Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

January 4, 2008


Host: Ted Simons

Journalists Roundtable

  |   Video
  • Ted Simons hosts HORIZON's weekly roundtable where local reporters get a chance to review the week's top stories.
Guests:
  • Amanda Crawford - Arizona Republic
Category: Journalists Roundtable

View Transcript
>>>Ted Simons:
It's Friday, January 4th, 2008. In the headlines this week, the employer sanctions law took effect this week. Latest on the state budget. The governor has a new plan to erase the shortfall, and we'll discuss how Senator John McCain did in Iowa. That's next on "Horizon."

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

>>>Ted Simons:
Good evening. I'm Ted Simons, and this is the journalists' roundtable. Joining me to talk about these and other stories are Amanda Crawford of The Arizona Republic, Mike Sunnucks of The Business Journal, and Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services. The employer sanctions law is not even a week old. It punishes those who hire illegal immigrants. Mike, we're talking four days in here. Anything collapse?

>>Mike Sunnucks:
The world is still a free market system. Capitalism is still alive here. Arpaio receiving calls on the immigrant hot line, probably see enforcement actions maybe next month. They will probably hold off until February. I think you will see them go after what the feds used to go after high profile things, construction sites, restaurants, sectors of businesses that employ a fair amount of undocumented folks. You go in and have a high profile rate. Back in the 90s, the feds used to do this, roll on to construction sites, go into restaurants, ask for IDs, and if they determine they are illegally documented, they --

>>Howard Fischer:
You will not have the roving teams that have the ability to come in. The first case that he takes, he will have the strongest case possible. No matter what Neal wake does later this month, there will be a new challenge when somebody is affected. He wants the strongest possible case to argue the constitutionality of this law. Not a marginal case, not somebody who might have a last name that might have gotten confused in the e-verify.

>>Mike Sunnucks:
They will go after big -- unregistered contractors, companies off the books to hire only illegals. They won't go after a small business with one person. They will go high profile, strong case, very public about it.

>>Ted Simons:
Is there any indication the phones are ringing and people are starting to complain, a slow ramp up?

>>Howard Fischer:
These calls were coming before the law took effect on January first. What has happened, many of the calls are anonymous. Maricopa County allows anonymous complaints. In Pima County -- we don't want people just say -- if you want to come in, give your name so you can give us background, evidence, as opposed to you ought to go check out the ABC Corporation, that's fine. Maricopa County will have a lot of stuff to weed through.

>>>Ted Simons:
New hires or those in the employ.

>>Howard Fischer:
Well, I think the first emphasis is on new hires to the extent they can. It is very clear, the way the law is written, while the system requires you to verify the legal status of new hires, it makes it illegal to employ someone knowingly who in fact is here illegally. The defense of a company, I can't go back and check people that I hired last year, two years ago, using this federal government e-verify system. It would be hard to prove knowing. I think they will go after people who are not using the e-verify system, make a good showing that this is a knowing violation. That is a high standard, criminal standard. If you want to convict somebody of murder, you have to show knowing or intentional. That is what we're talking about here.

>>Mike Sunnucks:
ICE has been promising big crackdowns, meat packing plants in the Midwest promising crackdowns in states like Arizona, I can see them coordinate this, going after the companies, illegal folks, federal level, violation of federal law to hire an illegal immigrant.

>>Ted Simons:
When the legislature gets back into session, what are they going to look at on this?

>>Amanda Crawford:
I'm not sure.

>>Howard Fischer:
The question of independent contractors, where do they fit in? There are bigger loopholes; this will be interesting as Amanda and I are at the capitol, other things that are coming up. It started 2004, prop 200 about denying services to people not here legally. In 2006 four more ballot measures approved. Russell Pierce wants to put more stuff on the ballot.

>>Amanda Crawford:
The most interesting, the one most controversial that Pierce is looking at is the one that denies citizenship to children of illegal aliens. This is a 14th amendment issue, constitutional issue; he knows that if it passes it will be challenged. It is putting -- drawing a line in the sand, these people are not supposed to be here, and anchor babies, jack pot babies, going after a federal issue.

>>Mike Sunnucks:
The republicans will get a couple of these immigration things on the ballot. Democrats at the disadvantage on this issue. You saw how Hilary and Obama fumbled on the question. If they get these things on the ballots, whether constitutional or not, turn out conservatives, and put pressure on democrats to answer those types of tough questions.

>>Howard Fischer:
More importantly, they will past -- if these measures make the ballot, people are frustrated. They know immigration is a federal issue. They recognize that. One of the measures Russell Pierce is talking about, if you are not here legally, you can't register a car. Sanctuary policies, that's what we have talked about around this table about phoenix, not asking about your legal status. People are frustrated. They know it is a federal issue, but given that congress is staffed by idiots, if you want to call it that, they will deal with the folks they know, which is lawmakers.

>>Amanda Crawford:
Illegal immigration, as we talked about with the sanctions law, a lot that people will have to weed through with the complaints because people are angry, upset, they will vote for these initiatives. They will call in complaints, frivolous complaints about illegal immigrants working at every Mexican restaurant where people have an accent.

>>Mike Sunnucks:
This -- if businesses start going back and asking their existing employees, are you here legally, that opens them up to discrimination lawsuits. Workers comp, if you are an illegal immigrant, you can qualify for that even if you are not on the payroll.

>>>Ted Simons:
The odds of them becoming real, whether by way of initiative, way of law, workers comp, does it have a chance?

>>Mike Sunnucks:
That will pass.

>>Howard Fischer:
No, I tell you why I disagree with that. The business community hates it. The essence of workers comp, no fault system. You are injured on the job, entitled to compensation, can't sue the employer. If you take illegals out of workers comp, you allow the illegals to sue the employer for the injury.

>>Mike Sunnucks:
That exposes the employer. The voters will pass it --

>>Howard Fischer:
The voters will pass it, but I don't think it will make the ballot. They will put three or four of them on the ballot. If they make the ballot, they will pass. Even the 14th amendment --

>>Amanda Crawford:
I'm not sure about the 14th amendment one. This is going to be struck down; wasting your time, there is little chance to stay up in the courts that is what a lot of people think. I don't know. It seems clear that some voters will understand this is in the constitution, the constitution is federal; this is the state.

>>Howard Fischer:
You can read the constitution -- none of us are lawyers, but we get to play one here on "Horizon." a citizen if you are born here and subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. That language as put in because the framers of the 14th amendment --

>>Amanda Crawford:
If you can be arrested by Sheriff Joe, aren't you subject to jurisdiction of the United States?

>>Howard Fischer:
Indians, who are off the reservation, are subject to jurisdiction of the United States and do not count as citizens. The case law on this is fairly old. I don't know what would happen. If you brought this to a judge in 2008 and made the argument, look, you know, the ninth circuit is a very strange circuit. I don't know what would happen if you took this case up on an interpretation --

>>Amanda Crawford:
We still have a Federal issue. Federal supersedence.

>>Mike Sunnucks:
This one they would go after children. The other ones, towards adults. Hopping the fence, coming over here and working or whatever as an adult. When you think about little kids born here, 14th amendment says they're citizens --

>>Ted Simons:
We will keep an eye on that. Immigration protest, center at 25th street and bell, I hear now -- closing this for a while or for good or what?

>> What's happened is that the owner of Pruitt's has decided he's no longer going to hire off duty sheriff's deputies, which he had done to keep the customers separated from the protesters. His argument is Salvadoreza said, if you get rid of the off-duty deputies I will stop the protests. At least this weekend they're doing a prayer vigil instead. -- You have the other issue --

>>Mike Sunnucks:
What's the difference between a prayer vigil and a protest?

>>Howard Fischer:
I think it will be further away. It is also quieter. You have a lot of anger about this day labor center on bell road. The argument is essentially an employment agency down the block that only employs people clearly here legally. Here is the interesting fact. It may be people who are hiring people out of the day labor center may be hiring people not here legally. It is not against the law. Casual labor is exempt under both federal and state law. If I hire somebody to trim my palms, I'm not breaking any law. This whole argument that everyone is breaking the law here, the people here illegally have broken the law to get here, but there is no state law being broke by these.

>>Mike Sunnucks:
Find businesses, car washes, landscape companies that have legal workers, Hispanic, white, whatever, come out and say I hire all legal workers, and I am at a disadvantage because this guy down the street hires illegal workers and pays them less. They would be well served to get examples of that. The perception is that all of these companies are hiring illegals.

>>Howard Fischer:
The judge said very clearly -- businesses saying horrible things will happen to us. He said you are missing a whole group of people who are not parties to this lawsuit. Illegal workers drive out legal workers in the bottom end of the pay scale, you are harming them and they need to be taken into account. The hearing on the 16th, the attorney for the businesses has an expert who will claim that, in fact, that getting rid of illegal workers actually hurts legal workers. Economists --

>>Mike Sunnucks:
Legal workers will raise wages. They depress wages because somebody can hire a landscaper or a car wash a lot cheaper, he is working under the table, not much say in what he gets paid.

>>Howard Fischer:
The counter-argument it raises the price of the strawberries and lettuce and everything else.

>>Mike Sunnucks:
Capital Media Services also.

>>Howard Fischer:
Let's move on. Governor releasing plans, GOP leaders in the legislature releasing ideas regarding the ever-expanding budget shortfall, what is the latest?

>>Howard Fischer:
You will love this. Neither plan realistic. The governor's plan released yesterday, first of all, $870 million in the hole, legislature thinks $970.

>>Amanda Crawford:
What's $100 million?

>>Howard Fischer:
The issue she wants to borrow money for school construction, $400,000. These are buildings you bought for them. Lawmakers say wait -- she wants to do what they call fund sweeps, taking money out of other unused funds. Actual spending cuts, other things deferring to future years.

>>Mike Sunnucks:
Spending cuts are much smaller than the legislature is talking about.

>>Amanda Crawford:
And she's also going after the rainy day fund, she wants to use that. It's time. We're struggling, that's what it is for, and she wants to use more of that than what legislative leaders want to use.

>>Howard Fischer:
That is the one common thing that came out today. This report, chairman of the budget committee, we will take money out of the rainy day fund, but we are not going to use what they call gimmicks. We are going to use real spending cuts. We started with a budget out of balance. The amount of money taken in from July first, June 30th is less than expenditures. We were counting on a cash carry forward from last year. It didn't happen. We started off with a structural deficit. They say they need to make real cuts. The real cuts they are talking about are draconian, 10\% to state universities. Reducing the kids care program that provides health care for the children of the working poor. We're talking about a freeze on new school construction, schools that haven't gotten started.

>>Mike Sunnucks:
One year freeze.

>>Howard Fischer:
One year freeze. Rolling back dental programs, programs for the blind.

>>Mike Sunnucks:
A lot of the cuts they have recently increased, medical center, stuff like that, stuff they raised in recent years, rolling back stuff they just raised. Ideological argument. Republicans want to see government as too big. Out of control. Cut spending. The governor does not want to cut spending, and so she is trying to defer --

>>Amanda Crawford:
I don't think it is she doesn't want to cut spending. The republican plan today, it's cutting health care for poor children, services to the blind, cutting -- what was the other one, help to poor women pregnant. These are things that the governor is going to say that I'm just not going to do.

>>Mike Sunnucks:
They are fairly small programs in the grand scheme of things.

>>Amanda Crawford:
Or just mean, mean spirited.

>>Mike Sunnucks:
Are democrats saying republicans are mean?

>>Amanda Crawford:
Sure.

>>Ted Simons:
How many things are there in the budget you can cut considering how many unfunded things there --

>>Howard Fischer:
That is the problem. State aid public education, basic increase in state aid about $4 billion that is constitutionally protected so that is off the table.

>>Amanda Crawford:
Access for the poor.

>>Howard Fischer:
The basic program off the table. You're not going to open the prison, that's off the table. Basic operations, universities, off the table. Nibbling around the edges here. We have given tax cut, individual taxes by 25\%, this legislature, prior legislature, cut individual income taxes by 10\%.

>>Mike Sunnucks:
The governor didn't sign off on those.

>>Howard Fischer:
And the suspension of the $250 million in property tax. The argument was this will jump-start the economy. I've got news for you. Look where the economy is.

>>Mike Sunnucks:
Look in previous years. We're still growing. We're not in a recession. Growth is flat, but it is still growing. Make the argument, economy, did pretty well. The property tax cuts will help attract businesses --

>>Amanda Crawford:
The whole thing is an ideological debate about where you put your tax dollars. Do you give them back as tax cuts every time there is a surge, you give tax cuts, or do you build programs? Increase government spending. When you are in a hard time, you have to look at that. Do you raise taxes, which is unpopular. Do you cut services to poor children, which is also unpopular.

>>Howard Fischer:
She is proposing smoking mirrors. Her argument, this is a temporary situation, and it will get better. I don't question it will get better. Will it get better the next fiscal year, the year after that. She sees it as a temporary problem. I'm with you, somewhere in the middle between temporary fixes and permanent cuts. You can't keep doing temporary fixes. Economists say things will get worse in Arizona before they get better. Our growth is flat, actually our growth in revenues is flat which is actually negative, more people coming here, sales tax collections are flat, which means everyone is paying less. Buying less. We are in deep trouble here.

>>Ted Simons:
You guys can meet in the middle. Can the governor and lawmakers meet on this or will this be a knock down, drag out from day one?

>>Amanda Crawford:
Always a knock down drag out, always end up somewhere in the middle. It will start at the starting line over here, and the governor knowing that they're not going to go for bonding, started the starting line over here. They have put out their farthest, you know, proposal in the hopes that they're going to get something that they want somewhere in here. I don't know. It's going to be hard, a long session, and all about the budget. There may be some Russell Pierce bills. This is what we're going to be talking about.

>>Mike Sunnucks:
This year they will do all of the gimmicks, smoking mirrors, and do the entire fund sweeps and moving the money around to fill the holes, they will do the rollover and all of that. Next year is when -- if the economy is still struggling, they won't have those options.

>>Howard Fischer:
That's the problem. What Russell Pierce and Bob Burns the head of the house and senate probes committee put out today, they said let's save the fund sweeps, let's save the gimmicks until next year. At this point, we're talking about being like 900 to a billion in the hole. Next year $1.7 billion deficit out of a $10.6 billion budget. There ain't a lot of places to cut folks.

>>Amanda Crawford:
I will object to the smoke and mirrors gimmicks -- bonding for school construction, one of the governor's big pieces of the puzzle as a gimmick. We bond for transportation, university buildings, and other --

>>Mike Sunnucks:
If you bond -- pay for cash -- pay for cash or if you bond, you pay almost twice as much if you bond in the end.

>>Amanda Crawford:
My mortgage, too.

>>Howard Fischer:
But you're both missing the point. The point is not so much you pay more.

>>Mike Sunnucks:
We're always missing the point.

>>Howard Fischer:
You particularly. Here is the problem, building 30 new schools this year. Next year we will build 30 new schools. If every year you bond, at some point your debt service for that 400 million every year will equal what it would be to pay cash and exceed it. Somewhere along the line something has to give. If you start down that road to bonding now, and bond for $400 million every year. That's the difference between building a house. You don't buy a new house every year --

>>Amanda Crawford:
It says we're not going to build schools for a full year. The bottom line with all of this that is driving everything that we're talking about is the growth of this state. We can't ignore it. The growth is increasing prison costs, health care costs, school care.

>>Howard Fischer:
But once all the illegals leave, it will be fine. One out of every seven people may be illegal.

>>Mike Sunnucks:
The proposal -- tax increases, liberal democrats in the legislature who have no power propose that, but the governor is not talking about that. That will be a fight for next year.

>>Amanda Crawford:
This is a campaign year, and everyone has future aspirations, and so that's going to shape everything that they do this year.

>>Mike Sunnucks:
She's been very smart. She's never going to propose a tax increase while she's in office.

>>Ted Simons:
This is a campaign year as you mentioned. Arizona senior senator didn't expect to do all that well, still alive, and now it is on to New Hampshire.

>>Mike Sunnucks:
He is leading in New Hampshire. He is neck and neck with Romney. There is a poll that came out nationally that has him barely ahead of Huckabee and Giuliani nationally. What helped McCain was Pakistan and Iraq. Consistent on the surge. The war is unpopular; he was consistent on the surge. It has worked there a little bit. Things are better, not great. Pakistan, the assassination of Bhutto in republican voters' minds brought security and experience to the forefront. Who do you want dealing with Iran, Syria, Pakistan, Mike Huckabee, maybe not? Mitt Romney -- McCain does. So, I think he has benefited from that from republican voters. He has a chance in New Hampshire. It could be a spring-board, or he could win or do well in New Hampshire and fizzle out.

>>Amanda Crawford:
New Hampshire will be a barometer. Mitt Romney coming in second in a state where he spent as much as he did in Iowa, that is more surprising, and Fred Thompson and Giuliani being completely at the bottom of the barrel, that's interesting too.

>>Howard Fischer:
That's the key. Fun part about analyzing these things. It isn't where you finish. It is where you finish compared to where your advisor said you would finish. If you low ball your expectations, as McCain did, I came in sort of third, fourth with Fred Thompson, hey, I've won. New Hampshire, as you pointed out, is a different thing. He needs to do at least second in New Hampshire. First would be better. If he does second in New Hampshire, he needs to win South Carolina; otherwise he ain't going to make it to Arizona. If he doesn't win New Hampshire or South Carolina, he is gone.

>> Mike Sunnucks:
What kind of bounce Huckabee gets out of Iowa. People are looking at him. Evangelicals came out hard for him, voted in droves for him in Iowa. He is folksy, populous, different kind of republican. Socially conservative, maybe not so much on social issues and immigration. People like his personality. He has the same appeal that Obama has on the democratic side.

>>Ted Simons:
How do you think McCain does in New Hampshire?

>>Mike Sunnucks:
I think he wins.

>>Ted Simons:
Think so?

>>Amanda Crawford:
I think so.

>>Howard Fischer:
I will predict a second place finish.

>>Ted Simons:
To?

>>Howard Fischer:
To Romney. I think Romney; a, with the money; b, he is from Massachusetts, neighboring state, and I don't know if the Mormon issue plays as well there. In a place like Iowa with a lot of evangelicals who will never vote for a Mormon, there will be a problem. I think New Hampshire he does better.

>>Ted Simons:
We will stop it right there. Thanks very much.

>>Mike Sauceda:
Every year three local journalists get together to predict the events for the coming year and review from the previous year. Join us in a half hour filled with information and entertainment. The journalist's year in review Monday at 7:00 on "Horizon."

>>>Ted Simons:
Tuesday, we take a look at the 50th anniversary of the Heard Museum. Wednesday, a preview of the New Hampshire primary, and Friday we'll be back with another edition of the journalists' roundtable. Coming up, inside the mud slinging and smear tactics of the 2008 race. That's next on "Now." I'm Ted Simons. Have a great weekend.

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