Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

January 9, 2008


Host: Ted Simons

New Hampshire Primary Review


  • We’ll examine the New Hampshire primary results for Arizona Senator John McCain and the other presidential candidates.
Guests:
  • Dr. Rodolfo Espino - Assistant professor, Department of Political Science, Arizona State University
  • Tom Boone - Republican, House majority leader, Arizona Legislature
Category:

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Tonight on "Horizon," we'll take a look at what the new Hampshire primary did for John McCain and the other presidential hopefuls. And state lawmakers are meeting early to try to balance a billion dollar budget shortfall. Those stories are 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. Welcome to "Horizon." Arizona Senator John McCain with 37\% of the vote outpaced his republican rivals in the New Hampshire republican primary. Meanwhile, New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton surprised many pollsters by taking the top spot among the democrats. Here to help us sort it all out is Dr. Rodolfo Espino, an assistant professor in ASU's Department of Political Science.

Ted Simons:
Good to have you. Thank you for joining us.

Rodolfo Espino:
Thank you for having me.

Ted Simons:
John McCain gets the win he needed. He did need that win.

Rodolfo Espino:
Definitely, especially heading into the next several primaries, before we hit the February 5 states.

Ted Simons:
What did it do for him last night?

Rodolfo Espino:
What did it for him was New Hampshire. He is well known, back in 2000 New Hampshire treated him well. They treated him well again in 2008.

Ted Simons:
I was just going to ask about that, the next big stop is Michigan, open primary as well. It looks as though that might help McCain there.

Rodolfo Espino:
Well, Michigan is a caucus state, and it is favoring Romney largely because his father was governor there, was one time, well known, well liked. It is expected that Romney might wrap up Michigan. That caucus will show how McCain can fare against Romney in a state that favors Romney.

Ted Simons:
As far as yesterday in New Hampshire, a looks like the economy was a major factor, and does McCain's -- the fact that he is still on the same page as far as the war is concerned, regardless of how popular the war might be, the fact he has been consistent in his views that had to help too, didn't it?

Rodolfo Espino:
Especially among the Republican voters. The Republican base in states like New Hampshire and upcoming states, have not let their support to McCain -- certainly his stay the course position on Iraq helped him a little bit. And it probably is going to help him a lot more as he enters a state such as South Carolina where Huckabee is popular.

Ted Simons:
is there any indication from what you've seen and heard that there is a different strategy afoot?

Rodolfo Espino:
Not necessarily at this point. McCain, he's a smart guy. He remembers 2000 well. That's where his campaign in 2000 derailed, largely because of evangelical voters there. Huckabee a Baptist preacher, already has them on his side. It's going to be up to McCain to make sure that he doesn't lose any more ground in South Carolina to Huckabee from where he's at right now.

Ted Simons:
Mitt Romney again, as he mentions, a silver instead of a gold. How many times can he finish second and still keep this thing going?

Rodolfo Espino:
Not -- as long as he has money. He can't do it much longer. He is going to have to start moving up in the polls in some of these primary states before February 5. We'll see how he does.

>> Romney has more money, he had a better organization, at least a bigger organization in New Hampshire, and yet fewer votes and fewer wins so far. What's going on there?

Rodolfo Espino:
Well, in New Hampshire, again, the roll of independents, they break heavily for McCain. Romney probably just did not build up the base that he needed among the independents. He built up the base he needed among republicans, but certainly not among the independent voters, and independents, it always happens every time in New Hampshire, they really can sway elections.

Ted Simons:
Interesting. Rudy Giuliani is playing this delay game. He is looking for Florida and then going on to the bigger states and figuring those states are more important than the earlier ones. Interesting strategy. What do you think? Chance of succeeding?

Rodolfo Espino:
The same issue as Romney. He can last as long as he has money. A lot of money on hand. Florida is do or die for Giuliani. If he does not improve -- does not do better than he has in the past in Florida, he's pretty much cooked when we hit February 5.

Ted Simons:
I know you specialize in voter behavior, just the philosophy, psychology involved here. If Rudy Giuliani is consistently placing fourth, fifth, whatever the case may be, doesn't that play a little bit on to voters even in Florida?

Rodolfo Espino:
Absolutely. The primary election season is a game of expectations. You have to do better than expected, not worse. Given that Giuliani has been leading in the national polls and not winning at the state level in Iowa, New Hampshire, it is doing worse than expected, and in a primary election season you cannot do that. You have to do better than expected to win.

Ted Simons:
On the Democratic side, how did the polls get this one so wrong?

Rodolfo Espino:
Well, They got it wrong for one person, right with Obama's vote share with McCain's vote share and mitt's vote share. They were wildly off with Hillary. We've heard a lot of discussion as to why that happened. The female vote. Ballot ordering is an explanation I've heard. It could have been the weather, it was really warm. All of the explanations together probably explain why Hillary did better than expected, but I think the real key lies to the last-minute deciders, the last minute gut check as they went behind the curtain and made that decision between Barack and Hillary.

Ted Simon:
It has been suggested that race may have been a factor there. You tell a pollster one thing, behind the curtain you go another way?

Rodolfo Espino:
It is a possible. Unfortunately, with the data that we have -- it wouldn't be possible unless we go back into the field and

Ted Simons:
Senator Clinton showed emotion at one point and folks think they may have turned the tide as well. What do you think?

Rodolfo Espino:
You can't discount that. Not so much for her crying, as it was termed for the media. She got a lot of free air time that she did not have to pay for. There was the way the media discussed it as crying. Looking at that clip, many average voters, she was just getting choked up, she was tired. I think for a lot of women, having the media discuss that as being weak and crying upset a lot of them. It is a possibility that that pushed a lot more women into Hillary's column on Election Day.

Ted Simons:
Similar fashion, reporter in New Hampshire suggested that Senator Clinton was not likeable. She said that hurt her feelings. Then we had Barack Obama saying you're likeable enough, which a lot of folks thought was maybe a little unnecessary and put him in a different light. Tell how Barack Obama and how other candidates can get mean and nasty. Right now he has positioned himself where he can't campaign negatively.

Rodolfo Espino:
He has built his campaign on hope and optimism, and for him to even give a little comment in jest is unusual for him and for the supporters that he has drawn over the campaign, unusual for him to do that and for them to see it. That probably did not help him, that joking comment against Hillary.

Ted Simons:
What are you seeing from here on out for the democrats? Edwards is he pretty much out or does he still have a chance with South Carolina?

Rodolfo Espino:
Looking at the polling numbers, Hillary and Obama are ahead in South Carolina. He did not say that last night. He is looking ahead. 97\% of America hasn't voted. He is looking beyond South Carolina already. But it's hard to see how he could last much longer with the amount of money that he has on hand.

Ted Simons:
Bill Clinton's role in the primary yesterday. It looked like he was out a little more in the last couple of days, obviously before the day anyway, are we going to see more of him?

Rodolfo Espino:
It depends what states we are talking about. I assume a lot of him in South Carolina. He is popular in the African American community. We're sure to see Bill Clinton there.

Ted Simons:
Interesting. Last question, republicans have to be concerned, the turnout in Iowa, new Hampshire, democrats all over the place, republicans not as much as the last time around. That has to be a concern.

Rodolfo Espino:
It is a concern if it maintains through the general election.

Ted Simons:
Thank you for joining us. We appreciate it.

Rodolfo Espino:
Thank you for having me.

Ted Simons:
The new legislative session doesn't start until Monday, but lawmakers are already meeting to try to patch a huge hole in this year's budget. David Majure has more on the special hearings that started yesterday.

David Majure:
We have a challenge ahead of us.

Russell Pearce:
The state house and senate appropriations committees are meeting together for three days trying to fix a current year budget shortfall approaching $1 billion.

>> The number we are working with is 970 plus million dollars.

David Majure:
State tax revenues are far less than expected due to an economic downturn that features a sluggish housing market.

>> We have two choices, either fix the budget or raise taxes.

David Majure:
The chairman of the appropriations committee have a proposal to solve the budget crisis. The governor's office has one as well. They both tap into the rainy day fund. The governor seeks $263 and the chair wants --

David Majure:
The governor wants to borrow money to pay for school buildings like you would mortgage your house. The chairman's say that piles on more debt. Instead they suggest delaying new school construction for a year. They also propose a 10\% lump sum budget cut for most state agencies, including universities, and they suspend capital funding for community colleges.

Kristen Boilini:
The outlay proposal of $20 million is a significant hit to community colleges. It's not bricks and mortar. It is not the maintenance of buildings, it is not something that you can put off. Long term contracts for computer equipment, maintenance of lab equipment and purchase of lab equipment. Soft capital, items going into the classroom and directly to the students. That is a tough hit for the community college to take.

David Majure:
There are some bitter pills for the Appropriations chairman to swallow, some have suggested the finished product will be somewhere between the two proposals.

Bob Burns:
I believe if we end up somewhere between we have failed miserably in getting the job done, because the proposal that Representative Pearce and I have put on the table is a starting point and it does not solve the problem.

David Majure:
Senator Burns says the real problem is the structural deficit. Simply put, the State spends more than it makes.

Bob Burns:
In order to close that structural deficit will take real courage by members of the legislature to make the decisions necessary to get our spending under control.

Ted Simons:
Joining me to talk about the budget hearings are house majority leader Republican Tom Boone, and the leader of the house Democrats representative Phil Lopes.

Ted Simons:
Gentlemen, thank you so much for joining us. I appreciate it.

Phil Lopes:
Pleasure.

Ted Simons:
Phil, let's start with the idea, we can't figure out how serious this problem is. Competing forecasts out there. What are you hearing, and what are you seeing, and where do we take it from there?

Phil Lopes:
The problem is serious. We've got a serious shortfall in revenue. Although there are slight disagreement on what the shortfall is, I'm less concerned about that disagreement than the simple size of the shortfall. A lot of money that we expected to have that we're not going to have. I'm on the appropriations committee. We saw it on the monitor. We are meeting. I'm hopeful we will start meeting with the leadership which is what we agreed to do several -- a month ago now, we agreed that the leadership would start meeting so we could start doing the negotiation. We hope that's going to start soon.

Ted Simons:
Different forecast, a concern to you I would think some folks coming from one direction and some folks seem to be coming from another.

Tom Boone:
Actually I agree with representative lopes on this issue. The Governor looking at somewhere $870 million for the current year, the numbers that we have about $970 for the current year, that is close when you are dealing with those numbers. The projected shortfall is close I believe at this point.


Ted Simons:
As far as Republicans are concerned and the things that are being targeted, why were they chosen and why were they targeted?


Tom Boone:
First of all let me talk about that. What you're referring to is the chairman's options list, and that's basically what it is. The chairman of the Appropriations Committee, House and Senate Representative Pearce and Burns got together. That is not a specific proposal. The governor has a budget management plan that she has put out for the '08 budget. We will be considering those. Considering the chairman's cuts -- chairman's options cuts, I should say, the list also. Representative Lopes mentioned the bipartisan meetings, and we have agreed to get together in a bipartisan fashion. We're supposed -- we should be starting those meetings very soon. They're trying to schedule those now. The sooner we get going, the better off I think we will be and I hope representative Lopes agrees with that.

Ted Simons:
It sounds like on the other side, the idea let's make some of these cuts and fixes permanent as opposed to deferring. How do you respond?

Phil Lopes:
By the way, I do agree with Mr. Boone that we need to get moving quickly and
I -- I'm optimistic about when we get moving, because the process that we're going to do now is a continuation of the process we did in 2007. And it worked. I'm optimistic about -- I'm optimistic about that. Regarding the -- what was the --

Ted Simons:
The idea that the fixes should be permanent.

Phil Lopes:
I see. Yeah, I'm not sure that's -- what we need to do is cut the amount that we need to cut this year, and then cut the amount we need to cut next year. When you look back at the economics of the state, they're always cyclical. Every two or three years they go up, every two or three years they come down. When we've got government activities that people need, we can't simply cut them. We need to figure out a way around them until the economy goes back up and we're in a better position. So I'd rather not talk about permanent temporary cuts. Let's cut the amount we need to cut this year. Let's cut the amounts we need to cut next year.

Ted Simons:
It sounds like more of a manage as you go as opposed to making hard choices and cuts. Why is manage as you go a better idea?

Tom Boone:
Well, the way it's described, let's go back to the permanent cuts for a second. Maybe I can address that. I think that the reason that permanent cuts of some kind need to be made and starting in '08 is because it will exacerbate the problem. When the turn around is going to come around, back around I should say and state revenues start coming up is something that I don't think the sides are in agreement on. That enters into negotiations also. What we here, consensus groups, others, longer term than that. It is not going to turn around right away. Revenues for next year will be flat. The year after that small growth rate. Historical growth around 6\% will be three or four years out before that happens. In the meantime, a structural problem to deal with. Less revenues coming in. Expenditures higher than what we're bringing in revenue. Senator Burns stated it really well. That's the issue. We have to balance those things. To the extent that we don't make cuts this year, it exacerbates the problem for '09 and '10 and beyond.

Ted Simons:
The governor will come back and ay what the democrats are trying to do is protect investments, services that are out there, up and operational and all of the sudden now are being threatened. Why again is that a wrong idea?

Tom Boone:
We have to be cognizant of that. The Republican leadership is in the same position. We have to protect children and families in Arizona that are getting services obviously. We have serious decisions, difficult decisions we have to make. We would rather start making those sooner than later because the more you postpone those kind of decisions the worse they become in the future. We can discuss specific areas. It is not just spending. But School borrowing, budget stabilization fund, all within the mix of discussion for a solution.

Ted Simons:
I do want to get to that in a second. Representative Lopes, the idea these are tough times, the budget needs to reflect that, the Governor sees that, you see that --

Phil Lopes:
Absolutely. As good stewards we need to manage our way through this process. But managing our way through it as opposed to a more sledge hammer kind of approach, which is what the -- the way I describe the Chairman's options when they are 10\%, 8\%, across the board cuts in all agencies. That's a massive approach. What we would prefer and the governor prefers is say to the agencies, you've got to cut. Let the agency directors decide where it is they have to cut and in some cases it will be 10\%, other cases it will be 12. That's the difference between managing our way through this event, I hate to say crisis, managing, versus just taking a sedge hammer to programs as you point out are needed by people in the state.

Ted Simons:
Well, let's keep the sledge hammer metaphor going. This is not only a tough time now, but forecast for not just the next session, fiscal year, on down the line differ greatly as to how long these tough times will last. Why not get a budget that goes through a few cycles as opposed to managing in the shorter cycle?

Phil Lopes:
I'm not opposed to doing that as long as programs do not get cut that I feel strongly and others feel strongly are needed by the people in this state and perhaps equally importantly, needed for this state to continue to grow with an economy that's viable and vibrant. There are certain things that government has to do in order to make that happen. We cannot sacrifice that. We cannot sacrifice that.

Tom Boone:
We concur, by the way. And in terms of going back, if I could make one comment also, in terms of the agencies having flexibility to cut, we don't have a problem with that either. That's a manageable approach. That's been used in the past when we've had budget reductions before five years ago.

Ted Simons:
A major stumbling block seems to be school financing and the concept of borrowing and bonding and such. Why is that such a sticking point and why is the Republican side so firm in saying that we just can't do this?

Tom Boone:
We believe that it's a bad idea for several reasons. First of all, it's been likened to a mortgage. People buy homes and it is just a normal thing you mortgage. We build schools. A couple of key differences: First of all, at the state level, we build something like 35 to 40 schools a year. To us it is not a capital expenditure, an ongoing expenditure of $350 to $400 million. A person buys a home one time every several years, you mortgage it and make the payments. The other thing is the magnitude of the amount of money you're talking about. To the state -- it would be likened to an individual making $1 million a year and borrowing money to buy a $40,000 home. Most people making that kind of money would not see the sense in doing that. Put the taxes aside, we don't have income tax returns at the state level, pure borrowing thing. Other thing talked about, people who are not here, get the benefit of the schools when they get here, if you stretch it out in time, that those folks would share in the cost. The fact of the matter when you factor in borrowing costs, financing costs, if we were to pay cash today, those of us here today would pay more over that scenario because we would never grow by the rate of population to make up of difference.

Ted Simons:
Borrowing costs are there when you borrow. Is that a wise idea, is that sound fiscal policy?

Phil Lopes:
It is a fiscal policy that we may be forced to do. The choice we have, if we stick with cash only, and if the cash ain't there, we don't get the schools built. That's not an option. That's not an option. What we would prefer is to say we'll manage our way through this by capital financing for these schools. We do it for roads. It was done when the school districts were building schools. They did it this way. I can't disagree with Mr. Boone's arguments. It is a management choice is what it is. We think it is worth it to bond, capital finance, and get the schools at least some of that expense will be paid by the people who use them. That's more important than -- that's an example of managing our way through this as opposed to sledge hammering it.

Tom Boone:
Borrowing of course for schools, nothing is off the table at this point. It has to be discussed. But we think it is a bad idea and I've given you the reasons why. In budget negotiations, we will be discussing those things. If we can't afford to pay cash today, the $350, to 400 million, each year you borrow, the borrowing payments become higher and higher and higher, and at some point in the future, you will spend $350 to $400 million a year anyway for schools, now you have made the schools cost twice as much -- let me make one other point. The Governor recommended, the rainy day fund, $263 million out the rainy day fund -- the concept of borrowing money before you use your savings account, it just is a bad idea. The budget stabilization fund is sitting in the bank. Why would you issue debt before you use your savings account?

Ted Simons:
Okay.

Tom Boone:
No logic.

Ted Simons:
We have to stop it right there.

Phil Lopes:
Thank you.

Ted Simons:
I know. Thank you so much though.

Tom Boone:
Thank you.

Ted Simons:
You're welcome.

Ted Simons:
Immigration will be a hot topic again during the upcoming legislative session. Several more tough anti-illegal bills being planned for the session, find out more about them. The business community holds a luncheon. That is Thursday on "Horizon."

Ted Simons:
Thank you for joining us. I'm Ted Simons. You have a great evening.

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

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