Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

March 19, 2008


Host: Ted Simons

Governor Napolitano

  |   Video
  • The state budget shortfall continues and state lawmakers are in the midst of working on big issues such as immigration reform. Hear what Governor Janet Napolitano has to say about those issues and more in her monthly appearance on HORIZON.
Guests:
  • Janet Napolitano - Governor of Arizona
Category: Governor Visit

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Tonight on "Horizon," is the sky falling in regards to the state budget? State treasurer Dean Martin says it is. The governor says no and calls him Chicken Little. The governor breaks out her veto stamp for a state spending and hiring freeze. Also, hear what the governor has to say about Barack Obama's speech on race. All that and more as we talk to the governor, next, on "Horizon."

Ted Simons:
Hello and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. State treasurer Dean Martin says we'll be out of cash by next month. But the governor says he's just being a "Chicken Little." However, there is still no solution to this year's state budget shortfall. Barack Obama gives what some are calling a speech of a lifetime on race. And the governor breaks out her veto stamp for the first time this session. Here to talk about that and more is Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano. Governor, good to see you again.

Janet Napolitano:
Good to see you.

Ted Simons:
The treasurer says we will run out of money. First of all, is he correct? And second of all, what happens if the state runs out of money?

Janet Napolitano:
He's not correct. He's making presumptions on what state agencies are doing that are inaccurate. He doesn't have that kind of information. Secondly, that's why the legislature and I have been meeting over the past couple of days, really working through this really difficult budget issue. It requires a solution and not a press conference. We are working toward that end. It needs to be bipartisan and comprehensive.

Ted Simons:
Wasn't it irresponsible by saying that the state could run out of money?

Janet Napolitano:
I don't know what he was going to accomplish. Do we have a budget deficit? Yes. Is that new? No. Did he offer something positive to solve it? No. Were his facts accurate? No. I think what he successfully did was he had a press conference and my weekly press briefing was after it. I responded by saying we won't solve it by running around and creating deadlines. We have a problem concerning '08 and 09. It requires cuts and discipline and tools at our disposal and bonding for construction. The legislature had plans for months from me on how to balance 2008 and 2009. We just need to finish up the work that's begun.

Ted Simons:
How are talks going between you and legislative leaders? Before we ask you that, why did you decide to do what you did to these things?

Janet Napolitano:
First the legislature had to get ready to get going and wanted to go to the process and that took weeks and weeks talking with members and so forth. I've been ready to meet and talk when they felt prepared to start negotiating. That wasn't until the end of last week. We've begun. We met several times. We'll meet again tomorrow and then we'll start going through it consistently. But this is March. And, you know, we have a ways to go but the talks so far I think have been done in very good faith. Everybody's been giving some and understanding the severity of the issue.

Ted Simons:
We are hearing criticism that the governor is not giving enough information or what kind of spending cuts she would be agreeable to or what kind of spending cuts she's talking about. Respond.

Janet Napolitano:
I'm not negotiating my budget to the press. That's where the criticism is coming from. I will negotiate with leadership and I've done that and will keep doing that. They have and have had lots of numbers in front of them. I think this is inside baseball. The fact of the matter is to resolve the budget crisis it will require myself and legislature to agree on a comprehensive budget program for 2008 and 2009. It has to have spending cuts and bonding for school construction and a K-12 rollover, a mechanism we have used before. Combine all of those things and other things in a fiscal toolbox, we can balance 2008 and 2009 even in the midst of revenue numbers that continue to go down.

Ted Simons:
Those revenue numbers do continue to go down and the economy is a major source of concern for lots of folks. We are hearing recession more so than in the past few months. Some are saying your ideas with regards to the budget sees a future that's far rosier than some are predicting. Again respond.

Janet Napolitano:
Well, I think we need to think what is the long-term future of Arizona? We ought to use this downturn as an opportunity to see what we need to be investing in and recognizing that we have slowed. We are still growing. We deal with education and transportation and other things that set Arizona up well for the long-term. If we do that in the context of this budget, we will have made smart decisions.

Ted Simons:
Veto a hiring freeze and spending freeze. Why did you veto it?

Janet Napolitano:
It was unnecessary and untimely. It would not have taken affect until 90 days after session and I've already directed the agencies on virtually spending freeze. Universities and judiciary are doing the same. It was unnecessary and untimely and not comprehensive. What I've said the legislature was don't send up the budget piecemeal send up the whole thing.

Ted Simons:
Was that the same thing for the hiring freeze? It wasn't comprehensive.

Janet Napolitano:
It wasn't comprehensive or bipartisan. Symbolism by the legislature. Again like the treasurer's press conference this morning, we don't need symbolism or bumper stickers. We need to hash out solutions to the problems. And we're getting at it.

Ted Simons:
The speaker was saying the hiring freeze wasn't meant to be comprehensive but meant to be a tool to be used.

Janet Napolitano:
It is a tool that's being used and we are already using it. The legislature needs to focus on a comprehensive budget. That's the number one priority this session. Has been from day one.

Ted Simons:
There's concern you mention the growth of the state and yet we hear numbers and floating facts and figures showing 14\% increase in state spending year by year in three years and inflation and growth is 6\%. First of all, do you agree with the numbers? And secondly, why are some making the argument that spending is increasing more so than population and inflation?

Janet Napolitano:
That's an argument made a. by people who don't know what we're spending on and b. what we're spending and why we are spending. It's filled by three things 90\%, education, access and prisons. Education, medication and incarceration. That's 90\% of the budget. Unless you want larger class sizes. We can't kick people off access, that enrollment is mandated by initiative. Unless you want me to release people from prisons. Have you to set the budget. The vast majority of growth has been several things, population growth and enrollment things on access. It's not just population growth but what kind of population. Our second fastest growing group is 85 year old + and they have a lot of health care. And the next group is zero to 5 years old. They have a lot of health care and education associated with them. You need to get beneath some of those superficial numbers to see what's really going on. And then you have recognize that the federal government has been cost shifting to the states so some of the increase of state spending is because things that the federal government had been paying for they are now saying you pay for them so we can look fiscally responsible.

Ted Simons:
Some Democrats are saying the reason the spending increased so much in recent years is because it wasn't there in prior years. Do you agree with that?

Janet Napolitano:
That's a good point to make saying we had to cure prior deficits and huge cuts with the promise that when the budget came back, we would fill in those monies. That looks like an increase when in fact we are basically going to the status quo before the year 2002.

Ted Simons:
State property tax cut, permanent repeal. It's moving through the legislature. Why is this a bad idea?

Janet Napolitano:
It moved through the house. I'm not sure it will move through the senate. It's untimely and not an issue until 2010. When I hear a lecture on fiscal health of the state when they are passing another tax cut which hasn't been demonstrated to have relationship to the economic growth we need right now.

Ted Simons:
When the house speaker says this is the governor's attempt to balance the budget on the back of the homeowners you say?

Janet Napolitano:
I say most are willing to pay the cost of a latte or two to have education and roads and healthcare.

Ted Simons:
What about business owners who are saying that some of these property taxes that are hitting hard?

Janet Napolitano:
This is not one. In the scheme of things small, one of the number one taxpayer benefiting from this are the top ones, the utility company. What we need to focus on the health of the state is what benefits the average person on the street? The family, the working family, it's a quality education system and dealing with transportation infrastructure and healthcare.

Ted Simons:
So when some say that passing this now would be a signal to businesses around the country, come on out here and relocate, you are not buying that?

Janet Napolitano:
I say Bologna, they want to know about the education system and work force. We need to invest in that first.

Ted Simons:
Let's talk about the education, should students be required to pass AIMs to graduate?

Janet Napolitano:
There's a bill winning its way to my desk making adjustments there. AIMs is high-stakes test, and what I tell young people who are watching this is to buckle down and study.

Ted Simons:
If they buckle down and study and still can't pass the test. The idea of augmenting with good grades seems to be gaining faith. I just wonder about AIMs. Is it dieing a death by a thousand cuts?

Janet Napolitano:
It's a 10th grade test. I think we need to recognize that. I'm not sure education or dialogue of the state hasn't gotten way laid by AIMs. What do students need to know to be able to go on to more education in high school? In this day and age and economy high school is not the end. You have to be prepared for enhanced technical vocational, community college, or university. That requires math, science, language arts competencies Are they getting what they need to go further? AIMs is only a 10th grade test. If all we talk about AIMs is we terminate the discussion too early. Are they graduating with enough knowledge to go on?

Ted Simons:
The instructors we hear saying are frustrated because they feel like they have to teach to the test.

Janet Napolitano:
My answer is that if we have a good curriculum from earliest grades from preschool now all day k and forward, passing the test ought to be a natural result to the curriculum and not teaching to the test, per se. Some of that is because when you are beginning a new testing regime, you're going to have a teaching to the test issue because the system is adjusting. But the system had enough time to adjust now. So I really worry when educators say they have to teach to the test. Well what's going on in the earlier grades that students aren't able to pass it.

Ted Simons:
Reading Richard Florida's ideas and creative society and knowledge workers, is there a concern if this test becomes a requirement, you lose creative teaching as well that teaching out of the box that apparently folks like Mr. Florida thinks will be the wave of the future?

Janet Napolitano:
Last year when I was chair, I headed an association called innovation of America and focus governors on k-12 and university education and economic policies that foster innovation. My thinking was innovation, creativity to use Florida's words, is really going to be key to the United States economy remaining a dominate economy in the world moving forward. The cost of manufacturing and the like in a global world those get spread out and leave the United States. Why brains stay here and economic businesses stay here and the rest, economic wealth continues to be generated is because of the idea of being able to move from knowing a fact and a figure and formula to creativity, to move from idea to research to prototypes to market. Those are the kinds of things we are trying to foster in Arizona.

Ted Simons:
E.L.L. we have a new deadline for E.L.L. your reaction to that?

Janet Napolitano:
Well, it's April 15th. I am hopeful we'll have the 2008 and 2009 budgets by then. In my discussions with the legislative leadership, we haven't reached ELL. It's there.

Ted Simons:
Tom Horne's $40 million figure, what do you think on it?

Janet Napolitano:
I haven't been able to look at it. The school superintendents came up with 300 million. We ought to be focused on the goal which is to have the E.L.L. system in place, to have young people learn to read and write and speak in English as soon as possible.

Ted Simons:
Do you think starting at $2 million a day and going up to five, do you think that's fair with fines and penalties?

Janet Napolitano:
I don't want to comment on that. I hope not to pay them and resolve them before it takes place.

Ted Simons:
Illegal immigration, we've had hundreds and hundreds of arrests in the past week or so. What's going on?

Janet Napolitano:
A couple of things. The federal government is putting more resources into Arizona. That's a good thing. Secondly, even with the increased activity at our border, we have a lot of drop houses particularly in the Phoenix area and several have been taken down recently. We continue to have a lot of activity here. It continues to illustrate why the federal government can't walk away from the issue. That's why I wrote Secretary Chertoff saying don't move the national guard from the border. Some are not in place and some of the hiring you thought you would get done hasn't been done.

Ted Simons:
Senator John McCain called it a disgrace. Is it viable? It will happen?

Janet Napolitano:
I think the theory is viable. The theory is good theory to say augment technology with manpower. You can't do it with a border station every 100 yards the entire expanse of the border.

Ted Simons:
Secretary Chertoff wants to pull them off the border. What's the reason? Obviously you're not crazy about it. What are they saying for the reasons?

Janet Napolitano:
A lot different things. They have enough manpower. The problem's dealt with. I've been saying for a year since I learned from July moving the National Guard. I said no, don't do. It's working. It's offloading tasks on border patrol and having a good presence. Some of the problems we thought we would have with the National Guard we haven't. It's been a complement to the helping with the border. It seems to me a wise thing to keep them at current force level.

Ted Simons:
Do they have any ideas in lieu of the fence in lieu of the National Guard?

Janet Napolitano:
They say they are increasing border patrol presence and manpower. They can't get enough hired and trained and stationed at the border quickly enough to be one for one replacement with the National Guard. We've seen some of the games and stuff. I've worked with the federal government. The fact of the matter is show a continued commitment to the border security. They need to rethink the removal of the National Guard.

Ted Simons:
Talking about the moves here and Colorado to get guest worker program moved.

Janet Napolitano:
I support them on a limited basis with proper protections for workers and employers alike. I've written to the secretary of labor and I have met with her about doing one for agricultural workers. We know that in the Yuma area crops will go un harvested because the labor won't be there to pick them. We are moving forward under the assumption they will not get to the legislation that's comprehensive. Let's deal with it now.

Ted Simons:
Piecemeal for now and wait for the comprehensive later.

Janet Napolitano:
Right and then we could test out ideas that could be employed or used in the comprehensive federal bill.

Ted Simons:
I want to get to the economy. Are we in a recession?

Janet Napolitano: I tell you I get lost in the debate. I watch the pundits on T.V. In Arizona our economy is not so good. Unemployment is up and money is not moving and personal income growth has stalled and we have to deal with that. That means from the state government perspective the demand for our services go up. Our counter cycle. Recession or no recession we have a deficit and track back in Arizona to last May and probably need to assume for fiscal year 2009 it will continue and make plans accordingly.

Ted Simons:
So much hinges on the real estate lending crisis now. What do you do for the homeowners? Not the investors but the homeowners that are facing foreclosures. Is it the government's responsible to help them out similar to the feds helping them out with loans and arguably bailouts?

Janet Napolitano:
One of the things we are doing is connecting borrowers with lenders. I met with the manager of lenders for Arizona and they've agreed with borrowers if they can't afford the mortgage, they will move them into standard mortgage. The problem has been making the connection for the borrower to contact their lender before foreclosure and look at other credit opportunities currently available. No new bailout currently out there. There are options for borrowers. We just received a grant of 1.3-some-odd million dollars from the U.S. Department of Housing to provide counseling services for borrowers so they move into a more standard package instead of the teaser rate mortgages with the balloon payments that too many got into.

Ted Simons:
How do you explain to critics why the investment firms get the government's attention, getting bailouts and loans and the average Joe is looking at a foreclosed home?

Janet Napolitano:
I don't know that there's a response to that. We need to get the economy. It's the slow down in the ripple of credit. It started in housing. That's why it hit Arizona so hard and early. It ripped way beyond that. As we look at things done by the fed and national levels, it's about getting access to credit and getting that moving through our economy again.

Ted Simons:
All right. Senator Barack Obama had a speech on race. Your reaction?

Janet Napolitano:
I didn't see it. I was in budget meetings. But I read the text last night. It affirmed why I support Barack Obama because he took a controversial issue both political and personal and instead of a bumper sticker treatment, he addressed it. The American people appreciate the complexity to use a bad choice of words black or white and deal with the race issue in our nation and confront them and deal with them. He's prepared to do that as leader of the country.

Ted Simons:
Is race and gender, are these ideas and obviously very difficult topics, are they tearing the democratic party apart?

Janet Napolitano:
No. No. I don't think so at all. I think the democrats ultimately recognize the goal is to recapture the presidency. It's time. We've had how many years of leadership out of Washington, D.C. that has produced bad results and ultimately it's measured by bad results. It's time. But I will say that the whole issue now between two extraordinarily well-qualified people, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton has forced Americans and American voters to confront some of their old thinking. I think Obama did that in his talk yesterday. He said look, a lot of ways we talk about race is only designed to divide us not to recognize that, you know, whites and blacks all have frustrations with race and how the law has treated us and public policy has treated it and we need to engage in the dialogue and think about public policy for this century moving forward a different way.

Ted Simons:
When a Geraldine Ferrara says Barack Obama has an advantage because he's a black male running in this race, how do you respond to that statement?

Janet Napolitano:
I think his was great being a black male being named Barack Obama hasn't seen this advantage before. I think to minimize his obvious intellect and talent is unfortunate. I'm a lawyer and can appreciate this. He was editor and chief and Harvard law review. He worked with workers thrown out of the jobs and understands what that means on the streets. He's a success as a state legislator and a United States senator and author of two well-written books and a matter of accomplishments and read to lead.

Ted Simons:
As a woman and a political leader, does it concern you to hear a statement like that? Is there a slightest bit of truth in it?

Janet Napolitano:
No. I think it was unfortunate and wrong and the Clinton campaign said, no, that's not our position. I think Obama's response was appropriate being a black male is not an advantage for him and particularly given his name which is unusual. We need to refocus. What is this election about? Is it about the need for the change in the Washington, D.C.? It's about taking care of the national economy. It's about positioning us in a new global environment.

Ted Simons:
Thank you for joining us.

Janet Napolitano:
Thank you.

Ted Simons:
United States senator from Arizona, Jon Kyl, talks about the nation's economy, immigration, and the war in Iraq. Plus he updates us on a landmark water agreement with Native American tribes. That's tomorrow evening at 7:00 on "Horizon."

Ted Simons:
Coming up Friday, get the inside scoop on the big stories we've talked about tonight in another edition of the "Journalists' Roundtable." that's it for now. Thank you so much for joining us. I'm Ted Simons. Have a great evening.

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