Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

June 12, 2008

Host: Ted Simons

state Budget

  • state representatives Tom Boone and Phil Lopes talk about the state budget and the lack of progress on it.
  • Tom Boone - Republican State Representative, House majority leader
  • Phil Lopes - Democratic State Representative, House minority leader

View Transcript
>>>Larry Lemmons:
Well still no state budget for the fiscal year, some blame the continued absence of Senate President Tim Bee, campaigning for Congress, others say it's because Republicans want more cuts than Democrats and the governor are willing to accept. Here to talk about the state budge and other issues, Republican Representative Tom Boone, house majority leader, and Democratic Representative Leader Phil Lopes, minority leader in the House. Thank you for making the trip to Tempe to talk about the budget that's not happening so far. Representative Boone, where are we so far?

>>Tom Boone:
I think you introduced it as still no progress, no budget. And that's true. We're not finished yet. But I think we need to put it in perspective. When we came into the session, we came in with a current year budget problem in addition to a new year budget problem, new year next year '09, went from $600 million shortfall in august of this year up to 1.2 billion and then finally when we put together an '08 budget it was actually a solution that was $1.37 billion that actually is probably going to grow to around 1.4, 1.5. So it was a very complex solution because it was a moving target. Same for '09, our economy's deteriorating and we've been very deliberate in how we're going about solving the budget problems for '09. So you may not think there's progress because you don't see anything yet, but we're being very deliberate in our process and I think the Arizona people should expect that of us because we've made a lot of progress in areas like education, for example, increased funding and k12 into the classroom and don't want to undo those kind of things. So I want them to expect us to be deliberate in going about this, crafting a solution that works.

>>Larry Lemmons:
Sorry to interrupt. Representative Lopes, as representative Boone was saying, a moving target, do you agree with that?

>>Phil Lopes:
I do agree with that. But what we've done I think that makes sense given that moving target is we've set ourselves a number of what the deficit is. Now when we set that number, some months ago, that's now changed. But continuing to use that same number and understanding we'll have to make some adjustments as we go along is a normal part of this process.

>>Larry Lemmons:
Do you agree with some of the criticism coming from some quarters that the Senator Bee's absence has been causing perhaps an extension of his budget process?

>>Phil Lopes
What's caused the extension of the budget process is that the Republicans, Mr. Boone, is -- has taken some time that he thinks he needs in order to reach some consensus among his members, so I'm not sure I would blame any one thing for this delay. And the other part of it too is even when we do get together, it's very difficult to reach some consensus, and I know the public sometimes says, you know, why can't these guys just, you know, decide this thing, it should be fairly easy. Well, I would remind people who feel that way, to remember the last time the family tried to decide what movie to go to or what to have for dinner, it's not as easy as it seems from the outside.

>>Larry Lemmons:
Senator Bee's absence, is that a problem?

>>Tom Boone:
No, it hasn't been a problem at all. In fact Phil mentioned we had taken some time to go back to our members, and we've done that in both the House and Senate. And the reason for that is the changing number, you know, we did agree about $1.9 billion is what we're looking at in terms of agreed upon number at this point for '09. But we'll probably end up crafting a solution I would suspect like '08 that has some flexibility and quite honestly we've taken the time to poll members again because the basic difference if you will of opinion has been between the Democrats and the governor on one side, wanting more borrowing and not making spending reductions, and on the Republican side making more reductions to help balance our revenues and expenditures. I think that -- I think that there's no question in my mind that we'll be back at this at least one more time in '09, because there's just too many variables, too many things changing, and I think even to change a number like 1.9 now, I'm not so sure we need to do that, even because I think we all need to realize going into '09 we're going to be back at this at least one more time.

>>Larry Lemmons:
This might be a diverse, but I have read, Senator Jay and Carolyn Allen, both Republicans, were complaining about what they might see as the politicization of this process, rather than focusing on the budget. Republicans are focusing on getting Senator Bee elected.

>>Tom Boone:
Well, again, Senator Bee there's a lot of people running for office down there right now.

>>Phil Lopes:

>>Tom Boone:
Everybody. Nearly everybody's running for office. And I'm sure individuals think about, you know, their elections of course. But in terms of Senator Bee specifically, it has not held up our process in any way. We've gone on with our members and the Senate's gone on with our members, and there's many times that all of us aren't there for every single meeting, just happens that way. But the process goes on and it has gone on. It hasn't affected it one bit.

>>Larry Lemmons:
Representative Lopes, would you agree with Representative Boone, primarily Democrats and governor want to borrow money and Republicans want to cut spending?

>>Phil Lopes:
That is one way to describe it. But I think it's slightly more complex than that. It's both ideological than I think practical. The ideological part of it is that Democrats generally speaking want -- see this as a problem that needs to be solved. We have insufficient revenues for the programs that we want to keep and grow as Mr. Boone says, we've made some real progress in the last few years, and we want to keep that up. And so we see that as a problem that needs to be managed. And I would characterize the Republican position as one of pursuing an ideological agenda which is one of cutting the size of government. They see the cuts as ways of -- as a way to cut the size of government, which is an ideological position. We, on the other hand, are trying to fix this thing without making sacrifices that we have fought very hard over the last few years to achieve. So I think the delay is several things, both ideological and practical.

>>Larry Lemmons:
Go ahead. You want to comment on that?

>>Tom Boone:
I was just going to situate in terms of manage, of course, it's a management problem. We're going to have to manage the budget. But in so managing I think we need to recognize that if revenues continue to stagnate and or go down, I mean, expenditure levels have to go down. You simply can't continue to borrow and borrow and borrow, because there has to be a way in the foreseeable future of paying it back, otherwise you'd be managing the state basically into a situation where a huge tax increase is going to be necessary to even balance the budget. and that's what we want to avoid because we believe that would hurt the prosperity of Arizona significantly if that happens.

>>Larry Lemmons:
Excuse me.

>> Larry Lemmons:
We only have about 15 seconds, do you anticipate a summer session?

>>Phil Lopes:
No, I don't anticipate a summer session because it's an election year and we're all running for office. As we've pointed out. But I do expect that there may need to be a special session either later on this calendar year or early in the next session, because as Mr. Boone mentions, this is a moving target and we may have to come back and fix it some more.

>>Tom Boone:
We agree upon that.

>>Larry Lemmons:
Ok, Representative Lopes and Representative Boone, thanks for joining us.

>>Tom Boone:
Thank You.

>>Phil Lopes:
You're welcome.

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