Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

June 18, 2007


Host: Cary Pfeffer

Budget


  • An update on where the state budget process is with House Majority Leader Tom Boone.
Guests:
  • Tom Boone - House Majority Leader, Representative
  • Barrett Marson - GOP Spokesperson for the Arizona House of Representatives
  • John Loredo - Political Consultant, Tequida and Gutierrez
Category: Legislature

View Transcript
>>Cary Pfeffer:
Tonight on "Horizon" -- the latest on budget negotiations in the Legislature. Two political types go head to head on issues that affect Arizona in our regular Monday feature, "One-On-One". And the next mission to Mars will be a search for life -- next on "Horizon."

>>Announcer:
"Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the Friends of Eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
Good evening, and thank you for joining us tonight on "Horizon." I'm Cary Pfeffer. The Arizona Senate today is considering the budget compromise reached by the House and Senate last week. The House will consider it later in the week. The budget reportedly includes $11 million in tax cuts, considerably less than the House had wanted. Joining me now to talk about the negotiations with the Senate, and what we might expect in terms of a budget, the House Majority Leader, Representative Tom Boone. Tom, thanks for being here.

>>Tom Boone:
You're welcome. Thank you.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
This is a changing picture, and one that changes especially as those last minutes are reached, but tell us what you can about where it stands right now?

>>Tom Boone:
Absolutely. I think we are close to being finished. Today, just before I came down here about a half hour ago, the Senate Appropriations Committee did pass out the budget as it was agreed to. And they are currently in the Senate meeting the House Republican -- or I should say the Senate Republicans and the Senate Democrats are meeting separately to consider all the details, most of which they already know. And then, their intent is to come back this evening and take it to the preliminary vote on the floor, and also the final vote on the floor of the Senate, and then it'll be passed over to the House tomorrow.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
So, that is real progress in considering the long time that it takes to get here. And then, conceivably, this could be passed by the House, and on to the Governor's Office by the end of the day tomorrow?

>>Tom Boone:
It could be done by the end of the day tomorrow in the House. Assuming the Senate finishes their business tonight, which we have every indication that they will, the House should take it up tomorrow and should finish it tomorrow.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
And, Tom, let's talk about the big picture items. --

>>Tom Boone:
Absolutely.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
--that people would be interested in. Talking about a lot of money here, but let's talk about the details.

>>Tom Boone:
Sure.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
Why don't we hit education first because it gets a lot of attention?

>>Tom Boone:
Talk about K-12 first. There's about $325 million in new operating money for K-12. That's about, give or take, a little under 8\% over the prior year.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
So, an 8\% increase for K-12.

>>Tom Boone:
That's correct. Part of that is for growth in students, about 3\%, but the balance is new money per student. We set aside $120 million for new school construction because we are constantly building new schools for K-12.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
Right.

>>Tom Boone:
Part of the K-12 package is teacher pay. You probably heard a lot about that. There's $46 million set aside specifically for teacher pay. It's a little bit different than what the House version came out -- what we ended up with. The House version had $46 million, half of which we had for performance pay for teachers. In other words, it was linked to student achievement, but that we couldn't convince the Governor that that was important enough, so it didn't get in the final package. We do have -- it's a nice K-12 package. It's good for them. And the University's is a part of the education is the other part of that. They received about a 12\% increase over the prior year also, which included the funding for the planning, design, and second class for the Downtown Phoenix Medical Campus. So that is a huge thing, too. Transportation is coming out a winner also. About $562 million set aside over the next three years. $62 million this year. $500 million in the refinancing of taking the bonds to 30 years for transportation --

>>Cary Pfeffer:
Right.

>>Tom Boone:
And all that will be used to accelerate projects around the State for transportation.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
That is something that gets people's attention just because there has been so much discussion about the idea of speeding up some of these projects, and now there will be the money there to make sure it gets done.

>>Tom Boone:
Absolutely. And another big ticket area is, of course, corrections. And they were constantly behind trying to catch up on prison beds and prison facilities, and over the next two years, we have about 6,000 new beds in facilities being built as a result of the budget. Those are the big picture.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
Now, I know for the House side, you all had hoped for additional tax cuts that aren't ultimately in the package as it is looking now. Why don't you address that for me?

>>Tom Boone:
Absolutely. The House had about $64 million worth of tax relief, as we called it, and it was very comprehensive. It ranged from corporate income tax across-the-board reductions to four areas in particular I wouldn't mind talking about, if I could.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
We are getting a little bit tight on time, but you can just kind of - the highlights.

>>Tom Boone:
Sure. I will make it quick. The college Savings Plans we had $10 million. $3 million got in the final version of the budget, which is being voted out. What that money is for is to help the individuals in Arizona, the Residents of Arizona when they make contributions to their children's College Savings Plans, they actually get a deduction on the State Income Tax. That was a new thing, it was in the House version. We would like $10 million, we got three. We are glad we got three. We would like to get more, but we didn't. We had also money in there for retiree income exclusion for the Vets that retire here, and also for the state employees. We couldn't get that past the Governor either, nor the public school donations for the extra curricular fees and private schools also. We had money in for that, but didn't make it in either. We couldn't convince the Governor that that was important enough. So, next year.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
Exactly, and it's always a matter of going through these things. And lastly, you're thinking that you will be completely wrapped up probably by maybe Thursday, something like that?

>>Tom Boone:
That's correct. There is a great anticipation that we will finish this week. We are normally working through Thursday so hopefully the end of the day Thursday, we'll be finish.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
Alright, Representative Tom Boone, thanks very much for being here.

>>Tom Boone:
Thanks for inviting me.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
You bet.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
Every Monday evening, we feature two political experts going "One-On-One" on issues that affect the State. Tonight, talking about the budget, immigration, politics and more -- the GOP Spokesperson for the Arizona House of Representatives, Barrett Marson, and Political Consultant with Tequida and Gutierrez, John Loredo.

>>Barrett Marson:
So, John, good evening.

>>John Loredo:
Good evening.

>>Barrett Marson:
I don't know if you saw last week, but the white smoke did come from the Capitol and we now have a budget agreement between the House, the Senate, and the Governor. And today as we speak, they are starting to vote on it in the Senate and the House will do it tomorrow or sometime very soon. So, but, you know, there has been a lot of ruminations about what is in and out of the budget, but this is a budget that a lot of people still got the things that they wanted. Republicans got modest tax relief, and we got a 529 College Savings Program for the people out there to start saving for the college future, children's, grandchildren's college education.

>>John Loredo:
Sure.

>>Barrett Marson:
So, we are happy about that. I know that you are probably happy about the result as well.

>>John Loredo:
Sure, I think the 529 issue is something that everybody can support. But, you know, I think that at the end of the day, you really had kind of the Senate version with a couple of tweaks, and that's the way negotiations go. I think the reality is that the gap is kind of closed between Democrats and Republicans and there needs to be a new way of approaching these things in that you are not going to have a final version unless all of the caucuses are at the table talking to each other.

>>Barrett Marson:
You know, I don't know if I would say that the 529 Program was easy to support, not everyone supported. It was a real fight to get that in. This was deemed a tax cut for the rich by the people in the Democratic Party, and this was really aimed at the Middle Class.

>>John Loredo:
Not necessarily, I mean --

>>Barrett Marson:
Run on the floor when we did the tax cut package, the people, you know, the Democrats were calling the package aimed at the wealthy, and the 529 was a big part of that.

>>John Loredo:
Sure. And it is something that I think everybody is willing to support. What they weren't willing to support the $60 million proposal by the Republican caucus. They wind up getting 4 million of it.

>>Barrett Marson:
But $10 million of it was the 529 Program. $2,500 per person and $5,000 per married couple, and the $2,500 sort of represented what it would cost, $5,000 is what it would cost for a year at ASU or a state school, though it could be used at any school in the country.

>>John Loredo:
And there's victories to go all the way around. I mean, the Democratic side will say we held off for the vouchers. No new money for the vouchers in the State. No new money for the student -- the organizations. No more money on that. There were a lot of differences between the House version and Senate version and what we got out was the Senate version with a couple of tweaks, and that is something that everyone can support and hopefully the Governor will sign.

>>Barrett Marson:
Sounds like the Governor will sign it.

>>John Loredo:
OK, Barrett, next we have the outstanding issue this session of English Language Learners. We have the judge basically saying, "you have to take care of this problem by the end of session, or I'm going to hold you all in contempt". And you have the Legislature basically saying, "we are not going to do anything until we get a read, any word back from the appeal". So it is kind of like a standoff. It is a type of standoff that has happened the entire 16 years that this case has been in the courts. And any indication what is going to happen on that?

>>Barrett Marson:
First of all, there has been a lot of movement. Last year the legislature had a bill and the Governor eventually allowed it to become law that set up a Task Force to create models so that School Districts are following the same model instead of piecemeal and so these children will be taught English. It is very important that the children be taught English, but that doesn't necessarily mean it has to be done as expensively as possible as the judge wants it to be. So, we are now -- the Task Force is now creating those models that can be used in every School District around the State. And so while we have not addressed the judge's concerns and we are -- you know, the Legislature is appealing that decision. And so, there will be nobody in contempt, nobody is going to jail, so don't worry about that. I know you are worried about it.

>>John Loredo:
But the big issue is not the different models, the issue is you can create all the models you want to, but if you are not willing to pay for it -- that's what the court case is all about, you GOT to pay the money.

>>Barrett Marson:
And I believe the Legislature will pay the money once the models are created.

>>John Loredo:
Well, but it's a stalling tactic. You roll this back year after year after year, and there is always something else we are waiting for. There's always something else. We don't know the exact figure so we are waiting on NCSL to bring us the cost estimate. NCSL brings the cost estimate. It is too much, and we need to go back and figure out.

>>Barrett Marson:
But NCSL -- You know what? That organization said that its report was fundamentally flawed. They didn't even charge the Legislature for --

>>John Loredo:
And that was how long ago?

>>Barrett Marson:
About a year ago or so.

>>John Loredo:
How long does it take to do --

>>Barrett Marson:
Arizona had-- the Governor keeps vetoing the bills. The Legislature came up with a fix that has now gone to court and we are going through that process.

>>John Loredo:
And judge has said it is not going to meet -- it is not going to meet the muster.

>>Barrett Marson:
Those judges has been wrong before.

>>John Loredo:
Well, the legislature has been wrong more, and Tim Hogan has been right more on a number of cases, and it will be interesting to see whether or not the Legislature simply dies after the budget is done and see just kind of goes on to see what type of being held in contempt really means.

>>Barrett Marson:
Well, let's go on to an issue where the Legislature has been correct more often than not, and that is Illegal Immigration.

>>John Loredo:
[laughs] According to who?

>>Barrett Marson:
The Legislature is working on a final Employer Sanctions Bill. You know, Russell Pearce is one of the leading advocates of going after Illegal Immigrants and their employers, and we are in the final stages of crafting that plan. I think you will see that plan go forward. And that would say, if employers knowingly -- and that is the important part, knowingly -- hire illegal aliens or illegal immigrants, that they will face penalties for that.

>>John Loredo:
And knowingly is the key to this whole thing. Knowingly is the gigantic hole that you can drive a Mack truck through at the federal level. Knowingly has been nothing more than a loophole for employers to get out of any sanctions at all.

>>Barrett Marson:
But if you notice, only recently the feds have been starting to crack down. I don't know if they have the resources --

>>John Loredo:
There have only been a couple.

>>Barrett Marson:
There have been a couple high profile ones. It is easier to prove, you have to work at it. You just have to be willing to devote resources and time to work at it. Because they are getting hired --

>>John Loredo:
You can go to any construction site, you can go to any farm in the State, and you will bust all the people you need to bust. The issue is whether or not the Legislature is going to get real about this and create a type of penalty program that will actually stop people from hiring. And I just can't see the legislature --

>>Barrett Marson:
How about losing your business license? That is the Death Penalty.

>>John Loredo:
I can't see legislators biting the hand that feeds them.

>>Barrett Marson:
Losing a license -- the business license is the Death Penalty for the business.

>>John Loredo:
If there's no loophole for you to get through. That's the key. But Barrett, another issue that we have on the plate is the whole voucher issue that has been kicked around court, a recent ruling. What do you think?

>>Barrett Marson:
First of all, you mentioned there was no additional money for school choice in the budget. Well, first of all, we do have school of choice in higher education. But you know, it was an important victory for people who believe in having really good education, that good education doesn't stop at the Public Schools. And this is to allow foster kids and developmentally disabled kids to get specialized help at the private schools, where the public schools aren't -- can't do as good of a job. I mean, it's an important victory. It's a narrow victory, but an important one for people who support school choice, and people who want to see public schools better. When there is competition, public schools come up to meet that competition, and that is what school choice advocates have been saying for years. We look at Charter Schools. Charter Schools take away students from public schools, from traditional public schools and that really forces schools like the Mesa Public Schools to get better. How can we retain the students? We got to offer better programs. That is what school of choice advocates have been saying all along, and this is an important victory for them.

>>John Loredo:
The problem is, however, that it is public money for private places, private schools.

>>Barrett Marson:
That is not what the judge said. I mean that would have been an essential point.

>>John Loredo:
But the judge did not clarify why she made the decision that she did. She just said, "this is what I think and that is it". It was literally one paragraph of a decision. But the fact of the matter is that this voucher program is for anyone that has an individual improvement plan, it's not just developmentally disabled people. It is for anyone who has that plan. So the impact is still yet to be seen. But the real issue here is that, you know, at the very beginning of this, there was a request by the education community that the Supreme Court automatically take this up. They rejected that request and said you got to go through the lower courts--

>>Barrett Marson:
Absolutely.

>>John Loredo:
Regardless of whoever wins this thing at whichever level, it is going to wind up in the Supreme Court and that is where the decision will be made.

>>Barrett Marson:
You're absolutely right, and the people who want to block positive results for education will continue their fight, and the people who trying to make a change in public and private school are going to continue to win.

>>John Loredo:
The majority of the kids in the State are in the Public Schools so it is those Public Schools teachers and those Public School Board members, those are the real advocates for education. And the fact of the matter remains, I mean, if you are talking about programs for developmentally disabled students, the private schools are not the folks who spend their time catering to that type of student. So, we'll see what happens at the next level, and I'm sure whoever loses will bump it up to the next.

>>Barrett Marson:
But you know what the great thing is? The parents are making the choice in this. They are making the choice about what is best for their children.

>>John Loredo:
Well, and if public schools had the resources that they need, every parent would be able to make a good choice to send their kids to fully funded public schools.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
NASA reportedly has a theme for exploring Mars: Follow The Water. NASA's next mission to the Red Planet will take off in August. The Phoenix Mars Mission will explore the subsurface in the Martian arctic environment for the first time. NASA will partner with the Canadian Space Agency and the U niversity of Arizona. The U of A will be in charge of the science aspect of the mission. Earlier this evening, I spoke with Peter Smith, who's the principal investigator at the U of A Lunar and Planetary Lab.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
Peter, thanks very much for joining us. We appreciate your taking some time to be here. We want to start with having you tell us about the back story here. We know it was called the Phoenix Mars Mission and, of course, here in phoenix, we like to take ownership of that. But that's not exactly the real story. Why don't you fill us in?

>>Peter Smith:
Well, our mission actually capitalizes on the investment that NASA has made for the last 15 years, and we are using instruments and spacecraft that was developed for other purposes. And these parts came available for our mission, and we thought of it as kind of a resurrection, or rising from the ashes, so we called it Phoenix. I think that's the same logic that gave rise to the name Phoenix the city.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
absolutely. Well, so we will take that connection, even if it is not a direct one, and we appreciate it. Talk about the role that the U of A will play. You are really heading up the science portion of this mission, correct?

>>Peter Smith:
Actually, I'm not only in charge of the science, I'm in charge of the entire mission and I am sort of the peak of the pyramid. But the day-to-day management responsibilities are the Jet Propulsion Lab and the spacecrafts being developed at Lockheed Martin in Denver. And so, we have a triangular approach, using the best of each organization. Aerospace expertise from Lockheed Martin. Management and mission design from JPL, and science from the university.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
Very neat. And talk about what the -- once the craft reaches the Martian surface, talk about the specifics of what will happen and what you are hoping to find when you get there?

>>Peter Smith:
well, next May 25th, when our Phoenix Spacecraft lands on Mars -- and we're landing the old fashioned way with a propulsion system, not the air bags that have been used before -- when we land, the control will switch from the Jet Propulsion Lab to the University of Arizona --

>>Cary Pfeffer:
Wow.

>>Peter Smith:
-- and our Science Operations Center will start to actually operate the spacecraft on Mars to do the science that the mission is planning to do. And in order to do that, we are going to be on "Mars Time" here at the University so this is going to be quite a struggle for us.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
Yeah, you definitely are going to be out of your regular time zone connection there. The goal is to focus in on water as has been some -- you know, we have heard about that in the past but are there some specific differences that are connected with this mission?

>>Peter Smith:
Well, Mars is very cold at this part of its orbital cycle, and we expect to find only ice, but we know we are going to find ice because not only do we see Permafrost-like features in the northern plains, but the Odyssey Spacecraft has actually been able to see beneath the surface layers and see signatures of water ice in the polar regions. Our whole mission is about trying to understand whether the polar ice melts as Mars goes through its various orbital cycles.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
And how much of a challenge is it to get through? We think of thick ice and challenges of working in extremely cold temperatures. What kind of challenges are you facing there and how do you overcome some of those challenges?

>>Peter Smith:
Well, the ice on Mars is minus 100 degrees Celsius, which is extremely, cold as ice in the Antarctic, and it is hard when it gets that cold. It is almost as hard as granite. We will dig down to the ice, and then we have a sampling device called a "Rasp" that will allow us to take small samples of the ice, and our science instruments on the spacecraft will tell us whether the ice melted, what kind of minerals are associated with the ice, whether there are salts because if there was a wet environment, you might expect evaporations to leave salts behind. And finally, whether there's organic material there because one of our key goals is to see if this is a habitable region on Mars.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
And just the idea of trying to get through those, for example, extremely hard surfaces, how are you able to design something that is both light enough to be part of this spacecraft, but also efficient in trying to get through some of the materials that you are going to face on the Martian surface?

>>Peter Smith:
Well, Cary, this is really the challenge. We have to be cognizant of the mass limits for taking science instruments to Mars, and we've had to shrink and size the normal laboratory size instruments that we would use on the Earth. And in particular, the robotic arm has to be strong and thin. So we have a very capable arm that has been designed at a special place that built the arm for the MER Rovers that are still working on Mars, so we know that they can do a good job for us and we expect that our arm might actually be strong enough to move the lander if we pull against a rock.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
And when you are in this situation we have seen pictures from the surface, with this mission we be able to see some of those photos and tell us a little bit about how all of us at home might be able to experience what you are going to see?

>>Peter Smith:
Yes, the first picture you will see is one taken during the descent. And then over the next couple of days, you will start to see pictures of the surrounding Martian terrain taken from a human height above the surface with full color and even stereoscopic vision. So we should have wonderful pictures right away in the first few days of the mission. And as the mission goes on, we will actually start looking deeper and deeper into the actual soils and ices on the surface with microscopes and other instruments that we have to look at the finest grains of sand.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
And just as a last question because you always have to ask -- be asking -- be asked, rather, this question, connect what you are doing with this mission to other things that are going to be happening, how it has an impact on our knowledge of life in this Universe and that sort of thing?

>>Peter Smith:
Well, people have always been curious whether there is life on Mars. If you go back over history, you find times when people were convinced there were living organisms on Mars, and at other times convinced there weren't. At one of those times where we are going back again and taking a reexamination and see if Mars is the kind of place where life could survive. And in order for that to be the case, the first step is to find a source of liquid water, and the polar ice is a place where we can send the mission and get to that ice just beneath the surface and look at the ice soil boundary and really tell if that is a place where water has been in the liquid form. And then, we are going to look for organic materials, and that will tell us whether there is a food source or all the ingredients for building the bodies of living organisms. The one thing we don't know is could there be an entirely different type of life on Mars, and we don't know how to think about that ahead of time so we are on an exploratory mission.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
Alright, Peter, thank you very much for your time and good luck with the mission.

>>Peter Smith:
Thank you, Cary.

>>Merry Lucero:
Public health officials continue warnings about a Ground Beef recall because of concerns that repackaged meat by grocery stores may contain E. Coli, and the mining industry helped put Jerome on the map. Today, a popular tourist destination. Picturesque Jerome and its history Tuesday on "Horizon."

>>Cary Pfeffer:
Wednesday, we'll speak with Corporation Commissioner Kris Mayes about new renewable energy requirements. Thursday, a "Horizon" special edition will examine the issues that affect the military in Arizona. Friday, don't forget to join us for the Journalists' Roundtable.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
I'm Cary Pfeffer.
Thanks very much for watching. Have a great night.

>>Announcer:
If you have comments about "Horizon", please contact us at the addresses listed on your screen. Your name and comments may be used on a future edition of "Horizon".

>>Announcer:
"Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the Friends of Eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

One on One


  • Our regular Monday feature will focus on the budget and potential immigration reform. Barrett Marson, GOP spokesman for the State House of Representatives and John Loredo, a political consultant for Tequida and Gutierrez, are our guests.
Guests:
  • Tom Boone - House Majority Leader, Representative
  • Barrett Marson - GOP Spokesperson for the Arizona House of Representatives
  • John Loredo - Political Consultant, Tequida and Gutierrez


View Transcript
>>Cary Pfeffer:
Tonight on "Horizon" -- the latest on budget negotiations in the Legislature. Two political types go head to head on issues that affect Arizona in our regular Monday feature, "One-On-One". And the next mission to Mars will be a search for life -- next on "Horizon."

>>Announcer:
"Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the Friends of Eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
Good evening, and thank you for joining us tonight on "Horizon." I'm Cary Pfeffer. The Arizona Senate today is considering the budget compromise reached by the House and Senate last week. The House will consider it later in the week. The budget reportedly includes $11 million in tax cuts, considerably less than the House had wanted. Joining me now to talk about the negotiations with the Senate, and what we might expect in terms of a budget, the House Majority Leader, Representative Tom Boone. Tom, thanks for being here.

>>Tom Boone:
You're welcome. Thank you.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
This is a changing picture, and one that changes especially as those last minutes are reached, but tell us what you can about where it stands right now?

>>Tom Boone:
Absolutely. I think we are close to being finished. Today, just before I came down here about a half hour ago, the Senate Appropriations Committee did pass out the budget as it was agreed to. And they are currently in the Senate meeting the House Republican -- or I should say the Senate Republicans and the Senate Democrats are meeting separately to consider all the details, most of which they already know. And then, their intent is to come back this evening and take it to the preliminary vote on the floor, and also the final vote on the floor of the Senate, and then it'll be passed over to the House tomorrow.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
So, that is real progress in considering the long time that it takes to get here. And then, conceivably, this could be passed by the House, and on to the Governor's Office by the end of the day tomorrow?

>>Tom Boone:
It could be done by the end of the day tomorrow in the House. Assuming the Senate finishes their business tonight, which we have every indication that they will, the House should take it up tomorrow and should finish it tomorrow.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
And, Tom, let's talk about the big picture items. --

>>Tom Boone:
Absolutely.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
--that people would be interested in. Talking about a lot of money here, but let's talk about the details.

>>Tom Boone:
Sure.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
Why don't we hit education first because it gets a lot of attention?

>>Tom Boone:
Talk about K-12 first. There's about $325 million in new operating money for K-12. That's about, give or take, a little under 8\% over the prior year.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
So, an 8\% increase for K-12.

>>Tom Boone:
That's correct. Part of that is for growth in students, about 3\%, but the balance is new money per student. We set aside $120 million for new school construction because we are constantly building new schools for K-12.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
Right.

>>Tom Boone:
Part of the K-12 package is teacher pay. You probably heard a lot about that. There's $46 million set aside specifically for teacher pay. It's a little bit different than what the House version came out -- what we ended up with. The House version had $46 million, half of which we had for performance pay for teachers. In other words, it was linked to student achievement, but that we couldn't convince the Governor that that was important enough, so it didn't get in the final package. We do have -- it's a nice K-12 package. It's good for them. And the University's is a part of the education is the other part of that. They received about a 12\% increase over the prior year also, which included the funding for the planning, design, and second class for the Downtown Phoenix Medical Campus. So that is a huge thing, too. Transportation is coming out a winner also. About $562 million set aside over the next three years. $62 million this year. $500 million in the refinancing of taking the bonds to 30 years for transportation --

>>Cary Pfeffer:
Right.

>>Tom Boone:
And all that will be used to accelerate projects around the State for transportation.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
That is something that gets people's attention just because there has been so much discussion about the idea of speeding up some of these projects, and now there will be the money there to make sure it gets done.

>>Tom Boone:
Absolutely. And another big ticket area is, of course, corrections. And they were constantly behind trying to catch up on prison beds and prison facilities, and over the next two years, we have about 6,000 new beds in facilities being built as a result of the budget. Those are the big picture.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
Now, I know for the House side, you all had hoped for additional tax cuts that aren't ultimately in the package as it is looking now. Why don't you address that for me?

>>Tom Boone:
Absolutely. The House had about $64 million worth of tax relief, as we called it, and it was very comprehensive. It ranged from corporate income tax across-the-board reductions to four areas in particular I wouldn't mind talking about, if I could.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
We are getting a little bit tight on time, but you can just kind of - the highlights.

>>Tom Boone:
Sure. I will make it quick. The college Savings Plans we had $10 million. $3 million got in the final version of the budget, which is being voted out. What that money is for is to help the individuals in Arizona, the Residents of Arizona when they make contributions to their children's College Savings Plans, they actually get a deduction on the State Income Tax. That was a new thing, it was in the House version. We would like $10 million, we got three. We are glad we got three. We would like to get more, but we didn't. We had also money in there for retiree income exclusion for the Vets that retire here, and also for the state employees. We couldn't get that past the Governor either, nor the public school donations for the extra curricular fees and private schools also. We had money in for that, but didn't make it in either. We couldn't convince the Governor that that was important enough. So, next year.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
Exactly, and it's always a matter of going through these things. And lastly, you're thinking that you will be completely wrapped up probably by maybe Thursday, something like that?

>>Tom Boone:
That's correct. There is a great anticipation that we will finish this week. We are normally working through Thursday so hopefully the end of the day Thursday, we'll be finish.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
Alright, Representative Tom Boone, thanks very much for being here.

>>Tom Boone:
Thanks for inviting me.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
You bet.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
Every Monday evening, we feature two political experts going "One-On-One" on issues that affect the State. Tonight, talking about the budget, immigration, politics and more -- the GOP Spokesperson for the Arizona House of Representatives, Barrett Marson, and Political Consultant with Tequida and Gutierrez, John Loredo.

>>Barrett Marson:
So, John, good evening.

>>John Loredo:
Good evening.

>>Barrett Marson:
I don't know if you saw last week, but the white smoke did come from the Capitol and we now have a budget agreement between the House, the Senate, and the Governor. And today as we speak, they are starting to vote on it in the Senate and the House will do it tomorrow or sometime very soon. So, but, you know, there has been a lot of ruminations about what is in and out of the budget, but this is a budget that a lot of people still got the things that they wanted. Republicans got modest tax relief, and we got a 529 College Savings Program for the people out there to start saving for the college future, children's, grandchildren's college education.

>>John Loredo:
Sure.

>>Barrett Marson:
So, we are happy about that. I know that you are probably happy about the result as well.

>>John Loredo:
Sure, I think the 529 issue is something that everybody can support. But, you know, I think that at the end of the day, you really had kind of the Senate version with a couple of tweaks, and that's the way negotiations go. I think the reality is that the gap is kind of closed between Democrats and Republicans and there needs to be a new way of approaching these things in that you are not going to have a final version unless all of the caucuses are at the table talking to each other.

>>Barrett Marson:
You know, I don't know if I would say that the 529 Program was easy to support, not everyone supported. It was a real fight to get that in. This was deemed a tax cut for the rich by the people in the Democratic Party, and this was really aimed at the Middle Class.

>>John Loredo:
Not necessarily, I mean --

>>Barrett Marson:
Run on the floor when we did the tax cut package, the people, you know, the Democrats were calling the package aimed at the wealthy, and the 529 was a big part of that.

>>John Loredo:
Sure. And it is something that I think everybody is willing to support. What they weren't willing to support the $60 million proposal by the Republican caucus. They wind up getting 4 million of it.

>>Barrett Marson:
But $10 million of it was the 529 Program. $2,500 per person and $5,000 per married couple, and the $2,500 sort of represented what it would cost, $5,000 is what it would cost for a year at ASU or a state school, though it could be used at any school in the country.

>>John Loredo:
And there's victories to go all the way around. I mean, the Democratic side will say we held off for the vouchers. No new money for the vouchers in the State. No new money for the student -- the organizations. No more money on that. There were a lot of differences between the House version and Senate version and what we got out was the Senate version with a couple of tweaks, and that is something that everyone can support and hopefully the Governor will sign.

>>Barrett Marson:
Sounds like the Governor will sign it.

>>John Loredo:
OK, Barrett, next we have the outstanding issue this session of English Language Learners. We have the judge basically saying, "you have to take care of this problem by the end of session, or I'm going to hold you all in contempt". And you have the Legislature basically saying, "we are not going to do anything until we get a read, any word back from the appeal". So it is kind of like a standoff. It is a type of standoff that has happened the entire 16 years that this case has been in the courts. And any indication what is going to happen on that?

>>Barrett Marson:
First of all, there has been a lot of movement. Last year the legislature had a bill and the Governor eventually allowed it to become law that set up a Task Force to create models so that School Districts are following the same model instead of piecemeal and so these children will be taught English. It is very important that the children be taught English, but that doesn't necessarily mean it has to be done as expensively as possible as the judge wants it to be. So, we are now -- the Task Force is now creating those models that can be used in every School District around the State. And so while we have not addressed the judge's concerns and we are -- you know, the Legislature is appealing that decision. And so, there will be nobody in contempt, nobody is going to jail, so don't worry about that. I know you are worried about it.

>>John Loredo:
But the big issue is not the different models, the issue is you can create all the models you want to, but if you are not willing to pay for it -- that's what the court case is all about, you GOT to pay the money.

>>Barrett Marson:
And I believe the Legislature will pay the money once the models are created.

>>John Loredo:
Well, but it's a stalling tactic. You roll this back year after year after year, and there is always something else we are waiting for. There's always something else. We don't know the exact figure so we are waiting on NCSL to bring us the cost estimate. NCSL brings the cost estimate. It is too much, and we need to go back and figure out.

>>Barrett Marson:
But NCSL -- You know what? That organization said that its report was fundamentally flawed. They didn't even charge the Legislature for --

>>John Loredo:
And that was how long ago?

>>Barrett Marson:
About a year ago or so.

>>John Loredo:
How long does it take to do --

>>Barrett Marson:
Arizona had-- the Governor keeps vetoing the bills. The Legislature came up with a fix that has now gone to court and we are going through that process.

>>John Loredo:
And judge has said it is not going to meet -- it is not going to meet the muster.

>>Barrett Marson:
Those judges has been wrong before.

>>John Loredo:
Well, the legislature has been wrong more, and Tim Hogan has been right more on a number of cases, and it will be interesting to see whether or not the Legislature simply dies after the budget is done and see just kind of goes on to see what type of being held in contempt really means.

>>Barrett Marson:
Well, let's go on to an issue where the Legislature has been correct more often than not, and that is Illegal Immigration.

>>John Loredo:
[laughs] According to who?

>>Barrett Marson:
The Legislature is working on a final Employer Sanctions Bill. You know, Russell Pearce is one of the leading advocates of going after Illegal Immigrants and their employers, and we are in the final stages of crafting that plan. I think you will see that plan go forward. And that would say, if employers knowingly -- and that is the important part, knowingly -- hire illegal aliens or illegal immigrants, that they will face penalties for that.

>>John Loredo:
And knowingly is the key to this whole thing. Knowingly is the gigantic hole that you can drive a Mack truck through at the federal level. Knowingly has been nothing more than a loophole for employers to get out of any sanctions at all.

>>Barrett Marson:
But if you notice, only recently the feds have been starting to crack down. I don't know if they have the resources --

>>John Loredo:
There have only been a couple.

>>Barrett Marson:
There have been a couple high profile ones. It is easier to prove, you have to work at it. You just have to be willing to devote resources and time to work at it. Because they are getting hired --

>>John Loredo:
You can go to any construction site, you can go to any farm in the State, and you will bust all the people you need to bust. The issue is whether or not the Legislature is going to get real about this and create a type of penalty program that will actually stop people from hiring. And I just can't see the legislature --

>>Barrett Marson:
How about losing your business license? That is the Death Penalty.

>>John Loredo:
I can't see legislators biting the hand that feeds them.

>>Barrett Marson:
Losing a license -- the business license is the Death Penalty for the business.

>>John Loredo:
If there's no loophole for you to get through. That's the key. But Barrett, another issue that we have on the plate is the whole voucher issue that has been kicked around court, a recent ruling. What do you think?

>>Barrett Marson:
First of all, you mentioned there was no additional money for school choice in the budget. Well, first of all, we do have school of choice in higher education. But you know, it was an important victory for people who believe in having really good education, that good education doesn't stop at the Public Schools. And this is to allow foster kids and developmentally disabled kids to get specialized help at the private schools, where the public schools aren't -- can't do as good of a job. I mean, it's an important victory. It's a narrow victory, but an important one for people who support school choice, and people who want to see public schools better. When there is competition, public schools come up to meet that competition, and that is what school choice advocates have been saying for years. We look at Charter Schools. Charter Schools take away students from public schools, from traditional public schools and that really forces schools like the Mesa Public Schools to get better. How can we retain the students? We got to offer better programs. That is what school of choice advocates have been saying all along, and this is an important victory for them.

>>John Loredo:
The problem is, however, that it is public money for private places, private schools.

>>Barrett Marson:
That is not what the judge said. I mean that would have been an essential point.

>>John Loredo:
But the judge did not clarify why she made the decision that she did. She just said, "this is what I think and that is it". It was literally one paragraph of a decision. But the fact of the matter is that this voucher program is for anyone that has an individual improvement plan, it's not just developmentally disabled people. It is for anyone who has that plan. So the impact is still yet to be seen. But the real issue here is that, you know, at the very beginning of this, there was a request by the education community that the Supreme Court automatically take this up. They rejected that request and said you got to go through the lower courts--

>>Barrett Marson:
Absolutely.

>>John Loredo:
Regardless of whoever wins this thing at whichever level, it is going to wind up in the Supreme Court and that is where the decision will be made.

>>Barrett Marson:
You're absolutely right, and the people who want to block positive results for education will continue their fight, and the people who trying to make a change in public and private school are going to continue to win.

>>John Loredo:
The majority of the kids in the State are in the Public Schools so it is those Public Schools teachers and those Public School Board members, those are the real advocates for education. And the fact of the matter remains, I mean, if you are talking about programs for developmentally disabled students, the private schools are not the folks who spend their time catering to that type of student. So, we'll see what happens at the next level, and I'm sure whoever loses will bump it up to the next.

>>Barrett Marson:
But you know what the great thing is? The parents are making the choice in this. They are making the choice about what is best for their children.

>>John Loredo:
Well, and if public schools had the resources that they need, every parent would be able to make a good choice to send their kids to fully funded public schools.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
NASA reportedly has a theme for exploring Mars: Follow The Water. NASA's next mission to the Red Planet will take off in August. The Phoenix Mars Mission will explore the subsurface in the Martian arctic environment for the first time. NASA will partner with the Canadian Space Agency and the U niversity of Arizona. The U of A will be in charge of the science aspect of the mission. Earlier this evening, I spoke with Peter Smith, who's the principal investigator at the U of A Lunar and Planetary Lab.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
Peter, thanks very much for joining us. We appreciate your taking some time to be here. We want to start with having you tell us about the back story here. We know it was called the Phoenix Mars Mission and, of course, here in phoenix, we like to take ownership of that. But that's not exactly the real story. Why don't you fill us in?

>>Peter Smith:
Well, our mission actually capitalizes on the investment that NASA has made for the last 15 years, and we are using instruments and spacecraft that was developed for other purposes. And these parts came available for our mission, and we thought of it as kind of a resurrection, or rising from the ashes, so we called it Phoenix. I think that's the same logic that gave rise to the name Phoenix the city.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
absolutely. Well, so we will take that connection, even if it is not a direct one, and we appreciate it. Talk about the role that the U of A will play. You are really heading up the science portion of this mission, correct?

>>Peter Smith:
Actually, I'm not only in charge of the science, I'm in charge of the entire mission and I am sort of the peak of the pyramid. But the day-to-day management responsibilities are the Jet Propulsion Lab and the spacecrafts being developed at Lockheed Martin in Denver. And so, we have a triangular approach, using the best of each organization. Aerospace expertise from Lockheed Martin. Management and mission design from JPL, and science from the university.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
Very neat. And talk about what the -- once the craft reaches the Martian surface, talk about the specifics of what will happen and what you are hoping to find when you get there?

>>Peter Smith:
well, next May 25th, when our Phoenix Spacecraft lands on Mars -- and we're landing the old fashioned way with a propulsion system, not the air bags that have been used before -- when we land, the control will switch from the Jet Propulsion Lab to the University of Arizona --

>>Cary Pfeffer:
Wow.

>>Peter Smith:
-- and our Science Operations Center will start to actually operate the spacecraft on Mars to do the science that the mission is planning to do. And in order to do that, we are going to be on "Mars Time" here at the University so this is going to be quite a struggle for us.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
Yeah, you definitely are going to be out of your regular time zone connection there. The goal is to focus in on water as has been some -- you know, we have heard about that in the past but are there some specific differences that are connected with this mission?

>>Peter Smith:
Well, Mars is very cold at this part of its orbital cycle, and we expect to find only ice, but we know we are going to find ice because not only do we see Permafrost-like features in the northern plains, but the Odyssey Spacecraft has actually been able to see beneath the surface layers and see signatures of water ice in the polar regions. Our whole mission is about trying to understand whether the polar ice melts as Mars goes through its various orbital cycles.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
And how much of a challenge is it to get through? We think of thick ice and challenges of working in extremely cold temperatures. What kind of challenges are you facing there and how do you overcome some of those challenges?

>>Peter Smith:
Well, the ice on Mars is minus 100 degrees Celsius, which is extremely, cold as ice in the Antarctic, and it is hard when it gets that cold. It is almost as hard as granite. We will dig down to the ice, and then we have a sampling device called a "Rasp" that will allow us to take small samples of the ice, and our science instruments on the spacecraft will tell us whether the ice melted, what kind of minerals are associated with the ice, whether there are salts because if there was a wet environment, you might expect evaporations to leave salts behind. And finally, whether there's organic material there because one of our key goals is to see if this is a habitable region on Mars.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
And just the idea of trying to get through those, for example, extremely hard surfaces, how are you able to design something that is both light enough to be part of this spacecraft, but also efficient in trying to get through some of the materials that you are going to face on the Martian surface?

>>Peter Smith:
Well, Cary, this is really the challenge. We have to be cognizant of the mass limits for taking science instruments to Mars, and we've had to shrink and size the normal laboratory size instruments that we would use on the Earth. And in particular, the robotic arm has to be strong and thin. So we have a very capable arm that has been designed at a special place that built the arm for the MER Rovers that are still working on Mars, so we know that they can do a good job for us and we expect that our arm might actually be strong enough to move the lander if we pull against a rock.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
And when you are in this situation we have seen pictures from the surface, with this mission we be able to see some of those photos and tell us a little bit about how all of us at home might be able to experience what you are going to see?

>>Peter Smith:
Yes, the first picture you will see is one taken during the descent. And then over the next couple of days, you will start to see pictures of the surrounding Martian terrain taken from a human height above the surface with full color and even stereoscopic vision. So we should have wonderful pictures right away in the first few days of the mission. And as the mission goes on, we will actually start looking deeper and deeper into the actual soils and ices on the surface with microscopes and other instruments that we have to look at the finest grains of sand.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
And just as a last question because you always have to ask -- be asking -- be asked, rather, this question, connect what you are doing with this mission to other things that are going to be happening, how it has an impact on our knowledge of life in this Universe and that sort of thing?

>>Peter Smith:
Well, people have always been curious whether there is life on Mars. If you go back over history, you find times when people were convinced there were living organisms on Mars, and at other times convinced there weren't. At one of those times where we are going back again and taking a reexamination and see if Mars is the kind of place where life could survive. And in order for that to be the case, the first step is to find a source of liquid water, and the polar ice is a place where we can send the mission and get to that ice just beneath the surface and look at the ice soil boundary and really tell if that is a place where water has been in the liquid form. And then, we are going to look for organic materials, and that will tell us whether there is a food source or all the ingredients for building the bodies of living organisms. The one thing we don't know is could there be an entirely different type of life on Mars, and we don't know how to think about that ahead of time so we are on an exploratory mission.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
Alright, Peter, thank you very much for your time and good luck with the mission.

>>Peter Smith:
Thank you, Cary.

>>Merry Lucero:
Public health officials continue warnings about a Ground Beef recall because of concerns that repackaged meat by grocery stores may contain E. Coli, and the mining industry helped put Jerome on the map. Today, a popular tourist destination. Picturesque Jerome and its history Tuesday on "Horizon."

>>Cary Pfeffer:
Wednesday, we'll speak with Corporation Commissioner Kris Mayes about new renewable energy requirements. Thursday, a "Horizon" special edition will examine the issues that affect the military in Arizona. Friday, don't forget to join us for the Journalists' Roundtable.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
I'm Cary Pfeffer.
Thanks very much for watching. Have a great night.

>>Announcer:
If you have comments about "Horizon", please contact us at the addresses listed on your screen. Your name and comments may be used on a future edition of "Horizon".

>>Announcer:
"Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the Friends of Eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

Phoenix Mars Mission


  • An interview with Peter Smith, Ph.D., the principal investigator for the Phoenix Mars Mission. Smith is based at the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Lab.
Guests:
  • Tom Boone - House Majority Leader, Representative
  • Barrett Marson - GOP Spokesperson for the Arizona House of Representatives
  • John Loredo - Political Consultant, Tequida and Gutierrez
Category: Science

View Transcript
>>Cary Pfeffer:
Tonight on "Horizon" -- the latest on budget negotiations in the Legislature. Two political types go head to head on issues that affect Arizona in our regular Monday feature, "One-On-One". And the next mission to Mars will be a search for life -- next on "Horizon."

>>Announcer:
"Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the Friends of Eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
Good evening, and thank you for joining us tonight on "Horizon." I'm Cary Pfeffer. The Arizona Senate today is considering the budget compromise reached by the House and Senate last week. The House will consider it later in the week. The budget reportedly includes $11 million in tax cuts, considerably less than the House had wanted. Joining me now to talk about the negotiations with the Senate, and what we might expect in terms of a budget, the House Majority Leader, Representative Tom Boone. Tom, thanks for being here.

>>Tom Boone:
You're welcome. Thank you.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
This is a changing picture, and one that changes especially as those last minutes are reached, but tell us what you can about where it stands right now?

>>Tom Boone:
Absolutely. I think we are close to being finished. Today, just before I came down here about a half hour ago, the Senate Appropriations Committee did pass out the budget as it was agreed to. And they are currently in the Senate meeting the House Republican -- or I should say the Senate Republicans and the Senate Democrats are meeting separately to consider all the details, most of which they already know. And then, their intent is to come back this evening and take it to the preliminary vote on the floor, and also the final vote on the floor of the Senate, and then it'll be passed over to the House tomorrow.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
So, that is real progress in considering the long time that it takes to get here. And then, conceivably, this could be passed by the House, and on to the Governor's Office by the end of the day tomorrow?

>>Tom Boone:
It could be done by the end of the day tomorrow in the House. Assuming the Senate finishes their business tonight, which we have every indication that they will, the House should take it up tomorrow and should finish it tomorrow.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
And, Tom, let's talk about the big picture items. --

>>Tom Boone:
Absolutely.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
--that people would be interested in. Talking about a lot of money here, but let's talk about the details.

>>Tom Boone:
Sure.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
Why don't we hit education first because it gets a lot of attention?

>>Tom Boone:
Talk about K-12 first. There's about $325 million in new operating money for K-12. That's about, give or take, a little under 8\% over the prior year.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
So, an 8\% increase for K-12.

>>Tom Boone:
That's correct. Part of that is for growth in students, about 3\%, but the balance is new money per student. We set aside $120 million for new school construction because we are constantly building new schools for K-12.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
Right.

>>Tom Boone:
Part of the K-12 package is teacher pay. You probably heard a lot about that. There's $46 million set aside specifically for teacher pay. It's a little bit different than what the House version came out -- what we ended up with. The House version had $46 million, half of which we had for performance pay for teachers. In other words, it was linked to student achievement, but that we couldn't convince the Governor that that was important enough, so it didn't get in the final package. We do have -- it's a nice K-12 package. It's good for them. And the University's is a part of the education is the other part of that. They received about a 12\% increase over the prior year also, which included the funding for the planning, design, and second class for the Downtown Phoenix Medical Campus. So that is a huge thing, too. Transportation is coming out a winner also. About $562 million set aside over the next three years. $62 million this year. $500 million in the refinancing of taking the bonds to 30 years for transportation --

>>Cary Pfeffer:
Right.

>>Tom Boone:
And all that will be used to accelerate projects around the State for transportation.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
That is something that gets people's attention just because there has been so much discussion about the idea of speeding up some of these projects, and now there will be the money there to make sure it gets done.

>>Tom Boone:
Absolutely. And another big ticket area is, of course, corrections. And they were constantly behind trying to catch up on prison beds and prison facilities, and over the next two years, we have about 6,000 new beds in facilities being built as a result of the budget. Those are the big picture.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
Now, I know for the House side, you all had hoped for additional tax cuts that aren't ultimately in the package as it is looking now. Why don't you address that for me?

>>Tom Boone:
Absolutely. The House had about $64 million worth of tax relief, as we called it, and it was very comprehensive. It ranged from corporate income tax across-the-board reductions to four areas in particular I wouldn't mind talking about, if I could.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
We are getting a little bit tight on time, but you can just kind of - the highlights.

>>Tom Boone:
Sure. I will make it quick. The college Savings Plans we had $10 million. $3 million got in the final version of the budget, which is being voted out. What that money is for is to help the individuals in Arizona, the Residents of Arizona when they make contributions to their children's College Savings Plans, they actually get a deduction on the State Income Tax. That was a new thing, it was in the House version. We would like $10 million, we got three. We are glad we got three. We would like to get more, but we didn't. We had also money in there for retiree income exclusion for the Vets that retire here, and also for the state employees. We couldn't get that past the Governor either, nor the public school donations for the extra curricular fees and private schools also. We had money in for that, but didn't make it in either. We couldn't convince the Governor that that was important enough. So, next year.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
Exactly, and it's always a matter of going through these things. And lastly, you're thinking that you will be completely wrapped up probably by maybe Thursday, something like that?

>>Tom Boone:
That's correct. There is a great anticipation that we will finish this week. We are normally working through Thursday so hopefully the end of the day Thursday, we'll be finish.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
Alright, Representative Tom Boone, thanks very much for being here.

>>Tom Boone:
Thanks for inviting me.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
You bet.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
Every Monday evening, we feature two political experts going "One-On-One" on issues that affect the State. Tonight, talking about the budget, immigration, politics and more -- the GOP Spokesperson for the Arizona House of Representatives, Barrett Marson, and Political Consultant with Tequida and Gutierrez, John Loredo.

>>Barrett Marson:
So, John, good evening.

>>John Loredo:
Good evening.

>>Barrett Marson:
I don't know if you saw last week, but the white smoke did come from the Capitol and we now have a budget agreement between the House, the Senate, and the Governor. And today as we speak, they are starting to vote on it in the Senate and the House will do it tomorrow or sometime very soon. So, but, you know, there has been a lot of ruminations about what is in and out of the budget, but this is a budget that a lot of people still got the things that they wanted. Republicans got modest tax relief, and we got a 529 College Savings Program for the people out there to start saving for the college future, children's, grandchildren's college education.

>>John Loredo:
Sure.

>>Barrett Marson:
So, we are happy about that. I know that you are probably happy about the result as well.

>>John Loredo:
Sure, I think the 529 issue is something that everybody can support. But, you know, I think that at the end of the day, you really had kind of the Senate version with a couple of tweaks, and that's the way negotiations go. I think the reality is that the gap is kind of closed between Democrats and Republicans and there needs to be a new way of approaching these things in that you are not going to have a final version unless all of the caucuses are at the table talking to each other.

>>Barrett Marson:
You know, I don't know if I would say that the 529 Program was easy to support, not everyone supported. It was a real fight to get that in. This was deemed a tax cut for the rich by the people in the Democratic Party, and this was really aimed at the Middle Class.

>>John Loredo:
Not necessarily, I mean --

>>Barrett Marson:
Run on the floor when we did the tax cut package, the people, you know, the Democrats were calling the package aimed at the wealthy, and the 529 was a big part of that.

>>John Loredo:
Sure. And it is something that I think everybody is willing to support. What they weren't willing to support the $60 million proposal by the Republican caucus. They wind up getting 4 million of it.

>>Barrett Marson:
But $10 million of it was the 529 Program. $2,500 per person and $5,000 per married couple, and the $2,500 sort of represented what it would cost, $5,000 is what it would cost for a year at ASU or a state school, though it could be used at any school in the country.

>>John Loredo:
And there's victories to go all the way around. I mean, the Democratic side will say we held off for the vouchers. No new money for the vouchers in the State. No new money for the student -- the organizations. No more money on that. There were a lot of differences between the House version and Senate version and what we got out was the Senate version with a couple of tweaks, and that is something that everyone can support and hopefully the Governor will sign.

>>Barrett Marson:
Sounds like the Governor will sign it.

>>John Loredo:
OK, Barrett, next we have the outstanding issue this session of English Language Learners. We have the judge basically saying, "you have to take care of this problem by the end of session, or I'm going to hold you all in contempt". And you have the Legislature basically saying, "we are not going to do anything until we get a read, any word back from the appeal". So it is kind of like a standoff. It is a type of standoff that has happened the entire 16 years that this case has been in the courts. And any indication what is going to happen on that?

>>Barrett Marson:
First of all, there has been a lot of movement. Last year the legislature had a bill and the Governor eventually allowed it to become law that set up a Task Force to create models so that School Districts are following the same model instead of piecemeal and so these children will be taught English. It is very important that the children be taught English, but that doesn't necessarily mean it has to be done as expensively as possible as the judge wants it to be. So, we are now -- the Task Force is now creating those models that can be used in every School District around the State. And so while we have not addressed the judge's concerns and we are -- you know, the Legislature is appealing that decision. And so, there will be nobody in contempt, nobody is going to jail, so don't worry about that. I know you are worried about it.

>>John Loredo:
But the big issue is not the different models, the issue is you can create all the models you want to, but if you are not willing to pay for it -- that's what the court case is all about, you GOT to pay the money.

>>Barrett Marson:
And I believe the Legislature will pay the money once the models are created.

>>John Loredo:
Well, but it's a stalling tactic. You roll this back year after year after year, and there is always something else we are waiting for. There's always something else. We don't know the exact figure so we are waiting on NCSL to bring us the cost estimate. NCSL brings the cost estimate. It is too much, and we need to go back and figure out.

>>Barrett Marson:
But NCSL -- You know what? That organization said that its report was fundamentally flawed. They didn't even charge the Legislature for --

>>John Loredo:
And that was how long ago?

>>Barrett Marson:
About a year ago or so.

>>John Loredo:
How long does it take to do --

>>Barrett Marson:
Arizona had-- the Governor keeps vetoing the bills. The Legislature came up with a fix that has now gone to court and we are going through that process.

>>John Loredo:
And judge has said it is not going to meet -- it is not going to meet the muster.

>>Barrett Marson:
Those judges has been wrong before.

>>John Loredo:
Well, the legislature has been wrong more, and Tim Hogan has been right more on a number of cases, and it will be interesting to see whether or not the Legislature simply dies after the budget is done and see just kind of goes on to see what type of being held in contempt really means.

>>Barrett Marson:
Well, let's go on to an issue where the Legislature has been correct more often than not, and that is Illegal Immigration.

>>John Loredo:
[laughs] According to who?

>>Barrett Marson:
The Legislature is working on a final Employer Sanctions Bill. You know, Russell Pearce is one of the leading advocates of going after Illegal Immigrants and their employers, and we are in the final stages of crafting that plan. I think you will see that plan go forward. And that would say, if employers knowingly -- and that is the important part, knowingly -- hire illegal aliens or illegal immigrants, that they will face penalties for that.

>>John Loredo:
And knowingly is the key to this whole thing. Knowingly is the gigantic hole that you can drive a Mack truck through at the federal level. Knowingly has been nothing more than a loophole for employers to get out of any sanctions at all.

>>Barrett Marson:
But if you notice, only recently the feds have been starting to crack down. I don't know if they have the resources --

>>John Loredo:
There have only been a couple.

>>Barrett Marson:
There have been a couple high profile ones. It is easier to prove, you have to work at it. You just have to be willing to devote resources and time to work at it. Because they are getting hired --

>>John Loredo:
You can go to any construction site, you can go to any farm in the State, and you will bust all the people you need to bust. The issue is whether or not the Legislature is going to get real about this and create a type of penalty program that will actually stop people from hiring. And I just can't see the legislature --

>>Barrett Marson:
How about losing your business license? That is the Death Penalty.

>>John Loredo:
I can't see legislators biting the hand that feeds them.

>>Barrett Marson:
Losing a license -- the business license is the Death Penalty for the business.

>>John Loredo:
If there's no loophole for you to get through. That's the key. But Barrett, another issue that we have on the plate is the whole voucher issue that has been kicked around court, a recent ruling. What do you think?

>>Barrett Marson:
First of all, you mentioned there was no additional money for school choice in the budget. Well, first of all, we do have school of choice in higher education. But you know, it was an important victory for people who believe in having really good education, that good education doesn't stop at the Public Schools. And this is to allow foster kids and developmentally disabled kids to get specialized help at the private schools, where the public schools aren't -- can't do as good of a job. I mean, it's an important victory. It's a narrow victory, but an important one for people who support school choice, and people who want to see public schools better. When there is competition, public schools come up to meet that competition, and that is what school choice advocates have been saying for years. We look at Charter Schools. Charter Schools take away students from public schools, from traditional public schools and that really forces schools like the Mesa Public Schools to get better. How can we retain the students? We got to offer better programs. That is what school of choice advocates have been saying all along, and this is an important victory for them.

>>John Loredo:
The problem is, however, that it is public money for private places, private schools.

>>Barrett Marson:
That is not what the judge said. I mean that would have been an essential point.

>>John Loredo:
But the judge did not clarify why she made the decision that she did. She just said, "this is what I think and that is it". It was literally one paragraph of a decision. But the fact of the matter is that this voucher program is for anyone that has an individual improvement plan, it's not just developmentally disabled people. It is for anyone who has that plan. So the impact is still yet to be seen. But the real issue here is that, you know, at the very beginning of this, there was a request by the education community that the Supreme Court automatically take this up. They rejected that request and said you got to go through the lower courts--

>>Barrett Marson:
Absolutely.

>>John Loredo:
Regardless of whoever wins this thing at whichever level, it is going to wind up in the Supreme Court and that is where the decision will be made.

>>Barrett Marson:
You're absolutely right, and the people who want to block positive results for education will continue their fight, and the people who trying to make a change in public and private school are going to continue to win.

>>John Loredo:
The majority of the kids in the State are in the Public Schools so it is those Public Schools teachers and those Public School Board members, those are the real advocates for education. And the fact of the matter remains, I mean, if you are talking about programs for developmentally disabled students, the private schools are not the folks who spend their time catering to that type of student. So, we'll see what happens at the next level, and I'm sure whoever loses will bump it up to the next.

>>Barrett Marson:
But you know what the great thing is? The parents are making the choice in this. They are making the choice about what is best for their children.

>>John Loredo:
Well, and if public schools had the resources that they need, every parent would be able to make a good choice to send their kids to fully funded public schools.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
NASA reportedly has a theme for exploring Mars: Follow The Water. NASA's next mission to the Red Planet will take off in August. The Phoenix Mars Mission will explore the subsurface in the Martian arctic environment for the first time. NASA will partner with the Canadian Space Agency and the U niversity of Arizona. The U of A will be in charge of the science aspect of the mission. Earlier this evening, I spoke with Peter Smith, who's the principal investigator at the U of A Lunar and Planetary Lab.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
Peter, thanks very much for joining us. We appreciate your taking some time to be here. We want to start with having you tell us about the back story here. We know it was called the Phoenix Mars Mission and, of course, here in phoenix, we like to take ownership of that. But that's not exactly the real story. Why don't you fill us in?

>>Peter Smith:
Well, our mission actually capitalizes on the investment that NASA has made for the last 15 years, and we are using instruments and spacecraft that was developed for other purposes. And these parts came available for our mission, and we thought of it as kind of a resurrection, or rising from the ashes, so we called it Phoenix. I think that's the same logic that gave rise to the name Phoenix the city.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
absolutely. Well, so we will take that connection, even if it is not a direct one, and we appreciate it. Talk about the role that the U of A will play. You are really heading up the science portion of this mission, correct?

>>Peter Smith:
Actually, I'm not only in charge of the science, I'm in charge of the entire mission and I am sort of the peak of the pyramid. But the day-to-day management responsibilities are the Jet Propulsion Lab and the spacecrafts being developed at Lockheed Martin in Denver. And so, we have a triangular approach, using the best of each organization. Aerospace expertise from Lockheed Martin. Management and mission design from JPL, and science from the university.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
Very neat. And talk about what the -- once the craft reaches the Martian surface, talk about the specifics of what will happen and what you are hoping to find when you get there?

>>Peter Smith:
well, next May 25th, when our Phoenix Spacecraft lands on Mars -- and we're landing the old fashioned way with a propulsion system, not the air bags that have been used before -- when we land, the control will switch from the Jet Propulsion Lab to the University of Arizona --

>>Cary Pfeffer:
Wow.

>>Peter Smith:
-- and our Science Operations Center will start to actually operate the spacecraft on Mars to do the science that the mission is planning to do. And in order to do that, we are going to be on "Mars Time" here at the University so this is going to be quite a struggle for us.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
Yeah, you definitely are going to be out of your regular time zone connection there. The goal is to focus in on water as has been some -- you know, we have heard about that in the past but are there some specific differences that are connected with this mission?

>>Peter Smith:
Well, Mars is very cold at this part of its orbital cycle, and we expect to find only ice, but we know we are going to find ice because not only do we see Permafrost-like features in the northern plains, but the Odyssey Spacecraft has actually been able to see beneath the surface layers and see signatures of water ice in the polar regions. Our whole mission is about trying to understand whether the polar ice melts as Mars goes through its various orbital cycles.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
And how much of a challenge is it to get through? We think of thick ice and challenges of working in extremely cold temperatures. What kind of challenges are you facing there and how do you overcome some of those challenges?

>>Peter Smith:
Well, the ice on Mars is minus 100 degrees Celsius, which is extremely, cold as ice in the Antarctic, and it is hard when it gets that cold. It is almost as hard as granite. We will dig down to the ice, and then we have a sampling device called a "Rasp" that will allow us to take small samples of the ice, and our science instruments on the spacecraft will tell us whether the ice melted, what kind of minerals are associated with the ice, whether there are salts because if there was a wet environment, you might expect evaporations to leave salts behind. And finally, whether there's organic material there because one of our key goals is to see if this is a habitable region on Mars.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
And just the idea of trying to get through those, for example, extremely hard surfaces, how are you able to design something that is both light enough to be part of this spacecraft, but also efficient in trying to get through some of the materials that you are going to face on the Martian surface?

>>Peter Smith:
Well, Cary, this is really the challenge. We have to be cognizant of the mass limits for taking science instruments to Mars, and we've had to shrink and size the normal laboratory size instruments that we would use on the Earth. And in particular, the robotic arm has to be strong and thin. So we have a very capable arm that has been designed at a special place that built the arm for the MER Rovers that are still working on Mars, so we know that they can do a good job for us and we expect that our arm might actually be strong enough to move the lander if we pull against a rock.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
And when you are in this situation we have seen pictures from the surface, with this mission we be able to see some of those photos and tell us a little bit about how all of us at home might be able to experience what you are going to see?

>>Peter Smith:
Yes, the first picture you will see is one taken during the descent. And then over the next couple of days, you will start to see pictures of the surrounding Martian terrain taken from a human height above the surface with full color and even stereoscopic vision. So we should have wonderful pictures right away in the first few days of the mission. And as the mission goes on, we will actually start looking deeper and deeper into the actual soils and ices on the surface with microscopes and other instruments that we have to look at the finest grains of sand.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
And just as a last question because you always have to ask -- be asking -- be asked, rather, this question, connect what you are doing with this mission to other things that are going to be happening, how it has an impact on our knowledge of life in this Universe and that sort of thing?

>>Peter Smith:
Well, people have always been curious whether there is life on Mars. If you go back over history, you find times when people were convinced there were living organisms on Mars, and at other times convinced there weren't. At one of those times where we are going back again and taking a reexamination and see if Mars is the kind of place where life could survive. And in order for that to be the case, the first step is to find a source of liquid water, and the polar ice is a place where we can send the mission and get to that ice just beneath the surface and look at the ice soil boundary and really tell if that is a place where water has been in the liquid form. And then, we are going to look for organic materials, and that will tell us whether there is a food source or all the ingredients for building the bodies of living organisms. The one thing we don't know is could there be an entirely different type of life on Mars, and we don't know how to think about that ahead of time so we are on an exploratory mission.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
Alright, Peter, thank you very much for your time and good luck with the mission.

>>Peter Smith:
Thank you, Cary.

>>Merry Lucero:
Public health officials continue warnings about a Ground Beef recall because of concerns that repackaged meat by grocery stores may contain E. Coli, and the mining industry helped put Jerome on the map. Today, a popular tourist destination. Picturesque Jerome and its history Tuesday on "Horizon."

>>Cary Pfeffer:
Wednesday, we'll speak with Corporation Commissioner Kris Mayes about new renewable energy requirements. Thursday, a "Horizon" special edition will examine the issues that affect the military in Arizona. Friday, don't forget to join us for the Journalists' Roundtable.

>>Cary Pfeffer:
I'm Cary Pfeffer.
Thanks very much for watching. Have a great night.

>>Announcer:
If you have comments about "Horizon", please contact us at the addresses listed on your screen. Your name and comments may be used on a future edition of "Horizon".

>>Announcer:
"Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the Friends of Eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

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