Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

January 17, 2007


Host: Michael Grant

Bring Back Blue


  • The Chairman of the Maricopa County Board Of Supervisors, Fulton Brock, discusses the county’s new initiative, Bring Back Blue, designed to make people aware of particulate matter pollution in the Valley.
Guests:
  • John Huppenthal - State Senator
  • Tom Prezelski - State Representative
  • Fulton Brock - Chairman, Maricopa County Board of Supervisors
Category: Environment

View Transcript
Michael Grant:
Tonight on "Horizon," we continue our four-part series on issues lawmakers of the 48th Legislature are facing tonight, transportation. Also, a new program created by Maricopa County to help clean up our air. And a look back on the big issues that "Horizon" has covered in the last quarter century. That's next on "Horizon." Good evening and thanks for joining us tonight on "Horizon." I'm Michael Grant. Valley roads are becoming harder to negotiate as the sheer number of cars slow drivers to a crawl during the rush hours. At the state legislature this session--both Republicans and Democrats want to stay ahead of projected growth, eager to solve transportation problems. Here is a brief overview.

Larry Lemmons:
Valley residents already know the experience of traffic snarls. Sure it's not L.A. yet. Not yet. That's one of the reasons Governor Napolitano placed transportation high on a list of priorities in her State-of-the-State address, calling the time spent in traffic a time tax.

Governor Napolitano:
Last year, we agreed to direct an additional $300 million toward accelerating highway construction. With these new moneys we've been able, for example, to speed up work on new lanes for I-17 north of Phoenix and on I-10 in Pima and Pinal counties. Now, by changing the way we finance the terms of existing bonds, as many states already have done, we can raise money this year for critical transportation projects and do even more. By simply extending the terms from 20 to 30-years, we will free up more than $400 million above our current budget to relieve traffic congestion.

Governor Napolitano:
I ask this legislature to support this idea and cut the time tax. [applause]

Michael Grant:
Joining us now to talk about the legislation being proposed to alleviate transportation woes, Senator John Huppenthal, the majority whip, and the ranking Democrat in the house transportation committee, Representative Tom Prezelski. "Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the friend of eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you. Problems. Here is a brief overview.

Michael Grant:
On Horizon, Republican Leaders say they're most concerned about getting the most bang for the buck.

Rep Jim Weiers:
I really want to look at -- If I understood the Governor right she was talking about a couple hundred million that would be the benefit of those consolidation of those bonds. We just want to make sure that that's going to be the best bang for the buck. If you're going to extend it, how much is it going to cost to reorganize? Sometimes it sounds good in the beginning as you're going to be able to get this kind of money. But is the governor at that point saying one of the reasons you're going to get the benefit of x is because you miss a payment within a restructuring. Just like a mortgage payment you go out and restructure so you miss a payment or get to make a payment 45-days later. It comes back you're not saving anything. It will come back and get you.

Sen. Thayer Verschoor:
Obviously we're talking about a capital improvement that 30, 40 years from now you'll be driving on those freeways. It's not like you're buying computers or something like that with that borrowed money. But the problem is it is Bob Rowed and it is -- borrowed and it is interest and you have to weigh out the cost versus benefit. But there again, right now transportation dollars, especially freeway acceleration, will probably go a long ways toward our economic development in this state and in increasing the revenues that we bring, in help pay for those.

Michael Grant:
As of this year, Arizona is now fastest-growing state in the Nation. By executive order the governor has directed the Arizona Department of Transportation to provide within 90-days a detailed list of options for mass transit and other possibilities to best cope with the state's explosive growth.

Michael Grant:
Joining us now to talk about the legislation being proposed to alleviate transportation woes is Senator John Huppenthal the majority whip and the ranging representative on the transportation commit Tom Prezelski.

Michael Grant:
What do you think about the 30-year? Standard brick and mortar thing.

Sen. John Huppenthal:
When you talk to transportation people and say, what are we going to need to stay on to both maintain quality Of life and prosperity they mention to you dollar numbers that seem ludicrous at fist and they're way beyond what the Governor has proposed. So I guess the response is, that's relatively peanuts according to what the challenge is. In two to five years we're going to see extensive damage to our quality after life and almost a destruction of our ability to grow because of traffic congestion.

Michael Grant:
what was the stat you were getting me? Now we're growing at was it 7 million-miles -- driving miles per year or something?

Sen. John Huppenthal:
well, our economy grew almost $20 billion last year. So in two years we've pumped in 40 before worth of economic growth. Just in Maricopa County we have to add 9 million daily passenger miles every year to maintain our quality of life and our prosperity. To give you a comparison, light rail, even if you give it full credit for all the passengers, is expected to bring in about a million to a million and a half passenger mile per day. So it's a small fraction of just one year's needs.

Michael Grant:
What are House Democrats Thinking about the governor's proposal to go from a 20-year to 30-year bond term?

Rep. Tom Prezelski:
It makes a lot of sense. It's a relatively painless method of freeing up some money that we would normally have to commit to paying off our debt. The opposition I've heard from the Republican leadership has been it hasn't made much sense. And I expect they're going to eventually relent when they realize they don't really have an argument against it. But John Huppenthal is absolutely right. We won't have all the resources to meet our unmet needs in transportation. In Pinal County alone it's about $6 billion that we're going to need over the next 20 years or so. Clearly we have to do something about the way we fund transportation, maybe in terms Of looking at the fuel tax, looking at other ways of financing transportation. Because the fuel tax is very limited. We can only go -- it can only be used for roads. We have to look at the whole transportation picture in terms Of transit, aviation, rail, all sorts of things. And we can't do that right now.

Michael Grant:
Now, when you say looking at the fuel tax, do I read here increasing the fuel tax?

Rep. Tom Prezelski:
I think that's something we should be looking at. If someone has a better idea I'd pursue that. But fuel tax hasn't been increased since 1993, I think it is. And right now, it's not sufficient for the needs we have. Our infrastructure is increasing, and the cost of labor and materials is increasing. And we don't have the means to pay for it.

Michal Grant:
It is fixed, and the cost of concrete and right-of-way and all that other stuff keeps going up. And we need to take a look at moving the gas tax up as well?

Sen. John Huppenthal:
Well, the numbers are stunning. It used to cost $10 million to build a mile of freeway that has now exploded up into the range of $40 million a mile. And so when you look at that and you look at a relatively fixed cost structures on gas. But the bottom line is, I don't see any circumstances in which the state legislature would vote on an increase in tax for anything. That's just not been part of the culture down there for a long time.

Michael Grant:
Well, plus you have the supermajority requirement for it as well, I recall.

Sen. John Huppenthal:
So I think the thing we have to do, the governor has put some things on the table. Those have to stay on the table through the negotiations. I tell my fellow Republicans, 30-years from now our grandchildren will be riding on freeways that are ten times as much as they are worth now, and they will be very glad we built those freeways even if we have to borrow to do them. So I think I'm going to encourage my people to work with the governor on that. I think the governor has to be careful not to close any options, either. When you hear those numbers that's going to be required, they're so huge; we've got to have every option on the table.

Michael Grant:
Forget about $450 million. Is an option, going along with your colleague Bob Burns statement that its range cars and people so you whack the rainy day fund for some amount of money?

Sen. John Huppenthal:
The rainy day fund essentially consists entirely of money that was stolen out of transportation funds to balance the budget. So there's an equity argument that that money should now be returned to where it was taken from. It should be returned to transportation. So that's one of the arguments. I think that needs to stay on the table along with the governor's proposal.

Michael Grant:
If I had six more minutes I'd ask you about that. But I don't. So what about 100 million bucks Out of the rainier day fund kicking in?

Rep. Tom Prezelski:
I think everybody who has an opinion about this idea, doesn't like. It the rainy day fund was created for some very specific seasons. Also, that's not a lot of money. It seems like you got a musket and you only got one round and you don't have anything left in your sack. We're not going to have that money next year. So it's a nice gesture. It's a nice way to get a press release out. But it's not good public policy. We have to have something where we can bring in the resources to actually maintain and increase our infrastructure over time and not just do one thing that will work one year.

Michael Grant:
Do we have to do some other Stuff, though? Like for example take a look at toll roads in certain -- we'll solve the whole thing but --

Rep. Tom Prezelski:
Toll roads have a very limited utility. They're not going to work to maintain our arterials within our cities, not going to work to maintain neighborhood streets. But they have some value. I'm a little leery be a plans I've heard of privatizing Roads. I think those roads need to remain public. That's worth looking at but not going to solve the problem by themselves.

Michael Grant:
Toll roads or --

Sen. John Huppenthal: I would disagree with my colleague here a little bit about the rainy day fund. These measures, both the refinancing of the bond and moving money out of the rainy day fund can provide critical bridges to a long-term solution. They can accelerate already capitalized projects. We can get enormous leverage out of those dollars. So I think those things aren't -- those things can be very valuable. But we do need some much bigger long-term solution. And then that ought to be full consideration of every option, including toll roads.

Michael Grant:
Just about out of time. One more option you think we ought to be seriously taking a look at? Is there another idea?

Sen. John Huppenthal:
Well, I think one of the things we haven't investigated actively, I've had discussion with Mary Peters back in Washington, D.C., secretary of transportation, we have to more creatively take advantage of the fact that it freeways and highways create more land value, more economic value than they cost. And when we have to buy that value as government we're killing ourselves. It's not going to be solvable. Somehow we have to leverage that value into -- in getting it and using it to construct the roads.

Michael Grant:
Senator John Huppenthal thanks for joining me. Rep. Tom Prezelski thank you for joining me as well. Tomorrow we'll continue looking at immigration issues. Maricopa County launched a clean air initiative this week. Board of supervisors and county -- have voted bring back blue which should result in bluer Skies.

Bring Back Blue.org:
There was a time when the air around here was so clear and clean, we actually bragged about it. Before we started kicking up and breathing in all this dust and -- you never heard about things like asthma or bronchitis or pollution advisories. It was really nice. But I guess that's ancient history now. Help keep the brown cloud down, and let's bring back blue.

Bring Back Bllue.org:
Wouldn't it be cool if we didn't have to breathe the air outside? We could make all the dust we wanted and it never got into our bodies. Wouldn't it be great if there was no such thing as Asthma or Bronchitis or lung disease? And we could play outside all day without getting sick? That would be awesome. That's not real, is it? That's history. Let's keep the brown cloud down and let's bring back blue.

Michael Grant:
Here now to tell us more about "Bring Back Blue" is the Chairman of the Maricopa County Board of supervisors, Fulton Brock.

Fulton Brock: Thanks for having me on the program tonight.

Michael Grant:
Well, thanks for being here. Why bring back blue? I mean, why now? Why particulates?

Fulton Brock:
Well, a number of factors. Maricopa County is growing. And with growth comes enormous numbers of people and challenges. One of those challenges is the fact that the federal government has looked at our county and said, hey, a desert county. You've got to reduce dust and particulates in the air. So the "Bring Back Blue" project launches a vast educational program in Maricopa County to get the general public aware of a problem that we're facing. And by the way, if we can't reduce dust and particulates in the air, we stand potentially to lose millions and millions of dollars of highway funds.

Michael Grant:
Any change in federal standards recently that is triggering this? Or just the fact that we get more and more people and we get more and more dust and we get closer and closer to the line?

Fulton Brock:
I think the latter. I think three years ago we had three days of non-attainment according to federal guidelines. I think the year before there was 20 some days. And last year there were nearly 50-days of the year that we did not achieve the federal standards of clean air in Maricopa County. And so we have taken on the ozone problem, we've taken on the dust and particulate problem, and we've taken on a number of other components in the air that give us this negative ranking. And we think this component is the one that we need to work the hardest on.

Michael Grant:
Now, I know the county has a variety of different programs, including but not limited to policing work sites, requiring that the dust be watered down on construction sites, a whole series of measures. Is part of "bring back blue" increased attention to those kinds of programs?

Fulton Brock:
It does. It's a composite program that we've launched in both the commercial side and the residential side. From the commercial side, we think we have attention of many of the industrial and commercial sectors with some funds that were levied last year, over $3.5 million for poor levels of performance in the commercial sector. In the residential sector, there are a number of things that really we're also launching in this phase of the project to let the general public be aware. Among those are the dirty dozen that people can see on the Website. That hopefully --

Michael Grant:
What's the largest single Thing? Is it just driving around? It's what you kick up from both the road as well as off the tires or something else?

Fulton Brock:
it's a composite of things. The dust and particulate problem is a combination of commercial and agricultural dust, of harmful, volatile gasses, vapors, and a number of things even to using our leaf blowers have actually become a problem. We're not quite at the level of California where the legislature has levied fines, but we're approaching that, given the number of people.

Michael Grant:
So no single primary contributor in that if you pardon the expression soup.

Fulton Brock:
The knowledge we have an ugly brown cloud on the horizon, it's also become a health issue, too. And we know that emergency rooms have seen a spike in asthma patients more than ever before in this county. And we have reason to believe from the medical community it's because the quality of the air here and the number of people that live and work here.

Michael Grant:
Now, are there some tips for like normal ordinary human Beings? You mentioned the leaf blowers.

Fulton Brock:
We have some tips that people who are conscientious and want to help improve the air and the environment in Maricopa County by going to "bring back Blue".com. There are 12, the dirty dozen. They include a number of simple, elementary things. Such things as don't use those leaf blowers, drive less, kick up less dust when you do drive. Drive slower. Drive with others. Use mass transit. And in fact, we've we're even launching in march a challenge to both the public and the private sector to car pool or use public transportation at least three days in the month of March.

Michael Grant:
Here's an interesting one, don't burn leaves, trash, or other materials. Do people still do that?

Fulton Brock:
Well, sure. Maricopa County is still huge. And it's about 120-miles wide and 135-miles long. And there are lots of rural Residents that still burn trash and garbage.

Michael Grant:
Amazing. It takes me back to my old days in Kansas when we used to do that routinely.

Fulton Brock:
In Kentucky, I grew up on a farm.

Michael Grant:
I think we may have the website address again to throw up at the bottom of the screen. Give it to me one more time?

Fulton Brock:
It's bringbackblue.org.

Michael Grant:
Okay. And there in addition to the dirty dozen tips, I assume there's a lot of other aspects as well.

Fulton Brock:
There are a number of other tips that people can do to help clean the air and make this a safer, better community.

Michael Grant:
Fulton Brock thanks for joining us.

Michael Grant:
Horizon celebrating its 25th Anniversary for the next few nights. We're covering some of the most important stories we've covered in that time. Our fifth most important story, alternative fuels. Those two words have symbolized a fiasco in Arizona legislature. Its architect Jeff Groscost came on to talk about that.

Jeff Groscost:
You can go out and get a portion of the cost of that.

Michael Grant:
Looking for alternatives, Democrats grilled it Tuesday. Architect Jeff Groscost explained it as a creative way to help clean Arizona's air.

Michael Grant:
It turned into one of the biggest public policy blunders in state history. Tonight on Horizon, a look back at what went wrong with an alternative fuels tax credit Program and the damage it created. Good evening, I'm Michael Grant. A year ago today lawmakers hastily passed a bill in the waning hour hours of the Legislative session that. Created an alternative fuels tax credit program. It was estimated at that time to cost the state three million. The price tag could reach 200 million when all is said and done. But the damage does not stop there. People's lives, politicians' careers and the legislative process have all been affected.

: What's the latest? Where are we one year away from the special session? What have we spent? What are we looking at?

Janet Napolitano:
We've basically spent between 134 and $139 million in claims and credits based on the alt fuel program. Which was better than the numbers were ranging as high as $700 million.

Michael Grant:
Keven, welcome back from the Big D.

Keven Willey:
Thank you very much. It's a pleasure to be here.

Michael Grant:
Thanks for joining us. I want to talk about the blame game thing. Obviously Jeff Groscost got a lot of blame, understandably so. Did Jane Hull get off too light, do you think?

Keven Willey:
I think that's a fair observation or something to talk about. Certainly she absorbed much less of the responsibility for this than anybody else. However, I think that the burden of responsibility has to rest with both the house and senate, not to mention the sponsor of the bill. Both chambers passed this bill without fully appreciating what its consequences would be. The fact that third-party involved, the governor's office, didn't realize it either is a bad thing. But the burden rests I think on the front end more than on the back end.

Howard Fischer:
And this comes down to the problem we've been talking about around this table for 25-years, which is they legislate in haste we pen in leisure. Nobody reads the entire bills. We get these yellow fact sheets and they explain what the bill does according to the analysts. And we get these figure of this will cost so much. In fact, the alt fuels -- alternative fuels only made one thing. We already had it. This was you could get back more than you spent. So who was supposed to predict and how do you predict how much that was going to cost?

Keven Willey:
The fact that measure passed out of both chambers after analysis by staff, by allegedly by legislators, by lobbyists, by everybody involved and nobody anticipated what a huge explosion that would be. It was the stealth bill. It was a delayed reaction. It took months for that to explode. But when it exploded it really exploded.

Art Hamilton:
These people also forget that there were changes. The initial bill dealt with new registrations. The bill that ultimately passed and became law simply dealt with all registrations. So it's a pool that in fact could apply for these credits went from a relatively narrow one of brand-new vehicles to the universe. And the reality is that Jeff Groscost back in Washington negotiating with the E.P.A. on the half of the Arizona, our Legislative leader.

Michael Grant:
We're happy to report the legislature learned its lesson. And now every word of every bill is read in great detail.

Art Hamilton:
They probably aren't going to read every word of every bill probably within the next ten years after they pass them. Not quite yet, which is a real problem.

Howard Fischer:
That deals with one other small problem which is term limits. Because the fact is, you don't have the history, you don't have an Art Hamilton around who's been there and could say, look, we tried these five years ago. Here's the pitfalls. You want to know who's been down at the capitol more than anybody else? Me. That's scary.

Michael Grant:
Yeah. Tomorrow we'll take a look at immigration issues. Friday the Journalists' Roundtable. Thank you very much for joining us this evening. I'm Michael Grant. Have a great one. Good night.

HORIZON 25th Anniversary


  • A look at the 5th most influential story covered on HORIZON in the last 25 years: The alternative fuels scandal.
Guests:
  • John Huppenthal - State Senator
  • Tom Prezelski - State Representative
  • Fulton Brock - Chairman, Maricopa County Board of Supervisors
Category: Energy

View Transcript
Michael Grant:
Tonight on "Horizon," we continue our four-part series on issues lawmakers of the 48th Legislature are facing tonight, transportation. Also, a new program created by Maricopa County to help clean up our air. And a look back on the big issues that "Horizon" has covered in the last quarter century. That's next on "Horizon." Good evening and thanks for joining us tonight on "Horizon." I'm Michael Grant. Valley roads are becoming harder to negotiate as the sheer number of cars slow drivers to a crawl during the rush hours. At the state legislature this session--both Republicans and Democrats want to stay ahead of projected growth, eager to solve transportation problems. Here is a brief overview.

Larry Lemmons:
Valley residents already know the experience of traffic snarls. Sure it's not L.A. yet. Not yet. That's one of the reasons Governor Napolitano placed transportation high on a list of priorities in her State-of-the-State address, calling the time spent in traffic a time tax.

Governor Napolitano:
Last year, we agreed to direct an additional $300 million toward accelerating highway construction. With these new moneys we've been able, for example, to speed up work on new lanes for I-17 north of Phoenix and on I-10 in Pima and Pinal counties. Now, by changing the way we finance the terms of existing bonds, as many states already have done, we can raise money this year for critical transportation projects and do even more. By simply extending the terms from 20 to 30-years, we will free up more than $400 million above our current budget to relieve traffic congestion.

Governor Napolitano:
I ask this legislature to support this idea and cut the time tax. [applause]

Michael Grant:
Joining us now to talk about the legislation being proposed to alleviate transportation woes, Senator John Huppenthal, the majority whip, and the ranking Democrat in the house transportation committee, Representative Tom Prezelski. "Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the friend of eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you. Problems. Here is a brief overview.

Michael Grant:
On Horizon, Republican Leaders say they're most concerned about getting the most bang for the buck.

Rep Jim Weiers:
I really want to look at -- If I understood the Governor right she was talking about a couple hundred million that would be the benefit of those consolidation of those bonds. We just want to make sure that that's going to be the best bang for the buck. If you're going to extend it, how much is it going to cost to reorganize? Sometimes it sounds good in the beginning as you're going to be able to get this kind of money. But is the governor at that point saying one of the reasons you're going to get the benefit of x is because you miss a payment within a restructuring. Just like a mortgage payment you go out and restructure so you miss a payment or get to make a payment 45-days later. It comes back you're not saving anything. It will come back and get you.

Sen. Thayer Verschoor:
Obviously we're talking about a capital improvement that 30, 40 years from now you'll be driving on those freeways. It's not like you're buying computers or something like that with that borrowed money. But the problem is it is Bob Rowed and it is -- borrowed and it is interest and you have to weigh out the cost versus benefit. But there again, right now transportation dollars, especially freeway acceleration, will probably go a long ways toward our economic development in this state and in increasing the revenues that we bring, in help pay for those.

Michael Grant:
As of this year, Arizona is now fastest-growing state in the Nation. By executive order the governor has directed the Arizona Department of Transportation to provide within 90-days a detailed list of options for mass transit and other possibilities to best cope with the state's explosive growth.

Michael Grant:
Joining us now to talk about the legislation being proposed to alleviate transportation woes is Senator John Huppenthal the majority whip and the ranging representative on the transportation commit Tom Prezelski.

Michael Grant:
What do you think about the 30-year? Standard brick and mortar thing.

Sen. John Huppenthal:
When you talk to transportation people and say, what are we going to need to stay on to both maintain quality Of life and prosperity they mention to you dollar numbers that seem ludicrous at fist and they're way beyond what the Governor has proposed. So I guess the response is, that's relatively peanuts according to what the challenge is. In two to five years we're going to see extensive damage to our quality after life and almost a destruction of our ability to grow because of traffic congestion.

Michael Grant:
what was the stat you were getting me? Now we're growing at was it 7 million-miles -- driving miles per year or something?

Sen. John Huppenthal:
well, our economy grew almost $20 billion last year. So in two years we've pumped in 40 before worth of economic growth. Just in Maricopa County we have to add 9 million daily passenger miles every year to maintain our quality of life and our prosperity. To give you a comparison, light rail, even if you give it full credit for all the passengers, is expected to bring in about a million to a million and a half passenger mile per day. So it's a small fraction of just one year's needs.

Michael Grant:
What are House Democrats Thinking about the governor's proposal to go from a 20-year to 30-year bond term?

Rep. Tom Prezelski:
It makes a lot of sense. It's a relatively painless method of freeing up some money that we would normally have to commit to paying off our debt. The opposition I've heard from the Republican leadership has been it hasn't made much sense. And I expect they're going to eventually relent when they realize they don't really have an argument against it. But John Huppenthal is absolutely right. We won't have all the resources to meet our unmet needs in transportation. In Pinal County alone it's about $6 billion that we're going to need over the next 20 years or so. Clearly we have to do something about the way we fund transportation, maybe in terms Of looking at the fuel tax, looking at other ways of financing transportation. Because the fuel tax is very limited. We can only go -- it can only be used for roads. We have to look at the whole transportation picture in terms Of transit, aviation, rail, all sorts of things. And we can't do that right now.

Michael Grant:
Now, when you say looking at the fuel tax, do I read here increasing the fuel tax?

Rep. Tom Prezelski:
I think that's something we should be looking at. If someone has a better idea I'd pursue that. But fuel tax hasn't been increased since 1993, I think it is. And right now, it's not sufficient for the needs we have. Our infrastructure is increasing, and the cost of labor and materials is increasing. And we don't have the means to pay for it.

Michal Grant:
It is fixed, and the cost of concrete and right-of-way and all that other stuff keeps going up. And we need to take a look at moving the gas tax up as well?

Sen. John Huppenthal:
Well, the numbers are stunning. It used to cost $10 million to build a mile of freeway that has now exploded up into the range of $40 million a mile. And so when you look at that and you look at a relatively fixed cost structures on gas. But the bottom line is, I don't see any circumstances in which the state legislature would vote on an increase in tax for anything. That's just not been part of the culture down there for a long time.

Michael Grant:
Well, plus you have the supermajority requirement for it as well, I recall.

Sen. John Huppenthal:
So I think the thing we have to do, the governor has put some things on the table. Those have to stay on the table through the negotiations. I tell my fellow Republicans, 30-years from now our grandchildren will be riding on freeways that are ten times as much as they are worth now, and they will be very glad we built those freeways even if we have to borrow to do them. So I think I'm going to encourage my people to work with the governor on that. I think the governor has to be careful not to close any options, either. When you hear those numbers that's going to be required, they're so huge; we've got to have every option on the table.

Michael Grant:
Forget about $450 million. Is an option, going along with your colleague Bob Burns statement that its range cars and people so you whack the rainy day fund for some amount of money?

Sen. John Huppenthal:
The rainy day fund essentially consists entirely of money that was stolen out of transportation funds to balance the budget. So there's an equity argument that that money should now be returned to where it was taken from. It should be returned to transportation. So that's one of the arguments. I think that needs to stay on the table along with the governor's proposal.

Michael Grant:
If I had six more minutes I'd ask you about that. But I don't. So what about 100 million bucks Out of the rainier day fund kicking in?

Rep. Tom Prezelski:
I think everybody who has an opinion about this idea, doesn't like. It the rainy day fund was created for some very specific seasons. Also, that's not a lot of money. It seems like you got a musket and you only got one round and you don't have anything left in your sack. We're not going to have that money next year. So it's a nice gesture. It's a nice way to get a press release out. But it's not good public policy. We have to have something where we can bring in the resources to actually maintain and increase our infrastructure over time and not just do one thing that will work one year.

Michael Grant:
Do we have to do some other Stuff, though? Like for example take a look at toll roads in certain -- we'll solve the whole thing but --

Rep. Tom Prezelski:
Toll roads have a very limited utility. They're not going to work to maintain our arterials within our cities, not going to work to maintain neighborhood streets. But they have some value. I'm a little leery be a plans I've heard of privatizing Roads. I think those roads need to remain public. That's worth looking at but not going to solve the problem by themselves.

Michael Grant:
Toll roads or --

Sen. John Huppenthal: I would disagree with my colleague here a little bit about the rainy day fund. These measures, both the refinancing of the bond and moving money out of the rainy day fund can provide critical bridges to a long-term solution. They can accelerate already capitalized projects. We can get enormous leverage out of those dollars. So I think those things aren't -- those things can be very valuable. But we do need some much bigger long-term solution. And then that ought to be full consideration of every option, including toll roads.

Michael Grant:
Just about out of time. One more option you think we ought to be seriously taking a look at? Is there another idea?

Sen. John Huppenthal:
Well, I think one of the things we haven't investigated actively, I've had discussion with Mary Peters back in Washington, D.C., secretary of transportation, we have to more creatively take advantage of the fact that it freeways and highways create more land value, more economic value than they cost. And when we have to buy that value as government we're killing ourselves. It's not going to be solvable. Somehow we have to leverage that value into -- in getting it and using it to construct the roads.

Michael Grant:
Senator John Huppenthal thanks for joining me. Rep. Tom Prezelski thank you for joining me as well. Tomorrow we'll continue looking at immigration issues. Maricopa County launched a clean air initiative this week. Board of supervisors and county -- have voted bring back blue which should result in bluer Skies.

Bring Back Blue.org:
There was a time when the air around here was so clear and clean, we actually bragged about it. Before we started kicking up and breathing in all this dust and -- you never heard about things like asthma or bronchitis or pollution advisories. It was really nice. But I guess that's ancient history now. Help keep the brown cloud down, and let's bring back blue.

Bring Back Bllue.org:
Wouldn't it be cool if we didn't have to breathe the air outside? We could make all the dust we wanted and it never got into our bodies. Wouldn't it be great if there was no such thing as Asthma or Bronchitis or lung disease? And we could play outside all day without getting sick? That would be awesome. That's not real, is it? That's history. Let's keep the brown cloud down and let's bring back blue.

Michael Grant:
Here now to tell us more about "Bring Back Blue" is the Chairman of the Maricopa County Board of supervisors, Fulton Brock.

Fulton Brock: Thanks for having me on the program tonight.

Michael Grant:
Well, thanks for being here. Why bring back blue? I mean, why now? Why particulates?

Fulton Brock:
Well, a number of factors. Maricopa County is growing. And with growth comes enormous numbers of people and challenges. One of those challenges is the fact that the federal government has looked at our county and said, hey, a desert county. You've got to reduce dust and particulates in the air. So the "Bring Back Blue" project launches a vast educational program in Maricopa County to get the general public aware of a problem that we're facing. And by the way, if we can't reduce dust and particulates in the air, we stand potentially to lose millions and millions of dollars of highway funds.

Michael Grant:
Any change in federal standards recently that is triggering this? Or just the fact that we get more and more people and we get more and more dust and we get closer and closer to the line?

Fulton Brock:
I think the latter. I think three years ago we had three days of non-attainment according to federal guidelines. I think the year before there was 20 some days. And last year there were nearly 50-days of the year that we did not achieve the federal standards of clean air in Maricopa County. And so we have taken on the ozone problem, we've taken on the dust and particulate problem, and we've taken on a number of other components in the air that give us this negative ranking. And we think this component is the one that we need to work the hardest on.

Michael Grant:
Now, I know the county has a variety of different programs, including but not limited to policing work sites, requiring that the dust be watered down on construction sites, a whole series of measures. Is part of "bring back blue" increased attention to those kinds of programs?

Fulton Brock:
It does. It's a composite program that we've launched in both the commercial side and the residential side. From the commercial side, we think we have attention of many of the industrial and commercial sectors with some funds that were levied last year, over $3.5 million for poor levels of performance in the commercial sector. In the residential sector, there are a number of things that really we're also launching in this phase of the project to let the general public be aware. Among those are the dirty dozen that people can see on the Website. That hopefully --

Michael Grant:
What's the largest single Thing? Is it just driving around? It's what you kick up from both the road as well as off the tires or something else?

Fulton Brock:
it's a composite of things. The dust and particulate problem is a combination of commercial and agricultural dust, of harmful, volatile gasses, vapors, and a number of things even to using our leaf blowers have actually become a problem. We're not quite at the level of California where the legislature has levied fines, but we're approaching that, given the number of people.

Michael Grant:
So no single primary contributor in that if you pardon the expression soup.

Fulton Brock:
The knowledge we have an ugly brown cloud on the horizon, it's also become a health issue, too. And we know that emergency rooms have seen a spike in asthma patients more than ever before in this county. And we have reason to believe from the medical community it's because the quality of the air here and the number of people that live and work here.

Michael Grant:
Now, are there some tips for like normal ordinary human Beings? You mentioned the leaf blowers.

Fulton Brock:
We have some tips that people who are conscientious and want to help improve the air and the environment in Maricopa County by going to "bring back Blue".com. There are 12, the dirty dozen. They include a number of simple, elementary things. Such things as don't use those leaf blowers, drive less, kick up less dust when you do drive. Drive slower. Drive with others. Use mass transit. And in fact, we've we're even launching in march a challenge to both the public and the private sector to car pool or use public transportation at least three days in the month of March.

Michael Grant:
Here's an interesting one, don't burn leaves, trash, or other materials. Do people still do that?

Fulton Brock:
Well, sure. Maricopa County is still huge. And it's about 120-miles wide and 135-miles long. And there are lots of rural Residents that still burn trash and garbage.

Michael Grant:
Amazing. It takes me back to my old days in Kansas when we used to do that routinely.

Fulton Brock:
In Kentucky, I grew up on a farm.

Michael Grant:
I think we may have the website address again to throw up at the bottom of the screen. Give it to me one more time?

Fulton Brock:
It's bringbackblue.org.

Michael Grant:
Okay. And there in addition to the dirty dozen tips, I assume there's a lot of other aspects as well.

Fulton Brock:
There are a number of other tips that people can do to help clean the air and make this a safer, better community.

Michael Grant:
Fulton Brock thanks for joining us.

Michael Grant:
Horizon celebrating its 25th Anniversary for the next few nights. We're covering some of the most important stories we've covered in that time. Our fifth most important story, alternative fuels. Those two words have symbolized a fiasco in Arizona legislature. Its architect Jeff Groscost came on to talk about that.

Jeff Groscost:
You can go out and get a portion of the cost of that.

Michael Grant:
Looking for alternatives, Democrats grilled it Tuesday. Architect Jeff Groscost explained it as a creative way to help clean Arizona's air.

Michael Grant:
It turned into one of the biggest public policy blunders in state history. Tonight on Horizon, a look back at what went wrong with an alternative fuels tax credit Program and the damage it created. Good evening, I'm Michael Grant. A year ago today lawmakers hastily passed a bill in the waning hour hours of the Legislative session that. Created an alternative fuels tax credit program. It was estimated at that time to cost the state three million. The price tag could reach 200 million when all is said and done. But the damage does not stop there. People's lives, politicians' careers and the legislative process have all been affected.

: What's the latest? Where are we one year away from the special session? What have we spent? What are we looking at?

Janet Napolitano:
We've basically spent between 134 and $139 million in claims and credits based on the alt fuel program. Which was better than the numbers were ranging as high as $700 million.

Michael Grant:
Keven, welcome back from the Big D.

Keven Willey:
Thank you very much. It's a pleasure to be here.

Michael Grant:
Thanks for joining us. I want to talk about the blame game thing. Obviously Jeff Groscost got a lot of blame, understandably so. Did Jane Hull get off too light, do you think?

Keven Willey:
I think that's a fair observation or something to talk about. Certainly she absorbed much less of the responsibility for this than anybody else. However, I think that the burden of responsibility has to rest with both the house and senate, not to mention the sponsor of the bill. Both chambers passed this bill without fully appreciating what its consequences would be. The fact that third-party involved, the governor's office, didn't realize it either is a bad thing. But the burden rests I think on the front end more than on the back end.

Howard Fischer:
And this comes down to the problem we've been talking about around this table for 25-years, which is they legislate in haste we pen in leisure. Nobody reads the entire bills. We get these yellow fact sheets and they explain what the bill does according to the analysts. And we get these figure of this will cost so much. In fact, the alt fuels -- alternative fuels only made one thing. We already had it. This was you could get back more than you spent. So who was supposed to predict and how do you predict how much that was going to cost?

Keven Willey:
The fact that measure passed out of both chambers after analysis by staff, by allegedly by legislators, by lobbyists, by everybody involved and nobody anticipated what a huge explosion that would be. It was the stealth bill. It was a delayed reaction. It took months for that to explode. But when it exploded it really exploded.

Art Hamilton:
These people also forget that there were changes. The initial bill dealt with new registrations. The bill that ultimately passed and became law simply dealt with all registrations. So it's a pool that in fact could apply for these credits went from a relatively narrow one of brand-new vehicles to the universe. And the reality is that Jeff Groscost back in Washington negotiating with the E.P.A. on the half of the Arizona, our Legislative leader.

Michael Grant:
We're happy to report the legislature learned its lesson. And now every word of every bill is read in great detail.

Art Hamilton:
They probably aren't going to read every word of every bill probably within the next ten years after they pass them. Not quite yet, which is a real problem.

Howard Fischer:
That deals with one other small problem which is term limits. Because the fact is, you don't have the history, you don't have an Art Hamilton around who's been there and could say, look, we tried these five years ago. Here's the pitfalls. You want to know who's been down at the capitol more than anybody else? Me. That's scary.

Michael Grant:
Yeah. Tomorrow we'll take a look at immigration issues. Friday the Journalists' Roundtable. Thank you very much for joining us this evening. I'm Michael Grant. Have a great one. Good night.

Legislature A to Z: Transportation


  • In the third part of our series we look at the transportation issues that will preoccupying lawmakers this session.
Guests:
  • John Huppenthal - State Senator
  • Tom Prezelski - State Representative
  • Fulton Brock - Chairman, Maricopa County Board of Supervisors
Category: Legislature

View Transcript
Michael Grant:
Tonight on "Horizon," we continue our four-part series on issues lawmakers of the 48th Legislature are facing tonight, transportation. Also, a new program created by Maricopa County to help clean up our air. And a look back on the big issues that "Horizon" has covered in the last quarter century. That's next on "Horizon." Good evening and thanks for joining us tonight on "Horizon." I'm Michael Grant. Valley roads are becoming harder to negotiate as the sheer number of cars slow drivers to a crawl during the rush hours. At the state legislature this session--both Republicans and Democrats want to stay ahead of projected growth, eager to solve transportation problems. Here is a brief overview.

Larry Lemmons:
Valley residents already know the experience of traffic snarls. Sure it's not L.A. yet. Not yet. That's one of the reasons Governor Napolitano placed transportation high on a list of priorities in her State-of-the-State address, calling the time spent in traffic a time tax.

Governor Napolitano:
Last year, we agreed to direct an additional $300 million toward accelerating highway construction. With these new moneys we've been able, for example, to speed up work on new lanes for I-17 north of Phoenix and on I-10 in Pima and Pinal counties. Now, by changing the way we finance the terms of existing bonds, as many states already have done, we can raise money this year for critical transportation projects and do even more. By simply extending the terms from 20 to 30-years, we will free up more than $400 million above our current budget to relieve traffic congestion.

Governor Napolitano:
I ask this legislature to support this idea and cut the time tax. [applause]

Michael Grant:
Joining us now to talk about the legislation being proposed to alleviate transportation woes, Senator John Huppenthal, the majority whip, and the ranking Democrat in the house transportation committee, Representative Tom Prezelski. "Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the friend of eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you. Problems. Here is a brief overview.

Michael Grant:
On Horizon, Republican Leaders say they're most concerned about getting the most bang for the buck.

Rep Jim Weiers:
I really want to look at -- If I understood the Governor right she was talking about a couple hundred million that would be the benefit of those consolidation of those bonds. We just want to make sure that that's going to be the best bang for the buck. If you're going to extend it, how much is it going to cost to reorganize? Sometimes it sounds good in the beginning as you're going to be able to get this kind of money. But is the governor at that point saying one of the reasons you're going to get the benefit of x is because you miss a payment within a restructuring. Just like a mortgage payment you go out and restructure so you miss a payment or get to make a payment 45-days later. It comes back you're not saving anything. It will come back and get you.

Sen. Thayer Verschoor:
Obviously we're talking about a capital improvement that 30, 40 years from now you'll be driving on those freeways. It's not like you're buying computers or something like that with that borrowed money. But the problem is it is Bob Rowed and it is -- borrowed and it is interest and you have to weigh out the cost versus benefit. But there again, right now transportation dollars, especially freeway acceleration, will probably go a long ways toward our economic development in this state and in increasing the revenues that we bring, in help pay for those.

Michael Grant:
As of this year, Arizona is now fastest-growing state in the Nation. By executive order the governor has directed the Arizona Department of Transportation to provide within 90-days a detailed list of options for mass transit and other possibilities to best cope with the state's explosive growth.

Michael Grant:
Joining us now to talk about the legislation being proposed to alleviate transportation woes is Senator John Huppenthal the majority whip and the ranging representative on the transportation commit Tom Prezelski.

Michael Grant:
What do you think about the 30-year? Standard brick and mortar thing.

Sen. John Huppenthal:
When you talk to transportation people and say, what are we going to need to stay on to both maintain quality Of life and prosperity they mention to you dollar numbers that seem ludicrous at fist and they're way beyond what the Governor has proposed. So I guess the response is, that's relatively peanuts according to what the challenge is. In two to five years we're going to see extensive damage to our quality after life and almost a destruction of our ability to grow because of traffic congestion.

Michael Grant:
what was the stat you were getting me? Now we're growing at was it 7 million-miles -- driving miles per year or something?

Sen. John Huppenthal:
well, our economy grew almost $20 billion last year. So in two years we've pumped in 40 before worth of economic growth. Just in Maricopa County we have to add 9 million daily passenger miles every year to maintain our quality of life and our prosperity. To give you a comparison, light rail, even if you give it full credit for all the passengers, is expected to bring in about a million to a million and a half passenger mile per day. So it's a small fraction of just one year's needs.

Michael Grant:
What are House Democrats Thinking about the governor's proposal to go from a 20-year to 30-year bond term?

Rep. Tom Prezelski:
It makes a lot of sense. It's a relatively painless method of freeing up some money that we would normally have to commit to paying off our debt. The opposition I've heard from the Republican leadership has been it hasn't made much sense. And I expect they're going to eventually relent when they realize they don't really have an argument against it. But John Huppenthal is absolutely right. We won't have all the resources to meet our unmet needs in transportation. In Pinal County alone it's about $6 billion that we're going to need over the next 20 years or so. Clearly we have to do something about the way we fund transportation, maybe in terms Of looking at the fuel tax, looking at other ways of financing transportation. Because the fuel tax is very limited. We can only go -- it can only be used for roads. We have to look at the whole transportation picture in terms Of transit, aviation, rail, all sorts of things. And we can't do that right now.

Michael Grant:
Now, when you say looking at the fuel tax, do I read here increasing the fuel tax?

Rep. Tom Prezelski:
I think that's something we should be looking at. If someone has a better idea I'd pursue that. But fuel tax hasn't been increased since 1993, I think it is. And right now, it's not sufficient for the needs we have. Our infrastructure is increasing, and the cost of labor and materials is increasing. And we don't have the means to pay for it.

Michal Grant:
It is fixed, and the cost of concrete and right-of-way and all that other stuff keeps going up. And we need to take a look at moving the gas tax up as well?

Sen. John Huppenthal:
Well, the numbers are stunning. It used to cost $10 million to build a mile of freeway that has now exploded up into the range of $40 million a mile. And so when you look at that and you look at a relatively fixed cost structures on gas. But the bottom line is, I don't see any circumstances in which the state legislature would vote on an increase in tax for anything. That's just not been part of the culture down there for a long time.

Michael Grant:
Well, plus you have the supermajority requirement for it as well, I recall.

Sen. John Huppenthal:
So I think the thing we have to do, the governor has put some things on the table. Those have to stay on the table through the negotiations. I tell my fellow Republicans, 30-years from now our grandchildren will be riding on freeways that are ten times as much as they are worth now, and they will be very glad we built those freeways even if we have to borrow to do them. So I think I'm going to encourage my people to work with the governor on that. I think the governor has to be careful not to close any options, either. When you hear those numbers that's going to be required, they're so huge; we've got to have every option on the table.

Michael Grant:
Forget about $450 million. Is an option, going along with your colleague Bob Burns statement that its range cars and people so you whack the rainy day fund for some amount of money?

Sen. John Huppenthal:
The rainy day fund essentially consists entirely of money that was stolen out of transportation funds to balance the budget. So there's an equity argument that that money should now be returned to where it was taken from. It should be returned to transportation. So that's one of the arguments. I think that needs to stay on the table along with the governor's proposal.

Michael Grant:
If I had six more minutes I'd ask you about that. But I don't. So what about 100 million bucks Out of the rainier day fund kicking in?

Rep. Tom Prezelski:
I think everybody who has an opinion about this idea, doesn't like. It the rainy day fund was created for some very specific seasons. Also, that's not a lot of money. It seems like you got a musket and you only got one round and you don't have anything left in your sack. We're not going to have that money next year. So it's a nice gesture. It's a nice way to get a press release out. But it's not good public policy. We have to have something where we can bring in the resources to actually maintain and increase our infrastructure over time and not just do one thing that will work one year.

Michael Grant:
Do we have to do some other Stuff, though? Like for example take a look at toll roads in certain -- we'll solve the whole thing but --

Rep. Tom Prezelski:
Toll roads have a very limited utility. They're not going to work to maintain our arterials within our cities, not going to work to maintain neighborhood streets. But they have some value. I'm a little leery be a plans I've heard of privatizing Roads. I think those roads need to remain public. That's worth looking at but not going to solve the problem by themselves.

Michael Grant:
Toll roads or --

Sen. John Huppenthal: I would disagree with my colleague here a little bit about the rainy day fund. These measures, both the refinancing of the bond and moving money out of the rainy day fund can provide critical bridges to a long-term solution. They can accelerate already capitalized projects. We can get enormous leverage out of those dollars. So I think those things aren't -- those things can be very valuable. But we do need some much bigger long-term solution. And then that ought to be full consideration of every option, including toll roads.

Michael Grant:
Just about out of time. One more option you think we ought to be seriously taking a look at? Is there another idea?

Sen. John Huppenthal:
Well, I think one of the things we haven't investigated actively, I've had discussion with Mary Peters back in Washington, D.C., secretary of transportation, we have to more creatively take advantage of the fact that it freeways and highways create more land value, more economic value than they cost. And when we have to buy that value as government we're killing ourselves. It's not going to be solvable. Somehow we have to leverage that value into -- in getting it and using it to construct the roads.

Michael Grant:
Senator John Huppenthal thanks for joining me. Rep. Tom Prezelski thank you for joining me as well. Tomorrow we'll continue looking at immigration issues. Maricopa County launched a clean air initiative this week. Board of supervisors and county -- have voted bring back blue which should result in bluer Skies.

Bring Back Blue.org:
There was a time when the air around here was so clear and clean, we actually bragged about it. Before we started kicking up and breathing in all this dust and -- you never heard about things like asthma or bronchitis or pollution advisories. It was really nice. But I guess that's ancient history now. Help keep the brown cloud down, and let's bring back blue.

Bring Back Bllue.org:
Wouldn't it be cool if we didn't have to breathe the air outside? We could make all the dust we wanted and it never got into our bodies. Wouldn't it be great if there was no such thing as Asthma or Bronchitis or lung disease? And we could play outside all day without getting sick? That would be awesome. That's not real, is it? That's history. Let's keep the brown cloud down and let's bring back blue.

Michael Grant:
Here now to tell us more about "Bring Back Blue" is the Chairman of the Maricopa County Board of supervisors, Fulton Brock.

Fulton Brock: Thanks for having me on the program tonight.

Michael Grant:
Well, thanks for being here. Why bring back blue? I mean, why now? Why particulates?

Fulton Brock:
Well, a number of factors. Maricopa County is growing. And with growth comes enormous numbers of people and challenges. One of those challenges is the fact that the federal government has looked at our county and said, hey, a desert county. You've got to reduce dust and particulates in the air. So the "Bring Back Blue" project launches a vast educational program in Maricopa County to get the general public aware of a problem that we're facing. And by the way, if we can't reduce dust and particulates in the air, we stand potentially to lose millions and millions of dollars of highway funds.

Michael Grant:
Any change in federal standards recently that is triggering this? Or just the fact that we get more and more people and we get more and more dust and we get closer and closer to the line?

Fulton Brock:
I think the latter. I think three years ago we had three days of non-attainment according to federal guidelines. I think the year before there was 20 some days. And last year there were nearly 50-days of the year that we did not achieve the federal standards of clean air in Maricopa County. And so we have taken on the ozone problem, we've taken on the dust and particulate problem, and we've taken on a number of other components in the air that give us this negative ranking. And we think this component is the one that we need to work the hardest on.

Michael Grant:
Now, I know the county has a variety of different programs, including but not limited to policing work sites, requiring that the dust be watered down on construction sites, a whole series of measures. Is part of "bring back blue" increased attention to those kinds of programs?

Fulton Brock:
It does. It's a composite program that we've launched in both the commercial side and the residential side. From the commercial side, we think we have attention of many of the industrial and commercial sectors with some funds that were levied last year, over $3.5 million for poor levels of performance in the commercial sector. In the residential sector, there are a number of things that really we're also launching in this phase of the project to let the general public be aware. Among those are the dirty dozen that people can see on the Website. That hopefully --

Michael Grant:
What's the largest single Thing? Is it just driving around? It's what you kick up from both the road as well as off the tires or something else?

Fulton Brock:
it's a composite of things. The dust and particulate problem is a combination of commercial and agricultural dust, of harmful, volatile gasses, vapors, and a number of things even to using our leaf blowers have actually become a problem. We're not quite at the level of California where the legislature has levied fines, but we're approaching that, given the number of people.

Michael Grant:
So no single primary contributor in that if you pardon the expression soup.

Fulton Brock:
The knowledge we have an ugly brown cloud on the horizon, it's also become a health issue, too. And we know that emergency rooms have seen a spike in asthma patients more than ever before in this county. And we have reason to believe from the medical community it's because the quality of the air here and the number of people that live and work here.

Michael Grant:
Now, are there some tips for like normal ordinary human Beings? You mentioned the leaf blowers.

Fulton Brock:
We have some tips that people who are conscientious and want to help improve the air and the environment in Maricopa County by going to "bring back Blue".com. There are 12, the dirty dozen. They include a number of simple, elementary things. Such things as don't use those leaf blowers, drive less, kick up less dust when you do drive. Drive slower. Drive with others. Use mass transit. And in fact, we've we're even launching in march a challenge to both the public and the private sector to car pool or use public transportation at least three days in the month of March.

Michael Grant:
Here's an interesting one, don't burn leaves, trash, or other materials. Do people still do that?

Fulton Brock:
Well, sure. Maricopa County is still huge. And it's about 120-miles wide and 135-miles long. And there are lots of rural Residents that still burn trash and garbage.

Michael Grant:
Amazing. It takes me back to my old days in Kansas when we used to do that routinely.

Fulton Brock:
In Kentucky, I grew up on a farm.

Michael Grant:
I think we may have the website address again to throw up at the bottom of the screen. Give it to me one more time?

Fulton Brock:
It's bringbackblue.org.

Michael Grant:
Okay. And there in addition to the dirty dozen tips, I assume there's a lot of other aspects as well.

Fulton Brock:
There are a number of other tips that people can do to help clean the air and make this a safer, better community.

Michael Grant:
Fulton Brock thanks for joining us.

Michael Grant:
Horizon celebrating its 25th Anniversary for the next few nights. We're covering some of the most important stories we've covered in that time. Our fifth most important story, alternative fuels. Those two words have symbolized a fiasco in Arizona legislature. Its architect Jeff Groscost came on to talk about that.

Jeff Groscost:
You can go out and get a portion of the cost of that.

Michael Grant:
Looking for alternatives, Democrats grilled it Tuesday. Architect Jeff Groscost explained it as a creative way to help clean Arizona's air.

Michael Grant:
It turned into one of the biggest public policy blunders in state history. Tonight on Horizon, a look back at what went wrong with an alternative fuels tax credit Program and the damage it created. Good evening, I'm Michael Grant. A year ago today lawmakers hastily passed a bill in the waning hour hours of the Legislative session that. Created an alternative fuels tax credit program. It was estimated at that time to cost the state three million. The price tag could reach 200 million when all is said and done. But the damage does not stop there. People's lives, politicians' careers and the legislative process have all been affected.

: What's the latest? Where are we one year away from the special session? What have we spent? What are we looking at?

Janet Napolitano:
We've basically spent between 134 and $139 million in claims and credits based on the alt fuel program. Which was better than the numbers were ranging as high as $700 million.

Michael Grant:
Keven, welcome back from the Big D.

Keven Willey:
Thank you very much. It's a pleasure to be here.

Michael Grant:
Thanks for joining us. I want to talk about the blame game thing. Obviously Jeff Groscost got a lot of blame, understandably so. Did Jane Hull get off too light, do you think?

Keven Willey:
I think that's a fair observation or something to talk about. Certainly she absorbed much less of the responsibility for this than anybody else. However, I think that the burden of responsibility has to rest with both the house and senate, not to mention the sponsor of the bill. Both chambers passed this bill without fully appreciating what its consequences would be. The fact that third-party involved, the governor's office, didn't realize it either is a bad thing. But the burden rests I think on the front end more than on the back end.

Howard Fischer:
And this comes down to the problem we've been talking about around this table for 25-years, which is they legislate in haste we pen in leisure. Nobody reads the entire bills. We get these yellow fact sheets and they explain what the bill does according to the analysts. And we get these figure of this will cost so much. In fact, the alt fuels -- alternative fuels only made one thing. We already had it. This was you could get back more than you spent. So who was supposed to predict and how do you predict how much that was going to cost?

Keven Willey:
The fact that measure passed out of both chambers after analysis by staff, by allegedly by legislators, by lobbyists, by everybody involved and nobody anticipated what a huge explosion that would be. It was the stealth bill. It was a delayed reaction. It took months for that to explode. But when it exploded it really exploded.

Art Hamilton:
These people also forget that there were changes. The initial bill dealt with new registrations. The bill that ultimately passed and became law simply dealt with all registrations. So it's a pool that in fact could apply for these credits went from a relatively narrow one of brand-new vehicles to the universe. And the reality is that Jeff Groscost back in Washington negotiating with the E.P.A. on the half of the Arizona, our Legislative leader.

Michael Grant:
We're happy to report the legislature learned its lesson. And now every word of every bill is read in great detail.

Art Hamilton:
They probably aren't going to read every word of every bill probably within the next ten years after they pass them. Not quite yet, which is a real problem.

Howard Fischer:
That deals with one other small problem which is term limits. Because the fact is, you don't have the history, you don't have an Art Hamilton around who's been there and could say, look, we tried these five years ago. Here's the pitfalls. You want to know who's been down at the capitol more than anybody else? Me. That's scary.

Michael Grant:
Yeah. Tomorrow we'll take a look at immigration issues. Friday the Journalists' Roundtable. Thank you very much for joining us this evening. I'm Michael Grant. Have a great one. Good night.

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