Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

April 17, 2008


Host: Ted Simons

Legislative Update


  • Join Arizona Republic columnist Bob Robb as he brings us up to date on the latest developments from the state capitol.
Guests:
  • Bob Robb - Columnist, Arizona Republic
Category: Legislature

View Transcript
>>Ted Simons:
State lawmakers and the governor reportedly have reached a budget agreement for this year. The agreement would draw about half a billion dollars from the state's rainy day fund, cut 310 million in spending and sweep another 300 million from State funds. The budget solution would not include borrowing for school construction, something the Governor had wanted. And the war of words continues between Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon. The Sheriff told the Mayor to put up or shut up. Arpaio also said the mayor, quote, has no power except his tongue and talking. Arpaio also said Gordon's call for the Federal Government to investigate him on allegations of Racial Profiling is without merit.

>>Ted Simons:
A group of Hispanic lawmakers are joining Mayor Gordon in calling for a federal investigation into Sheriff Arpaio's crime suppression sweeps. Speaking for the Arizona Legislative Latino Caucus, state lawmaker said-- quote -- we've seen plenty of examples of people being victims of racial profiling and people who have been victims of serious violations of civil rights. Sheriff Arpaio's response-- quote -- I will not be intimidated by minority groups.

>>Ted Simons:
Also at the capitol, the Governor set off some fireworks earlier this week by vetoing a bill that would have permanently repealed a State Property Tax. That led to calls for the measure to be put on the ballot. And the Governor let go into effect, without her signature, funding for English Language Learners. Here to talk about the activity at the Capitol is Arizona Republic columnist Bob Robb. Bob, good to have you on the program. Thanks for joining us.

>>Bob Robb:
Good to be with you.

>>Ted Simons:
Well, let's talk about this reported agreement now with the Budget. '08 only, correct?

>>Bob Robb:
That's correct, and one of the questions, which we will see, perhaps even later on tonight, is the extent to which it's truly an agreement. But the Republicans are moving forward tonight with a fix to the '08 Budget. The extent to which it attracts Democratic votes, the extent to which it's acceptable to the Governor, remains to be seen. It's reported that there's general agreement, but sources that I talk to this afternoon indicated that might not be as certain as it's being reported.

>>Ted Simons:
The Governor, last night, on this program, and in a press briefing yesterday, kind of lambasted lawmakers, again, saying, do something, I'm waiting for something to get done, do something. All of a sudden today, something seems to happen. Coincidence? What's going on here?

>>Bob Robb:
Well, maybe she did trigger it. This is basically the spending freeze that the Legislature sent up to the Governor several weeks ago, which the Governor vetoed. It is -- it has been described to me, an approach for '08 that the Governor was tentatively willing to accept, in the context of also having an agreement on next year's budget, the '09 Budget. Obviously, lawmakers are only going forward with the '08 part of it, and maybe that was triggered, in part, by her challenge. I think there's also been a growing restlessness among Republican lawmakers over not tackling the '08 problem and getting on with it. And I also think that the negotiations for '09 are going to be even more protracted and time is running out to the extent that spending cuts will be part of the picture to take any action in '08.

>>Ted Simons:
You talk about '09 being a factor here in the '08 budget. No school bonding here in '08. Is that because all eyes are focused on '09?

>>Bob Robb:
I think it's because there was an ability to get to an '08 solution, at least on paper, involving not paying a month's worth of what's owed to the School Districts in State Aid. That's $272 million. And if you dip into the Rainy Day Fund by about $500 million, you get to the number that's anticipated for '08. I'm told that there are those who believe you can actually, after '08 ends, make a decision to, in effect, have bonded for '08. So the extent to which bonding for school construction ultimately plays a role, not only for '09, perhaps also for '08, I think remains a matter of discussion. Needless to say, I didn't quite follow the explanation of how you can make the decision on '09 to have bonded for what you spent cash for in '08, but apparently, the budget gurus believe that is technically a possible answer.

>>Ted Simons:
It does sound like a stretch of the space-time continuum there, but do you think lawmakers know what's going on as well? Are the budget folks working circles around some of those folks there at the Capitol. where they're not going to be able to understand this or go along with it?

>>Bob Robb:
The '08 solution is pretty straightforward. And the bill has been drafted, has been provided to lawmakers, and it is about $310 million in spending reductions, about $300 million in funds sweeps. Not paying a month's worth of what's due to the School Districts, and dipping into the Rainy Day Fund by close to $500 million. So there's nothing in this package that's particularly complex. The guts of it, the spending cuts and the fund sweeps, have been before the Legislature and voted on before. So I don't think there's a sense of, "I don't think I understand this" on behalf of the legislators. There may be a sense of "I don't quite understand how this fits into '09", but I don't think that makes them any different than the people negotiating the '09 budget. I don't think anyone knows what's going to happen for '09.

>>Ted Simons:
Where we are right now, and again, we should get votes in the House and Senate later on this evening, winners and losers, from where you sit, and from what you know.

>>Bob Robb:
It's certainly, if the Governor accepts it, is basically accepting the Republican approach to the '08 Budget. It involves spending cuts, it involves fund sweeps, and it involves dipping more deeply into the Rainy Day Fund than the Governor proposed. It includes no financing. The extent to which those gains are consolidated in the discussion of the '09 Budget, and reduce the extent to which financing is used to solve the '09 problem, is a game for another day.

>>Ted Simons:
All right. Speaking of winners and losers, State Property Tax repeal, definitely a loser as far as the Governor is concerned. Went ahead and vetoed that. Not a surprise?

>>Bob Robb:
No. She had expressed opposition to it. But then again, she's expressed opposition to many tax cuts which she ended up signing once it reached her desk. Ordinarily she's taken the position that I'm not willing to consider tax cuts except in the context of an overall budget solution. In this case, that's not possible, because we're talking about tax cuts that will expire in the Fiscal Year '10 budget. So these are tax cuts that are designed to go into effect beyond the current budget negotiations.

>>Ted Simons:
Is this something that can be revived, either by way of lawmakers trying to get it somehow involved in the budget, or putting the doggone thing on the ballot?

>>Bob Robb:
It certainly has the potential to be a bargaining chip for Republican votes for an '09 budget that's more to the Governor's liking than probably the '08 interim solution is. And there are some lawmakers that are talking about referring a permanent repeal of what amounts to a State Property Tax to the November ballot. So I don't think we've heard the last of the subject.

>>Ted Simons:
And I know, I just know we have not heard the last of ELL, even though we got to 40-some-odd million. They're through, the Governor says I'm not gonna sign it, let it go. Are the courts going to go along with this?

>>Bob Robb:
There's certainly ample ability for Judge Collins, who is Superintending the lawsuit, to decide it either way. On the one hand, this is a funding amount which results from a new program for ELL learning adopted by the State, and an evaluation of the needs to fund that by Tom Horne, the Superintendent of Public Instruction. So to the extent, the Court was looking for a solution that was based upon a rational analysis of need, the Judge could conclude this meets that test. On the other hand, it does not get large sums of money into the hands of School Districts that have large numbers of English Language Learners. It's substantially less money than some studies have indicated, and the approach that's used doesn't fully square with the Judge's previous orders. So it's really sort of a test for him. He inherited this case, he didn't make the original decision. If he wants out of it, I think there's the opportunity for him to get out of it. On the other hand, I think there is the ability to say this doesn't comply with what was decided in 2000, in which the State did not appeal.

>>Ted Simons:
Alright Bob, busy times at the Capitol. Thank you so much for joining us.

>>Bob Robb:
Good to be with you.

What's on?
  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