Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

February 20, 2008


Host: Ted Simons

Governor Napolitano

  |   Video
  • Governor Janet Napolitano joins us for her monthly appearance to talk about issues at the Legislature, the budget and the presidential race.
Guests:
  • Janet Napolitano - Governor of Arizona
Category: Governor Visit

View Transcript
>> Ted Simons:
Hello and welcome to "Horizon." I’m Ted Simons. Republican legislative leaders have proposed a plan to make up for a shortfall in this year's budget. They would rely heavily on the state rainy day fund, would take excess funds from state agencies, make cuts to state agencies, and save money with a temporary stop on school construction. However, the plan is not being supported by Governor Janet Napolitano. She wants to bond for school construction. Here to talk about that and other legislative issues is Arizona governor Janet Napolitano.

>> Ted Simons:
Good to see you again.

>> Janet Napolitano:
Good evening.

>> Ted Simons:
The pace of negotiations, both sides are not happy with budget negotiations and the fact that it seems like it is dragging. What are you seeing?

>> Janet Napolitano:
It is going too slow. There is a sense of let's get it done, let's get the '08 budget back in balance because we have '09 ahead of us. The plan you talked about, supported by some republicans, although not by all, one of its major flaws is it doesn't look at '09 and '08, and if you deplete the rainy day fund in '08 as they will have us do, we are left with a serious situation in '09. In contrast, the plan I have manages our way through both years, a downturn that will last at least that long. Allows us to keep building schools, protect our fundamental investments education services for vulnerable populations and not raise taxes. That's where we need to be going, and we need to be proceeding in a bipartisan way. So, you know, we kind have taken a step backwards, but we will get the appropriation process behind us and get down to serious discussion.

>> Ted Simons:
There is the image that there are two trains on separate tracks here. Legislature, rank and file, appropriations committee in one direction, and meanwhile, bipartisan efforts, leaders, and the governor's staff on another track. Is that an accurate representation?

>> Janet Napolitano:
In an ideal world, the appropriations process would be more bipartisan, would take information and look at data and work off of what the recommendations are. This is not the way that it has been working in Arizona the last few years, appropriations is very far removed from anything that realistically deals with how we reach an agreement on the budget which must be bipartisan, and, again, the important thing is we can manage our way through '08 and '09 but if we deplete the rainy day fund as they suggest in o8 we have nothing left in 09 we need to plan for both years in that regard, otherwise in '09, we're left with a budget that would require major cuts to school construction -- but you stop school construction for two years. What does that mean? Our population continues to grow. Larger class sizes, all things that don't need to happen in this situation. We can manage our way through this. Not raise taxes, use our rainy day fund, but spread it out over time, and a key factor here, among others, and there are other things that we can employ, but a key factor is to be sensible and economically rational. And to be economically rational right now means you don't pay cash for building a building.

>> Ted Simons:
numerous times we have had lawmakers and legislators on the program, and a consistent message I’m hearing from the republicans, and we have the numbers right here, in the past three years, state spending up 14%, but the population and inflation only up 6%. They're saying those numbers don't match.

>> Janet Napolitano:
They’re just wrong about that. They're mixing apples and oranges. You have to look at not just overall population growth, but what about enrollment growth in k-12. They have to go to school. We have to build the buildings, hire the teachers. Enrollment on access, those numbers have gone up and we are mandated by voter initiative to provide health care for those folks. Prison population has gone up. 35,000 inmates, plus, when I began as governor, I think we had 25,000, maybe 27,000, that range. They're not telling me to release anybody from the prisons. They have to be paid for. They're glossing over what really has happened. What really has happened is in the areas where state government has the primary role, public education, health care, and prisons, and then we add on the universities, all of those populations have gone up, and the cost, for example, health care costs obviously have gone up, even though our state Medicaid program viewed as one of the five best managed in the country.

>> Ted Simons:
I know that your position is that we're going to get out of this and it is not going to last forever, if we can just manage our way through this everything eventually will work out. However, the last time you were on the program, from then until now, the projections forward, the deficits continue to grow. How difficult is it to get that message across when it seems like by the month the numbers get worse?

>> Janet Napolitano:
I revised my budget last Thursday, released the revised numbers for '08 reflecting that. And we understand that. I understand that. But as the budget gets worse, my plan or the plan that I have put forward which requires spending cuts, fund sweeps, in other words, taking almost $300 million I propose out of existing funds and putting it into our general fund, and looking at other issues, including bonding for school construction. If you add all of those things together, and then take some from the rainy day fund but leave some for '09 and possibly for '10, since we don't know when the end of this exactly is going to be, that is a balanced way to get through this and it allows us to protect k-12 spending, allows us to keep building schools, to protect our universities, allows us to add more D.P.S., department of public safety and child protective service workers, two areas where we have dramatic and demonstrated need. They have had the plan since September. It is time for the appropriators to get done. Their plan is not going to be the plan to pass the legislature and get to my desk. We need to get something that can get 16 votes in the senate, 31 in the house and up to me.

>> Ted Simons:
A couple of more things on the budget. A lot of viewers hear about, read about, but not sure how it works. Talk about formula-driven spending. What does it mean?

>> Janet Napolitano:
It means that we calculate per pupil in school. They get -- each school district gets per pupil x-amount of dollars. That is a formula. It is usually -- it is measured on the 100th day of the school term. That's the number. And then there is an inflation factor, and then depending on the number of special categories, special ED children, E.L.L. children, there is a bump for those kids. It all plugs in. That is formula driven. We know based on population what those numbers are likely to be. Same as with access. Access is our state Medicaid program, required by voter initiative to cover certain populations of people, up to the federal poverty line. So, that's a number. You plug it in, and we -- we contract with vendors. We know what the cost is going to be. That becomes the number. Formula, well, we know what it costs on average for an inmate in the state prisons, and so if you have 35,000 inmates as opposed to 27,000 inmates, that's a larger number and you plug it in. That doesn't mean we don't look to save costs. It doesn't mean that we're not always looking to really have an efficient prison system, health care system. As I said, but at a certain point, these things are not really within the discretion of the legislature, nor of the executive. There are certain things that have to be met, part of being a state.

>> Ted Simons:
would you like to see things that are not mandated, would you like to see less emphasis on the formulas?

>> Janet Napolitano:
It would be nice to have greater discretion of a greater part of the budget. When you hear we should balance the budget with spending cuts that is a misleading thing to say. What they're not telling you is you can only do that with a very small percentage of the budget. The biggest unallocated discretionary part of the budget is higher education, that's not really formula driven. In our state, try to grow the economy, prepare the work force for the 21st century, it makes no sense to slash and burn at the university level. We should be investing there. Drive us forward, think of Arizona not for this two or three year bump in our economic progress but long term and that is what I think we're emphasizing to the people of Arizona. The people of Arizona get this. It is the legislature that needs to get through their process and get to the table with real numbers and a vision of the future.

>> Ted Simons:
Another phrase we keep hearing, fund sweeps. What are we talking about regarding funding sweeps?

>> Janet Napolitano:
a fund sweep -- here is what the state government is a multi-billion dollar entity with numerous accounts held by different agencies, and many agencies don't spend all of the moneys in every account every year. Sometimes the accounts get replenished. They're paid for by fees for example, even if you take the end of the year balance, you are still going to have new money coming in because fees can be paid and so forth. When we talk about fund balances, sweeping fund balances, what we're talking about, going in account by account and finding out what hasn't been swept, taken, and take it out of that account and put it into the general fund so that it can be used for k-12, access for prisons, three big areas of state spending.

>> Ted Simons:
Let’s move from the budget. Let's talk about something that involves the budget to a certain degree. Photo radar.

>> Janet Napolitano:
Some in the legislature --

>> Ted Simons:
Some in the legislature --

>> Janet Napolitano:
Let’s be very careful. These things get blown up, all you're talking about is a few isolated committee hearings and nothing has gone to the floor of either chamber.

>> Ted Simons
Their major concern, and I’ve heard this on more than one occasion, the governor's program, revenue first, safety second. Your response.

>> Janet Napolitano:
I think that is just a label. The plain fact of the matter, last year we did a pilot project in Scottsdale for photo radar and it was successful. This technology augments public safety officers, frees them up to focus on more serious violators and allows us to increase law enforcement and safety on our highways as we build more and more lane miles and add more and more population. It is a good pairing. I said last year, successful experiment. We're going to go statewide. This year because the plan is to go statewide, we took the most conservative number, what number of fines that would generate and we plugged them into the budget. In a deficit year that is nice to have. We would have done it if we were in a surplus. To use the photo radar, it impacts the number of overall speed, number of severity accidents, to augment officers on the street.

>> Ted Simons:
Why do you think some lawmakers are so against this?

>> Janet Napolitano:
My view is if you don't want to pay a speeding ticket, don't speed. This is a common sense way to improve safety, and by the way, we have increased public safety costs. We're adding -- we've added hundreds of lane miles of new freeway in the last few years. We are projected to add new lane miles in the next few years. And to have -- to increase safety we have to add not only D.P.S. officers, we can augment them with cameras. A common sense thing to do.

>> Ted Simons:
if we have a lawmaker on the program saying there are no studies, state or federal, showing that speeding, excess speed causes crash, increases the severity, perhaps, but he is saying there are no studies, is he wrong there are no studies that show excess speed causes crashes?

>> Janet Napolitano:
I don't know who you had on and how to respond to that. Of course if you see somebody speeding, trying to get out of the way and what have you, you increase the risk of crash and severity of crashes.

>> Ted Simons:
Toll roads, another idea seeming to gain speed in the legislature. Your thoughts.

>> Janet Napolitano:
I am not in favor of toll roads or converting existing roads to toll roads. They weren't built for that purpose and to me that is not a good way to go. We have to look at overall transportation for our state for the next decades. This needs to include road and rail and multiple transportation modalities, transit in our cities. There my mind is open to thinking about some toll road additional possibility so long as you are not converting existing road and people always have a way to get from point a to point b. As a transportation option for future construction, I would think about it, but what the legislature, a few of the legislators are looking at is converting existing H.O.V. lanes to toll roads, and I am not in support of that.

>> Ted Simons:
Because it basically takes the idea of car pooling straight out the window.

>> Janet Napolitano:
It does. I think we have other uses for the H.O.V. lanes.

>> Ted Simons:
can there be a public private deal involved here? Can you tip toe toward that end? As you mentioned maybe new roads. That still is a possibility as far as you are concerned.

>> Janet Napolitano:
My mind is open. The key thing that needs to happen, this legislature, by March, will have a critical need study for road improvements Arizona long term. How do we have a statewide system of transportation corridors and how do we plug rail into that? They need to schedule hearings, look at an overall imprint for the long term future. It is a perfect project for them to take on in the midst of a budget deficit. Why? While we're dealing with this year and next year's budget issues they can be thinking long term, but what do we need to be investing on in the future. That's what I’m asking the legislature to do

>> Ted Simons:
Let’s move on to an idea that seems to be gaining steam. I know you have serious thoughts on this as well because the federal government has thrown their weight behind something -- let's start with the H2A visas first --

>> Janet Napolitano:
H2A visa is a program allowed for agricultural workers. And one of the problems that we have with the failure of federal immigration reform is a severe shortage of agricultural workers; we are seeing it particularly in the southern areas of our state, the Yuma area for example. The program has become incredibly complex, expensive, unworkable, and nobody really uses it. It is there. It can be used. It can be targeted, focused to allow workers to come back and forth as they do, come over, work during the day, go home overnight. Come with the right documents, we know where they're going, how long they're entitled to stay. There are 12 federal and state agencies that have to sign off on an h2A program for a grower. The secretary of labor has within her power the ability to streamline that. I have written her with my ideas on how she could do that. I will meet with her in Washington D.C. on Monday to further that. I have offered up our own Arizona as a pilot because I think we could make something work here.

>> Ted Simons:
How would you respond to the criticism that all this does is keep Americans out of jobs A and, B keep wages low for those jobs?

>> Janet Napolitano:
Well, A, there is a worker shortage. We have a demonstrated labor shortage in agricultural area. And, B, my proposals require that wage protections be in place, health protections be in place, and in other words, these workers are not coming over here to lower the wage level. They're coming over here to work at a wage level, commensurate with American competition, and filling jobs that we simply don't have enough American citizens to do.

>> Ted Simons:
compare and contrast that now with what is making its way around the legislature, the idea of a state temporary workers program.

>> Janet Napolitano:
This is a bill being cosponsored by Senator Marsha Augsburger -- I believe their bill is restricted to immigrants from Mexico or the h2a would not be so restricted. I think it has potential. We will see how it goes. All of this is an effort in Arizona to do the right thing on immigration, to have a pool of -- to work on having legal workers in our state that we need and then to enforce the law against those who continue to hire illegally. And with the failure of the federal government to really deal with immigration reform, the states have been left to their own. Arizona is actually being, I think, the most forward of the states.

>> Ted Simons:
Do you think the city of phoenix has done the right thing regarding this, the police order, the panel that recommended some changes, what are your thoughts on what the panel recommended and where that goes from here?

>> Janet Napolitano:
Yeah, I think the panel did a good job. It is a very experienced panel. I know the members of it very well. They're all law enforcement based. They know the system. They know what is out there. I thought they came out with some clear guidance to police officers in our city. We will see how it goes. I thought they did a very good job.

>> Ted Simons: Also regarding immigration, E.L.L., and one of our viewers has written in with a question. She writes governor Napolitano teach Arizona’s future teachers. One of their greatest concerns is English language learners in their classrooms. It appears that E.L.L. instruction is varied from district to district. In some districts, the immersion policy is applied, in other districts a program in which English language learners are given English instruction four hours in the morning and in the afternoon the students work in the subject area. Is there a universal E.L.L. program in Arizona? What are the funding issues? What advice would you give to these future teachers?

>> Janet Napolitano:
I would say stick with it. E.L.L. is a huge need for us. About 15% of our k-12 students come from non-English speaking families. We need to get them conversant in English as soon as possible. Now there are different programs, immersion is supposed to be the model, but even in there are variations. There was a task force that was established that has made recommendations for a statewide model on E.L.L. I think it has a lot of problems associated with it. I think it comes very close to really violating a lot of laws for equal protection and the like. Got to look at that. That is in process. Your students will want to know about that. We are all waiting for rulings from the courts about what to do on funding.

>> Ted Simons:
Let’s move on here. Same sex marriage ban. Your thoughts on this again going to the voters.

>> Janet Napolitano:
Well, again, you know, in my view, marriage is between a man and a woman. They're going to try again to get some voters. This is a legislature that has been in session since the beginning of January. We have a billion dollar plus deficit to cure in '08, a billion dollar plus deficit to cure in '09. This is the stuff that they ought to be focused on. We need a statewide transportation plan. Where are the hearings scheduled for that? This little -- not nit picky, not the right word, wedge issue design, seen time and time again, doesn't help us advance the ball on the things they must do this session.

>> Ted Simons:
Do you see this as a wedge issue?

>> Janet Napolitano:
I think it is being used as a wedge issue. And that's unfortunate. Look, I think if we get into talking about the presidential -- I think one of the reasons why senator Obama has been so successful is he is saying look, we need to get beyond some of these things. I would be happy to sit down with legislators and say, okay, let's talk -- here are needs on rail, this is going to have to go to the voters, work with me. Let's get something together. Same with the budget. I'm willing to sit down with leadership, the appropriations process is done. Hasn't come up with a good result -- and we're going to need that rainy day fund next year.

>> Ted Simons:
You just mentioned the presidential race, and barrack Obama seems to be doing awfully well these days.

>> Janet Napolitano:
Having a good run.

>> Ted Simons:
would you be interested in a cabinet position in the Obama administration?

>> Janet Napolitano:
I’m a governor. My interest is doing the best I can for the people of Arizona.

>> Ted Simons:
Your thoughts on super delegates. This has been a pretty big topic of conversation. Maybe they won't be so much of a factor but right now they are. Your thoughts on the idea of super delegates.

>> Janet Napolitano:
I am a super delegate -- the highest elected democrat is automatically a super delegate, members of congress, are super delegates -- the idea to have a certain number of people at the convention who have an ongoing role in the party as opposed to an episodic contained to one presidential election to the next, the next, the next. There is some sense to it. Now, this year, because of the closeness of the race between Clinton and Obama, they assume perhaps a more pivotal role. I suspect by the time we get to April, may, if it looks like one or the other candidate is going to have a majority of elected pledge delegates going to the convention, and that those unpledged supers are going to be for the most part unwilling to override that.

>> Ted Simons:
Are we going to see senator Obama, provided he does get the nomination, will we be seeing him much in Arizona considering his likely opponent will be the senior senator?

>> Janet Napolitano:
I think it is impossible to say where he is going to go. Those decisions are made sometimes on a snap basis. I will say this. I think that even though our senior senator is going to be the republican nominee, I congratulate him for that. It has been a hard fight, a long one. I would not take Arizona for granted.

>> Ted Simons:
as far as the nominating process, primary, presidential preference election as I’m told it is supposed to be described, if that were held today, different results?

>> Janet Napolitano:
I think so. I think we would have had a longer time. I obviously didn't endorse to just a week or two out, a couple of weeks out of our primary. We didn't have the structure in place. I think between that and the whole momentum around the country, and the fact that the more people see of Obama, the more they like him. And they would have had another month's worth of exposure to senator Obama. I think it very well could have had a different result. The plain fact of the matter, hey, it didn't. Arizona's delegation goes -- I think it is 31-25, something like that, that's the will of the people who voted on the 5th of February. Whatever that ultimately is the result of the convention, I doubt it. It seems to me that senator Obama now has the upper hand.

>> Ted Simons:
Very good. Thank you for joining us.

>> Janet Napolitano:
Thank you.

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