


  • Arizona reporters talk about the week's top stories.
Category: Journalists Roundtable

Medicare deadline


  • The Medicare deadline is fast approaching. The program is known for its complexities, but the state has developed the 'benefits checkup' which can assist with determining what service is right for each person.
Guests:
  • Tom Horne - Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • Karla Averill - special projects director , Governor's Office of Children, Youth and Families
  • Dr. David Berman - senior research fellow, Morrison Institute for Public Policy, Arizona State University


View Transcript
Michael Grant:
Tonight on Horizon, lawmakers tried to make it easier for high school students to earn their diplomas, even if they do not pass the aims test. A bill would have allowed seniors to earn more bonus points for good grades. But it looks like it does not have the support to make it happen just yet. We'll talk to Tom Horne about the plan. Then, the Medicare deadline is fast approaching. So, did you know that Arizona elders are eligible for free or subsidized benefits from the federal and state government? A state program may help those who have questions about the new Medicare prescription drug plan. A governor's senior advisor will tell us more. And, governor Napolitano is on a roll. She has vetoed more than 100 bills thus far. She has set a record for a first-term governor. We'll talk with a political expert about the governor's veto record. All that next, on Horizon.

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

Michael Grant:
Good evening, and welcome to Horizon. I'm Michael Grant. Earlier this week, house state lawmakers passed a bill that would allow high school seniors to earn more bonus points for good grades on core classes and electives. These bonus points would go toward the AIMS test scores. But the bill failed to obtain the two-thirds vote needed to take effect immediately, making it improbable for this year's senior class to take advantage of it and possibly graduate, unless the Arizona state board of education revises its policy. Joining us tonight to talk about the bill is Tom Horne, Arizona superintendent of public instruction. There's a legal problem, Tom, with the state board acting to place it into effect sooner than it otherwise would go into effect?

Tom Horne:
When the legislature passed the bill last year, it wasn't clear. The attorney general ruled that it should be only core curriculum courses where you could use grades to augment- augment the course on AIMS test.

Michael Grant:
In other words it should only apply to English, math, science, not physical education, music, whatever?

Tom Horne:
Right.

Michael Grant:
Okay.

Tom Horne:
And let's never forget social studies. I'm an advocate for social studies. But the attorney general said it should be the core curriculum, the courses that are required to graduate from high school under state rule, not the ones that fall under the electives. A -- electives. A certain number of points you get for those. That was the attorney general's decision last year. Now the legislature is changing the wording but it doesn't take effect in time. I think the legislature would be reluctant to change it before the new statute takes effect because the attorney general said you might to -- need to apply it as written. It doesn't make much difference, mike. Two years ago when 60\% of the kids were failing a lot of people were panicking. I said, if we stick to our guns over 90\% will pass. As it's turning out it looks like substantially over 90\% of the kids with the credits to graduate will in fact graduate. A Tucson reporter called the schools around Tucson. Mesa did a study. They cake up with the same number, between 98 and 99\%. I don't know if it will be that high but it will well over 90\%.

Michael Grant:
Do we know how much of that whatever it is, 90\% to 98\%, how many of them are being benefited by the bonus points that they're getting on A's and B's?

Tom Horne:
We don't know that yet because we don't have the math scores back from the spring test yet and we don't have the information from the schools to do an actual calculation. These were just reporters in Tucson calling the schools to get a rough idea and then the mesa district doing its own view of it. They both came to the same conclusion, between 98 and 99\% at least in those two areas. So we don't know the breakdown but we're getting the idea that my prediction wasn't even as optimistic as things have turned out. The kids have really studied harder, are learning more, and are performing better on the test. It's going to turn out that almost all of them are going to graduate on time. Those that don't can take it in July. If they take it in July they can get their diploma, the 6th try before fall.

Michael Grant:
Do we yet have complete results? I thought I read someplace that the math results were still pending at least for some of the seniors.

Tom Horne:
Math results come in next week and it all has to be calculated.

Michael Grant:
How does the bow bonus system work? Basically you're given bonus points for having done an A or B?

Tom Horne:
An "A" is worth more, a "B" is worth less. You add the points together. It doesn't add a lot but a little bit to the score you got on the aims test. If you got good grades in core curriculum subjects, some points are added to the score you got on the aims test. I opposed the bill when it was first proposed. I think the students should be passing it under its own terms. It ultimately was a compromise with a two-year bridge. After two years they will have to pass the test by the terms of the test.

Michael Grant:
On the other hand, if someone has gotten an ‘A' in English and does badly on the AIMS test, isn't that telling us something?

Tom Horne:
Here's what I'm afraid it might be telling us. In the last several decades, Arizona schools -- really schools nationally, public schools, have suffered from something called social promotion. Teachers give the kids good grades and they go on whether they've learned anything or not because the teachers are told it hurts the kid's feelings if you hold them back. They go from grade to grade and get diplomas whether they've earned anything or not. Kids don't pay attention. So as a result the amount that they learned plummeted. The great thing about the representative government is it has a great capacity for self-correction. The people said, we need to do something about this. The legislature said they have to pass a reasonable objective test. If they got good grades but they do badly on the test that could be an indication they shouldn't have gotten those good grades.

Michael Grant:
Understood. I understand those concerns as well. You can socially promote with a C. It just seems strange to me that someone would be getting an A. That's clearly taking social promotion I think above and beyond the call of duty.

Tom Horne:
I've heard that people sometimes get A's that they shouldn't be getting that. Does argue for the augmentation because it gets a benefit for the A but not the C.

Michael Grant:
Let me cycle back to the state board of education. Is there any possibility the attorney general might weigh in and say, well, now that time legislature has clarified its intent and said it was supposed to apply to a broader set of classes so state board, if you think it appropriate you can go ahead and implement earlier. Do you think there's any possibility that that might occur?

Tom Horne:
I think the attorney general's opinion was based on the way the prior statute was worded. So I don't think that's going to change. And I don't think it would make much difference. If getting C's and D's in core curricular subjects they're probable getting them in their elective classes, too. By and large there's a certain amount of consistency between the classes so I think it would make very little different.

Michael Grant:
Ok. Superintendent of public instruction Tom Horn we appreciate you joining us. Thanks for the information.

Tom Horne:
Good to see you Mike.

Michael Grant:
Time is running out for Medicare recipients to enroll in the federal government's Medicare prescription drug coverage program. The program is known for its complexities, starting with the enrollment process and its benefits, but the state has developed the 'benefits checkup' program, which can assist with determining what service is the right for each person. And it's free. Joining us to explain this program and its benefits is Karla Averill. She's the special projects director for the governor's office of children, youth and families.

Michael Grant:
Karla, thanks for showing up.

Karla Averill:
Thanks for having me.

Michael Grant:
The deadline is Monday, without penalty, we should say. Doesn't mean you can't sign up but there's a penalty?

Karla Averill:
Yes. There's a penalty that starts after May 15, which is Monday. So each month after that it's a 1\% increase. So if you want to look into signing up for the Medicare prescription drug benefit you need to be doing it now very quickly because you only have a few days before the enrollment period closes.

Michael Grant:
I'm hesitant even to mention it because you don't want to have people taking a gamble that they shouldn't take, but it is possible that time federal government might extend that deadline.

Karla Averill:
It's possible. We'll have to wait and see. But as it stands right now, it's May 15.

Michael Grant:
Don't count on it.

Karla Averill:
Don't count on it. I would not.

Michael Grant:
Okay. And the 1\% translates to an increase in the premium that you have to pay.

Karla Averill:
The monthly premium that a person pays, yes.

Michael Grant:
Okay. What's benefit checkup RX?

Karla Averill:
That is a screening tool. It's real important for people to remember it's a tool to help you figure out what you should do about the Medicare prescription drug benefit. So you go on to the website and you see. Is this something that is good for me? Is this something that I want to take a look at? You answer 23 questions. It's a short questionnaire. You never have to worry about putting in any confidential or personal information. It doesn't ask you for your name, your phone number, your social security. That information doesn't matter. What it asks you about is if you're currently on any other programs, what are your current benefits. So it's a short questionnaire and at the end it gives you a recommendation. And it says, based upon how you answered the questions, this is what you should take a look at doing. And after you get those results it will actually give you links of different places or websites, medicare.gov to go to the plan finder. If this says this is something you need to do you can go to the website and do it.

Michael Grant:
It sounds to me like this is almost a pre-screener. It won't necessarily tell you, hey, listen, this plan's got the best bang for the buck for you.

Karla Averill:
Right.

Michael Grant:
What it tells you is yeah, you should sign up for this thing.

Karla Averill:
Take a look at it. Look at the results. And if it's saying that this could save you money, you know, then go to the medicare.gov website. The link is part of the results. And then from there you can look at different plans, look at your drugs that you're on and see if this is going to save you money. So it's a choice. It's an option.

Michael Grant:
And somebody who's not very computer savvy at all, it sounds friendly.

Karla Averill:
It's very friendly, yes. It's very friendly. It's in bigger tonight so it's easily read. The questions are simple. And it really is based -- is meant to be very user friendly so anybody can use it.

Michael Grant:
Now, what's the -- I have a notation here that that's the benefits checkup RX program.

Karla Averill:
Mm-hmm.

Michael Grant:
But then there is another program, which is benefits checkup without the RX.

Karla Averill: Right.

Michael Grant:
What's the difference between those two?

Karla Averill:
Well, that is a screening tool. It's called a comprehensive screening tool. So if you go to the website you'll see that actually there's three different tools there, Medicare rx for people with Medicare, then another screening tool just for people without Medicare and then the comprehensive screening. And what the comprehensive screening does is screens a person for about 1300 different benefits for which they may be eligible for everything from tax programs, to utility programs, to food nutritional programs. So it's a comprehensive screening to see what benefits you may be eligible for. It's one of those things that, you know, why not try it? See what's there. You may be eligible for something. You may not. It is income-as set based so it's very important to remember that.

Michael Grant:
Incidentally we have thrown the information on the screen in terms of the 800 number to dial and the website address.

Karla Averill:
Oh, good.

Michael Grant:
There has been a tremendous amount of confusion about this program. We've done four or five programs on it. And often I've stumbled away from this table thinking I now know less about this thing than I knew before. Has it gotten a little better as different plans have rolled out, different programs have been introduced those kinds of things?

Karla Averill:
Well, I think that for some, yes, for others not. A lot of older adults, they have been inundated with so many materials in the mail that they just don't even want to take a look at this. But we are trying to do through several initiatives that are going on to do outreach to people, to help them educate them about what the program is all about because it can be a very helpful program, especially for people that have limited incomes and don't have any prescription drug coverage and they just have straight Medicare. It's a good deal for that population but it's really reaching that population that has been a challenge for state agencies and local providers.

Michael Grant:
I know that there are some other support groups -- well, the one that comes to mind would be AARP that also try to help with a variety of computer tools and I think seminars around the valley.

Karla Averill:
Seminars around the valley. There's a whole my Medicare matters initiative that is going on that actually have people go out to different sites. They're going to several different bashes in the next few days just to help them -- to help people figure out what the whole plan is. Is this something for me? It is not something for me. So there's lots of things going on. And if people are interested in finding out those they call the 800 number and there will be someone there that can tell them.

Michael Grant:
One of the best tips I picked up from following this thing and doing some segments on them, someone made the comment that what you should really do is go to your medicine cabinet, take a look at the prescriptions that you need, and then sort of cross-hatch that against a plan.

Karla Averill:
Right.

Michael Grant:
And almost try to match, you know, your own needs to whatever a particular plan might be.

Karla Averill:
Exactly. You wouldn't want to pick a plan that doesn't have the majority of your medications on it. That's probably the toughest part for people, is trying to decide what plan to pick and to go through because it's a tedious process. But there are programs out there to help people like benefits checkup RX, there's the state assistance insurance program that is actually the 800 number that is on the screen. And that also does benefits checkup and it also helps people with the Medicare in deciding a plan. Then there's also your local area agency on aging. They have lots of people that are able to help. So there's help out there if people want it. It's just reaching out and getting that help.

Michael Grant:
Okay. Karla Averill, thank you very much for joining us. Again, the deadline is Monday.

Karla Averill:
Monday. Sort of like tax day only another month later.

Michael Grant:
Right. May 15, instead of April 15.

Karla Averill:
Quack.

Michael Grant:
Thanks a lot, Karla Averill.

Michael Grant:
State legislators have called her weak and soft on many issues, which they say is proven by her veto record. Supporters say it is all about politics. What does the governor's veto record really mean? We'll talk to a political analyst but first Nadine Arroyo gives us an overview of the governor's three-year plus veto record.

Nadine:
Governor Napolitano entered into office in January of 2003. Immediately after taking office her vetoing began. In 2003 she vetoed 16 bills, a record for a first year governor. That year she ended with a controversial bill, the unemployment insurance bill, which would have raised the insurance -- unemployment insurance. In 2004 she only vetoed 8 bills. Among the controversies that year was the voter identification bill. This bill would have prospective voters show a legal id before casting their vote, hence proposition 200. 2005 was her biggest veto record. 58 vetoed bills and most were related to the budget. This year thus far governor Napolitano has vetoed 28 bills. One of them was the line item bill regarding state employees pay raise. Under this bill new employees hired above a particular pay grade would not receive merit grades and would not be protected from being demoted, disciplined or fired, making this one of the governor's biggest reasons toward not signing it. In total to date Napolitano has vetoed 110 bills, making her the Arizona governor with the most vetoes during the first term. She's just short of breaking the overall record of 116.

Michael Grant:
Joining us tonight to talk about the governor's veto track record and the reasoning behind them is Dr. David Berman. He is a senior research fellow at ASU's Morrison Institute for public policy. David, good to see you again. You know, those are some pretty daunting numbers. If I recall correctly I think Bruce Babbitt holds the record at 114-6789 but Bruce hung around for about 9 years. We're moving at light speed here.

Dr. David Berman:
Well, she's in some respects the same position. She's a democrat with a republican legislature. I think currently she's also coming up for re-election and that's playing into the accumulation of vetoes. At least -- she's in a situation where at election time I think in part some of the vetoes reflect the desire of republicans to make life a little bit difficult. Some of the measures are coming up are controversial like immigration. And I think the strategy is that republicans believe in the legislation, it's good legislation but they also would like to think the governor would have a tough time dealing with it. No matter what she does she's going to lose. She's going to alienate a group. So I think that the desire maybe to kill a campaign issue would surround some of these vetoes is reflected in what's happening.

Michael Grant:
You know, a very wise friend of mine one time said that a governor is really defined by his or her vetoes. It is a -- it's a flash moment in time. You also got to write a little message explaining why the heck you did it. You like that theory? I always found it somewhat attractive.

Dr. David Berman:
Interesting. Yeah. I think so. But historically and throughout the rest of the country governors who veto a lot are looked upon as weak. Arizona doesn't play that way, oddly enough. It looks like a macho thing to do is to strike them down, you know? The thing you have to worry about and the only thing that would make you look weak and have it defined your whole regime to be being overridden. Unfortunately governors know how to count and they have a good idea that -- who's going to support there this and whether there's one-third out there for me.

Michael Grant:
One of this year's, though, came within one vote of an override.

Dr. David Berman:
Yes.

Michael Grant:
Let me give you a flip side of that bill. I know the theory that you're talking about that you appear as weak and the reason why is because you didn't have the political where with all, to sort of summon people into a collective agreement faith. A lot of polls as you know indicate that Americans -- I would assume Arizonans as well -- grow more weary of this sort of intermeshing warfare between branches of their government. Where does that play when you have 110 vetoes?

Dr. David Berman:
What happens is, I think that they accumulate quickly and there are a whole bunch of them, 50, 60 in a row or something, people are going to say one of two things: this governor is trying to run the state all by herself. She has her own point of view. She won't listen to anyone else. It's become a des pot up there. And I think part of the strategy of the republicans has been to send up bills that they know she'll veto so she can build up that image. So that there is a danger, too, as you suggest, but the public is going to say, the hell with both of you. You're just playing political games here and not accomplishing anything. All you're doing is vetoing. That tends, unfortunately, to hurt everybody. It hurts republicans in the legislature; it will hurt the governor, too, because people will just be turned off from politics, basically, if I see it. So one of the interesting things if you look at the pooling data around the country is that legislators and governors seem to go up and down in tandem. If the legislature can destroy a governor but it destroys itself in the process.

Michael Grant:
Right.

Dr. David Berman:
And the other way around. People like to see them getting along.

Michael Grant:
One of the other phenomena that will frequently occur in this case is you just get to voter dissatisfaction which is kind of what you're alluding to, conflict avoidance, a pox on both their houses, I think I'm just going to sit this one out.

Dr. David Berman:
Right.

Michael Grant:
Any element of that? Do you think either the legislative strategy or for that matter the governor's vetoes?

Dr. David Berman:
I think actually a number of the vetoes are of measures that republicans are sending to her that they know she will veto but have the effect of energizing the republican base and getting them back in, abortion once, the one that would restrict abortion access, are the kind of things that you would expect ---- you know the track record. You know where she stands. And you would expect her to veto it. Why would you keep passing this kind of legislation? It's only to make her look bad.

Dr. David Berman:
To mobilize the base of the republican party and to give them a reason to go out and vote, to remind them that this is the person you want to get out to vote.

Michael Grant:
It seems to me at an issue, though, what paints with a broader brush is this whole issue of immigration, which simply you cannot get away from. They sent her the bill, for example, the National Guard on the border. Now, she maintains that she had a very good reason to veto that because it was really interfering with her constitutional powers as commander in chief.

Dr. David Berman:
Right.

Michael Grant:
I'm not sure, though, that that takes longer than a 15 second sound bite to explain.

Dr. David Berman:
Yeah, right.

Michael Grant:
I'm not sure the legislature doesn't win that one. Your governor vetoed our attempt to put more security on the border what. Do you think?

Dr. David Berman:
I think that she is almost in a no win situation when it comes to that kind of legislation. If she signs it, some of her supporters are going to go. If she vetoes it she gives an issue that's much to the benefit of whoever her opponent will be in the next election. So that is almost a no win one. So what do you do when you're governor? You say, well, maybe I can give people a reason that compels me to make that decision like it's against my prerogatives and it's unconstitutional. I'm not saying these things are true, probably. But you look for a rationale for the decision that is going to cut the losses. As we were talking about earlier, there are a lot of issues that come up in the vetoes that are really institutional; Legislature versus governor issues. That's one about controlling the National Guard.

Michael Grant: Sure.



Dr. David Berman:
Another one would be -- we were talking about --

Michael Grant:
Federal funds.

Dr. David Berman:
Federal funds. Yeah.

Michael Grant:
Dr. David Berman, thank you very much for joining us. Interesting veto thing.

Michael Grant:
You can check on what will be on future Horizons, or take a look at a transcript of tonight's show…by just going to our website at www.azpbs.org and click on Horizon in the middle of the page.

Miguel Sauceda:
He's known for its famous Laffer curve in supply side economics. Learn more about the economic theories of Dr. Arthur Laffer, who was in town recently for a lecture sponsored by a local organization. In addition, Dr. Laffer gives his opinion on which presidents have gotten it right when it comes to economics. That's Thursday at 7 on Horizon.

Michael Grant:
Make sure you also join us on Friday for our journalists' roundtable, when we take a look at the week's top stories.

Michael Grant:
Thank you for joining us this evening. I'm Michael Grant. Have a good night.

What's on?

Content Partner:

  About KAET Contact Support Legal Follow Us  
  About Eight
Mission/Impact
History
Site Map
Pressroom
Contact Us
Sign up for e-news
Pledge to Eight
Donate Monthly
Volunteer
Other ways to support
FCC Public Files
Privacy Policy
Facebook
Twitter
YouTube
Google+
Pinterest
 

Need help accessing? Contact disabilityaccess@asu.edu

Eight is a member-supported service of Arizona State University    Copyright Arizona Board of Regents