Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

April 16, 2008


Host: Ted Simons

Governor Janet Napolitano


  • Facing a multi-billion dollar budget shortfall, state lawmakers approved a property tax cut and sent the bill to the governor. Meanwhile, the governor and a coalition of business groups want to ask voters to approve a sales tax increase to pay for highway projects. Hear what Governor Janet Napolitano has to say about those issues and more in her monthly appearance on HORIZON.
Guests:
  • Janet Napolitano - Arizona Governor
Category: Governor Visit

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Hello, and welcome to "Horizon," I'm Ted Simons. Phoenix mayor Phil Gordon is asking the justice department to determine if Sheriff Joe Arpaio's immigration sweeps are violating civil rights laws. Is an FBI investigation the best way for the mayor to get the answers he's looking for? And does Arizona's governor have a role to play in local immigration enforcement? Here to talk about that is former U.S. attorney and current Arizona governor, Janet Napolitano. Nice to see you again.

Janet Napolitano:
You bet.

Ted Simons:
Was Phil Gordon right in asking the feds to look into civil rights violations in this particular case?

Janet Napolitano:
The mayor has made some serious allegations about violations of civil rights, and that's what the justice department is there for, to look at those sorts of issues. And that's what the FBI is supposed to do. What I believe ought to happen is they ought to look into those allegations and the sheriff ought to cooperate with that and make information available.

Ted Simons:
From what you've seen and heard and witnessed from a distance regarding these crime suppression sweeps by the sheriff, are they a good idea?

Janet Napolitano:
You've got some competing things going on here. One is, you know, we are -- I am strongly opposed to racial profiling of any sort. But I also believe the immigration laws need to be enforced. They should be being enforced by the federal government. We're in this situation because of a failure of the administration and the congress to get together on an immigration reform bill that makes sense. Now we're in it. And so enforcement measures have to be designed so that they do not lap over into racial profiling of Arizonans who are here lawfully and legally. That is the concern that is now being raised. These are cutting with too broad a brush, they're not really targeting human smugglers and the illegal immigration activity that's coming to our valley. The other concern is a very practical one, and that is having two law enforcement departments, a city police department and a sheriff's department, operating in the same geographic area without coordination and proper notice to one another. And that's a recipe for trouble. You don't know who's undercover, you don't know who's law enforcement and who isn't. And that does not help increase the level of public safety, which is such a key concern. So a number of chiefs of police have said to the sheriff, look, you've got to coordinate with us. We need better notice. And when you are coming in, we need to know exactly what you in the end to do if you are going to come in. That should be worked out between law enforcement leaders at the same table. So all of this is troublesome, and you know, like I said, I think the sheriff needs to cooperate with whatever inquiry the justice department makes. That's what the justice department is there for. And I think I'm going to work toward two ends. One is to make sure that racial profiling doesn't occur in our state. But two is to keep advocating that the federal government do its job and enforce our immigration laws, and then make smart decisions about where state and local law enforcement fits in.

Ted Simons:
Is there something you can do as well regarding -- Mesa's kind of involved here, as well, not to mention the leadership of Guadalupe. These are folks -- there's an obvious disconnect here.

Janet Napolitano:
The mayor of chandler has now weighed in, saying he's worried.

Ted Simons:
You're getting some criticism in some corners that she's not doing enough, she should be at least refereeing or getting these folks to a table somewhere and getting them back connected.

Janet Napolitano:
We had an immigration summit several summers ago. But the fact of the matter is the sheriff is independently elected. The mayors are independently elected. They don't report to the governor. And you know, I've got a key focus here on the state law enforcement aspect of this. But I'm going to say what my expectations are here. Here's my expectations. No racial profiling, effective and targeted illegal immigration enforcement, and proper coordination between law enforcement agencies. That's what I'm looking for.

Ted Simons:
Can this issue become more divisive than it is right now? It's tough out there right now.

Janet Napolitano:
It is very tough. And there are people who are legitimately concerned about these sweeps, who are legally here. People in my office have relatives who have been stopped now. So there is a concern that out of a desire to enforce the immigration laws, it is lapping over into racial profiling using traffic stops as a pretext. That, I think is not acceptable.

Ted Simons:
Rapid repatriation, the deportation policy here in Arizona, is being held up as a model for other states. First of all, why do the feds seem to like it so much?

Janet Napolitano:
This is what I mean by smart enforcement. This was something we started with the department of corrections two years ago. We cross-train D.O.C. officers in immigration law. We pre-identify deportable inmates in our state prison system so, when they start making plans, we didn't release them into the community. They went right into a deportation from our country. And that process has really been working very well. It sounds easy. Of course you would give an inmate to I.C.E. and they would deport them. It's hasn't been happening anywhere around the country except in Arizona. We said, this is an area where the state can take a known group of felonious illegal immigrants, those who actually committed felonies when they were here, and put them into the process to get them out of the country.

Ted Simons:
Yet critics are saying why are these people, the nonviolent offenders, allowed to leave or not fulfill their term, in terms of incarceration? It's not fair, they should have to fill out their term like everybody else.

Janet Napolitano:
They are filling out their terms. Before their terms are ending, we are already starting the deportation proceedings.

Ted Simons:
State temporary worker bills, the bill for Arizona only. Is that a good idea?

Janet Napolitano:
I think it's a good idea. Again, we are here because of the failure of the federal government. I'm going to say this until the cows come home. The president and the congress need to reengage on immigration as soon as there is a new administration and a new congress in Washington, D.C. but in the meantime, we know that we have labor shortages. We have more jobs in certain areas of our economy than people to work, and the most particular one of course is agriculture. This is a bill really designed to help us at the state level with federal approval, to do something in that arena.

Ted Simons:
Should it be limited to agriculture?

Janet Napolitano:
Well, I actually think there are other elements of our economy that it can apply to, and could be able to be applied to, as well. But the notion is -- and let's get back to the vast majority of the illegal immigration into Arizona is because it's a labor issue. And they're coming because there are jobs there, wages here, there are American dollars to be earned and sent back home. So if you're going to deal with that, you have to deal with the labor side of it. That's why I signed employer sanctions. That's why I think this current bill is a worthy experiment. On the law enforcement side we've been focused so much on disrupting the flow of money through a device known as damming warrants, because that is really where systematically we're going to have a real impact on illegal immigration, at the state level.

Ted Simons:
You mentioned employer sanctions. How is that affecting the state so far?

Janet Napolitano:
Impossible to tell. First of all, there have been no enforcement actions. There's not a lot of reality out there, some anecdotes about people leaving the state. But again, it's too soon to tell whether they left for that reason or because of the general economic downturn. Some say our economic downturn is because of the employer sanctions law. Nevada and California have just almost identical numbers in terms of economic downturn, but they don't have the sanctions law. It's hard to say that's really causal.

Ted Simons:
We've talked about crime sweeps, deportation policies, and the state temporary worker bill. Under this umbrella, how does Arizona look to the rest of the country? When you're around the country and you talk to folks and they ask you questions about Arizona or give their opinions, what are they saying about us?

Janet Napolitano:
Unfortunately, it has not made Arizona look particularly good. In part, because the focus has been on the tension caused by the sweeps, as opposed to the other things that have been going on, such as the human smuggling targeting, the damming warrants, and so forth. And so it has not -- it hasn't benefited Arizona's national reputation. On the other hand, let me just say this. I believe the things we're doing on immigration really do make us a laboratory now, because we are ahead of the other states in trying employer sanctions, in trying a state-only temporary worker bill. In looking at some of the law enforcement strategies that we've employed through the department of public safety, and that, I think, will stand us in good stead as the nation as a whole moves to immigration reform.

Ted Simons:
Speaking of immigration, legal and otherwise, we had E.L.L. funding. You allowed this, no veto, but no signature. Why that method?

Janet Napolitano:
Well, because the bill was a $40 million appropriation and I wanted the money to flow, in part to forestall fines that the district court instructed that would not only go for English language instruction. I think Arizona has had enough of paying money into the federal treasury, as far as these issues are concerned. The -- there's a lot of other issues that need to be addressed. First of all, the money may not be adequate. Secondly, the whole issue of using or counting federal funds inappropriately is a doctrine known as supplanting, the court says you can't do it. This bill still supplants. Third, the way that funds are distributed, districts with a huge population of non-English speaking students, they get no money, and some with hardly any non-English- speaking students get a lot of money. So the methodology that the department of ed adopted for giving out money, is pretty screwed up.

Ted Simons:
What would be the next step?

Janet Napolitano:
Step number two is that the legislature should go back in and address the methodology by which the money is actually distributed to the schools. The easiest thing to do would be to use the existing formula for something called group b weight, that already exists, and you don't have to have a separate bureaucracy or schools spending money on grant applications the way you do now, just get the money out there. And they're going to have to relook at the amount.

Ted Simos:
Task force, the idea of the four hours of immersion, what do you think of that?

Janet Napolitano:
Not much. I think in some situations it might be all right. But there are other methods that are present and are working in other districts that don't, in essence, segregate non-English speaking students from other students for the bulk of the school day. I think those other models are worthy of serious consideration.

Ted Simons:
Back to the bill as it stands and the law. Do you think this is going to address a judge's concerns?

Janet Napolitano:
I think we're back in court. The attorney for the plaintiffs has already indicated he's getting a filing ready to address some of the other issues. I stated both last time what I thought was an inadequate legislative vehicle going into law, so that the court's could address it and this time as well.

Ted Simons:
No veto there but certainly the state property tax repeal. You decided to veto that one. Why?

Janet Napolitano:
That was a temporary suspension of what was called the secondary property tax. It was agreed to by myself with the legislators when times were flush. That suspension doesn't even end until next year. To permanently suspend or repeal that property tax is untimely. You don't need to do it now. But it's particularly untimely this year when we have a budget deficit and a legislature who, despite the fact that it's the middle of April, has yet to present me with a budget that I can sign, or pass me any sort of budget whatsoever.

Ted Simons:
Critics say your veto action is, in effect, a tax increase.

Janet Napolitano:
That's as disingenuous as you might believe. It's not a tax increase, it was simply suspended. It was like a rebate for a couple of years. Arizonans have spoken consistently. They want to us continue to invest in education, they want funding for transportation. They want to make sure that our institutions of higher education thrive. And we're a growing population, even in a down turned economy, with a large deficit. So to pass a tax cut before you even take care of some of those basic necessities was untimely, unwise, and untenable.

Ted Simons:
The critics will say these are the times when you should be pushing any way possible for a lighter tax burden, especially on businesses.

Janet Napolitano:
To which I say, look, we have done a lot of tax cutting in my time as governor for businesses. Hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars of tax cuts have been approved by me, proposed by me, and signed by me. But I'm against an unwise tax cut that interferes with our ability to prepare the workforce of the future, to have the product we need for business in the future. By the way, business also says they need that, and that would drive our state into further deficit. I think I have an obligation to provide a balanced budget and manage our state through the economic downtimes so when it -- we hit the other shore running. This particular bill I've got to say was not well considered, nor well thought, and it would have been wrong of me to let it go into law.

Ted Simons:
You mentioned the budget. Can you give us any kind of hope or ray of light?

Janet Napolitano:
I was saying in a meeting this morning, when I was in the fourth grade we had earth science in school. And we studied the creation of sedimentary rocks, layers and layers of sand deposited over centuries until you finally have sandstone or what have you. I said, that's about the pace the budget is going. I have given the legislature a budget plan. I gave it the whole thing on January 14th. I've revised it as the year has gone by and economic circumstances have changed and numbers have changed. We had some meetings, some offers and counteroffers, but to date I do not yet have a comprehensive budget from the legislature that really deals with the things of concern to Arizonans. They really -- when they assembled the session, they started early, and they were going through the appropriations process. I've given them more information than I know what to do. They will always say they want more information, but trust me, they've got everything. Guys, get organized and get to a process.

Ted Simons:
It seems as though the longer this is dragged out, the more is going to have to get cut.

Janet Napolitano:
We have an agreement with the legislature on our spending cuts for the current fiscal year. Even though I don't have a bill before me, my agency directors have been directed to meet those spending thresholds. So we are cutting as we go along, and have been. We've been effectively restricting spending since September. So we've been pulling back. It's just that we've been doing it incrementally over the course of the year so you don't see it all in one big bang. That is going on. But we are not going to be able to balance this budget only by spending cuts. We're going to need to bond for construction. We're going to need to use our rainy day fund. We're probably going to have to use something called a rollover, which is something that other governors have used, a method of how you account for your k-12 expenditures. And that will get us through 2008 and 2009, and allow us basically to have a balance going into 2010.

Ted Simons:
Something else that might help, according to some lawmakers, is the ability for them to take spending mandates that they can't touch now and start touching them. What do you think?

Janet Napolitano:
I understand there's a lot of the budget they can't adjust because it's voter-protected. And in a deficit, they would like to be able to get at it. But I'm very skeptical. This is a legislature -- most of those initiatives passed because the legislature wasn't listening to the voters of Arizona. They wanted more money for education, that's why they passed the initiative. They wanted more money for health care, that's why they passed an initiative. To let them use a deficit word, they have other ways to balance the budget which I have given them, as an excuse to go back in and change initiatives they didn't like anyway, and I don't think that's a good idea.

Ted Simons:
Should some flexibility be at least looked at?

Janet Napolitano:
You know, perhaps. I think there are some things. One of the things I'd like to see is that the legislature not be able to refer things to the ballot unless they have a super majority. They want to use that as a technique to get around the normal checks and balances between the legislature and the executive branch. If they want to look at some of those things, we can look at some of those things. This particular one I'm very skeptical of. It doesn't and cannot help us balance our current budget, and that ought to be the focus.

Ted Simons:
Do you like the idea of aims scores being augmented, boosted, whatever the word, by high school grades?

Janet Napolitano:
I think if it's done in the right way with certain coursework, I can see the reasoning behind that. But I think the whole discussion really illustrates why making aims testing and high-stakes testing has distracted us to what is the real function of a high school education. That high school diploma from an Arizona high school ought to mean that student is prepared to go to a community college or a university or some kind of enhanced technical-vocational training. When all you do is focus on a tenth grade test, you lose sight of really what other things, what additional skills and knowledge our students need to have. We need to keep upping our standards.

Ted Simons:
We have a question regarding education, as well, as far as title 5 federal funding for the abstinence-only education. Why has title 5 funding been suspended? This is federal, not state funding. Your response.

Janet Napolitano:
It's not totally federal. State funding is required, and we've been putting substantial dollars into this. That federal funding only comes if you agree that abstinence will be the only thing you talk about in sex education. I believe in abstinence, we all believe -- I can't speak for everybody, but I believe that should be the first choice. But it is not the only choice, unfortunately, that teenagers make. And so the data is overwhelming that you need to have complete, comprehensive science-based education for these high schoolers, because they need information to make better choices. Abstinence only doesn't allow you to do that. Plus, there's a question about some of the materials actually used in the coursework. Given that we have to put state money into it, given that it doesn't work and restricts the ability of schools to add to the curriculum, even if the parents want the curriculum added to, I decided this was federal funding we could do without.

Ted Simons:
We don't have a heck of a lot of time left, but do I want to get to the state transit plan. It's being talked about, get that thing on the ballot this year. First of all, is this the time to be pushing for a transit tax, considering economic conditions?

Janet Napolitano:
I think actually it's a good time. We're paying a time tax now, people are stuck in traffic. And better to build our transportation corridors now, because we know population growth is going to continue and it's going to pick up again. It's a lot easier to build things now and to know where things will go, and growth will go where the corridors are. You get a transportation plan and a growth plan, because the growth will follow the transportation. Thirdly, you know, getting money running through this economy and good jobs running through this economy is a healthy thing. Building transportation roads and rail, part of the plan would be rail between Phoenix and Tucson, and how long have we been talking about doing that? Those are good jobs for Arizonans that can't be outsourced and a great legacy to build. I think it's always important to keep Arizonans focused on the long term future.

Ted Simons:
And I take it that's going to be the push, as far as getting voters looking at, again, tough time to say we need to spend more money for x, y or z.

Janet Napolitano:
I think voters will have to make the choice. They can't make a choice unless there's something on the ballot for them to look at. They're disempowered, right now, the way it's been going, there's nothing for them to choose. The way we have transportation funded right now at the state level, we're soon going to be to the point where we can build no new projects. It's not a sustainable system.

Ted Simons:
Last question regarding state trust lands. There's a conservation initiative making some noise out there. Your thoughts on this.

Janet Napolitano:
I think it goes very well with the transportation initiative. You have growth corridors and transportation products, and then you protect land from development, from some of our valuable trust land. And you give us the ability to do other things with other state trust lands to enhance their value. To me, that deals with growth, infrastructure, protection of open space. What a great legacy for the next centennial of Arizona.

Ted Simons:
Should the constitution be changed for this, though?

Janet Napolitano:
It has to be, because the state trust lands are embodied in the constitution, so there's really no other way to do it.

Ted Simons: I
f it has to go that far, it goes that far. And the developers say, why should we have to compete with cities for lands, you would say?

Janet Napolitano:
In essence, you do now. The plain fact of the matter is these lands were given in trust to Arizona when we entered the union. The proceeds on the sales go for education. We can enhance the value of lands if we protect some of them from development. There's lots of options in between, but we need to be thinking of Arizona, not just today and tomorrow, and some of these actions need to be taken now to protect the lands for the long-term future.

Ted Simons:
Thanks for joining us, governor.

Janet Napolitano:
Thanks, we covered a lot.

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