Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. The state Senate has released a budget proposal and ideas for a new child welfare agency continue to take shape. Here now to discuss these and other issues are Senate minority leader Anna Tovar, and house minority leader Chad Campbell. Good to see you both again. Thank you for joining us.
Anna Tovar and Chad Campbell: Thank you.
Ted Simons: Budget proposal out of the Senate here, thoughts.
Anna Tovar: Well, it is a very slim and trim budget that the Senate republicans have put out. Again, we -- I just finished a three-hour appropriation committee that addressed the budget itself. You know, we had less than hours to review this budget, and I'm sure that the public had less of an opportunity as well. In appropriations in the three hour meeting, we had zero public participation. It is very concerning how fast this budget is moving. And, again, no transparency process, no public participation. It lacks quite a bit of things in the budget.
Ted Simons: From over in the other chamber, what you have seen in the Senate proposal, what you are expecting from your own group of fellows there, thoughts.
Chad Campbell: Yeah, this budget just doesn't pass the test. I mean, it is not a good budget for the state at all. It is not close to the governor's budget. It probably is not going to be close to what we're proposing from the house democratic side and probably not close to what I think the speaker wants to see in his budget. But it is severely lacking funding in a couple of key areas. Education, one and then child welfare, CPS, child protective services, child support services, there is not enough money in there to get the job done. After all we learned from the CPS disaster, failings of the agency, the fact that the Senate president is pushing out a budget that doesn't address that is unacceptable.
Ted Simons: $31 million for the CPS successor, $5 million for the transition. I think that is mostly a place holder here. Governor wants $81 million. Is this the Senate president and Senate republicans saying this is a starting point, we can move from here.
Anna Tovar: No, I believe it is just an exercise in futility. This definitely throws a monkey wrench into the whole process. It doesn't fully fund and have a solid commitment of an investment in public education, and as Representative Campbell mentioned, the CPS, you know, placeholder. If we learned something from last year in the fiasco is that we have to address this issue properly. And coming out with a budget such as this really leaves us vulnerable to what happened last year with our uninvestigated cases.
Ted Simons: The Senate version I think is $9.2 billion in spending, $100 million more than last fiscal year, that is an increase, is it not?
Chad Campbell: Yes, it is. The math is an increase, definitely. But it is not enough. And we're coming out of recession. We have had five, six years of massive cuts to our infrastructure, massive cuts to education most notably. And for all of the touting that Governor Brewer does of the track record under education, education governor, she has cut funds for schools than any other governor in the history of state. We have to catch up. We have to reinvest. $100 million simply isn't going to do it. We have money again. We have needs. We need to use the money to fulfill the needs just like you would in your personal budget. If you hadn't been making money and all of the sudden you started to make money again and your kids needed things for school, clothing, food, you would make sure that you started to buy those things. You wouldn't sit on that money. You would spend it so your family was better off.
Ted Simons: There are some things in the Senate proposal that goes against the governor in a curious way. Highway user funds. Sounds as though the Senate is saying we can transition some of that money back to where it is supposed to go in the first place. Governor's proposal had nothing there.
Anna Tovar: That is an important issue. Think you have an agreement with all parties in the legislature -- we have an infrastructure that is crumbling. Outside of Maricopa county, we have streets, roads in cities and counties that are falling apart and that are a safety hazard for many of the constituents. The issue addresses the issue of tourism. We have to have the infrastructure in place. The issue, it has bipartisan support, you know, from people there at the capitol and from cities and towns. It is definitely a step in the right direction if we want to move Arizona forward.
Ted Simons: How many steps in the right direction does there need to be for democrats to say, you know, you're going to wind up with option A, option B, and maybe an option C.
Chad Campbell: Yes.
Ted Simons: But none of those options are going to be democratic proposals. At what point do you choose one or do you just say can't go there?
Chad Campbell: You know, I don't know. We have to see. What we would like to see, though, is for us to be at the table like we were last year under the Medicare debate -- job creation -- I think that is what the people of the state want. I think people are sick of partisan politics. Sick of one party dominating, be it the republicans here, democrats somewhere else. They want the parties to work together. When we work together what we get is usually a better result and that is something we can do here with the budget.
Ted Simons: Nothing in here for the common core -- that has to change. The governor is big on this. I know a lot of folks. Is that the kind of thing, like Medicaid last session, you could find yourself in a coalition making change?
Anna Tovar: I believe education is the key for us to move the state forward. This issue of the common core or lack of the funding in the current budget is a big issue. Currently the -- in the past week, in the Senate, we've essentially killed four anti-common core bills. That was joined together with democrats and republicans. Now we see a republican budget that says just the opposite. That says we're against common core. Again, does it have -- this budget has no money for the assessments. So, it really is detrimental to our schools. They have invested millions of dollars, thousands of hours in time in training our teachers and yet, you know, they're taking extreme position right now of not moving our educational system forward. The other issue as well in education is not properly funding in public education. We see bills in not only the house and Senate that give funding to private schools. We are handing over taxpayer money without any accountability and encouraging -- we have our superintendent, a public education -- he is a superintendent of public education, not private education. He is essentially giving money to private schools.
Ted Simons: Certainly making robo-calls to that effect. You have education. You also have CPS successor here. I will call it the successor because we don't know what it is going to be called. That could be a position in which democrats again could find themselves in a coalition. We're seeing like maybe draft work coming up here. What are we hearing?
Chad Campbell: In the initial stages. Don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves. Agreement between some republicans and democrats, separate the agency, reform in how the cases are handled from the intake and -- and we need to get money. If you look at this budget that senator Biggs put out, again, there is not enough money for caseworkers. It doesn't come near close enough in terms of meeting funding priorities that the governor has outlined and I think most of us on the democratic side agree with when it comes to fixing CPS. One thing that we need to focus on and this is where I think the democrats and a group of republicans could join together, preventative services to help keep children out of the CPS in the first place. Child care subsidy, fund that program again, allow the single mothers going back to work and have the child in child care instead of leaving them home with -- we need to put child care subsidies back in the budget. It should be a priority. I think we can get that done this year.
Ted Simons: Audits, oversight could be part of the plan -- good ideas?
Anna Tovar: Absolutely good ideas. If we are going to learn from our mistakes, we must address the real issues. Draft legislations that are coming out. Again, the issue of preventative and intervention services needs to be tackled, and, again, the issue of neglect, what the focus is of the new agency is it going to be solely on child safety? Is it going to be again incorporating child prevention services and intervention services? Today, I mean, it is a perfect opportunity for us to set the reset button on CPS and we need to do it jointly and work together on this process.
Ted Simons: Before we go, new registration, voter registration numbers are out.
Chad Campbell: Yes.
Ted Simons: Independents are number one, which is a surprise. Republicans number two. Democrats are not only number three, they have lost -- you guys have lost ground even more. What is going on out there and how do you -- I mean, we understand -- how do you address it?
Chad Campbell: Yeah, I think there is two things going on. I think this is a trend we're seeing nationwide first of all. Independent affiliation is growing as people I think are getting fed up with partisan politics and I think a lot of that is coming from D.C. and filtering to the local level. Younger people are registering as independents more and more. And even though they're probably going to register as independent, they're probably going to vote more with democrats than they do with republican because they're probably more progressive on the social issues. I -- just because they're registering I does not mean they don't affiliate many ways with democrats as --
Anna Tovar: You have the issue with, Garner much attention and have people come out and register. As representative Campbell said, yes, more independents being registered. The issues presented at the state capitol, political bills being presented will engage not only the Latino community, but include the LGBT community, come out and voice their disagreement with what is happening at the capitol and, again, we have great candidates that are running for office that will engage voters and have them come out and turn out the vote here in Arizona.
Chad Campbell: I'm happy people are registering as independent. I hope they look at parties -- and actually look at candidates. I think that is better for our side than their side in our state. I hope these independents will start to vote in primaries. That's where the elections are being decided and we are seeing more extremism and more division because you have a small group of people, especially on the republican side, controlling the outcome of the elections and they do not reflect the vast majority of voters.
Ted Simons: Again, what you think and hoping is happening out there, and what is happening is people are falling off of the Democratic Party bus why and what do you plan to do to address it?
Anna Tovar: As far as the Democratic Party, we have a plan to go out and engage voters and register them as well. Like representative Campbell said people need to be engaged in the primaries. That is the focus of turning Arizona blue. You know, in the coming future as well. But, again, it is about looking and holding our elected officials accountable. It is one thing to say you support education and it is another thing to vote. Holding our public officials accountable, getting engaged in the process. That is essentially what I think every Arizonan wants.
Ted Simons: We have to stop it right there.
Anna Tovar and Chad Campbell: Thank you.