Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

January 21, 2009


Host: Ted Simons

Legislative Update


  • Arizona Capitol Times reporter Jim Small reports on the latest from the state legislature.
Guests:
  • Jim Small - Reporter, Arizona Capitol Times
Category: Legislature

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Tonight on "Horizon," a new governor of Arizona. Governor Jan Brewer was sworn in this afternoon. We'll have an update on that, plus other activities at the State Capitol. Speaking of the Capitol, lawmakers are suggesting big cuts for higher education. Hear reaction from the three Presidents of Arizona's universities. That's coming up next on "Horizon."

Announcer:
"Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the Friends of 8, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

Ted Simons:
Hello, and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Governor Jan Brewer was sworn in today. She took over after former Governor Janet Napolitano was confirmed as the new Homeland Security Secretary. Governor Brewer spoke to the assembled crowd after being sworn in.

Ruth MacGregor:
I, Janice K. Brewer, do solemnly swear --

Jan Brewer:
I, Janice K. Brewer, do solemnly swear --

Ruth MacGregor:
That I will support the constitution of the United States --

Jan Brewer:
That I will support the constitution of the United States --

Ruth MacGregor:
And the constitution and laws of the state of Arizona.

Jan Brewer:
And the constitution and laws of the state of Arizona.

Ruth MacGregor:
That I will be bear true faith and allegiance to the same.

Jan Brewer:
I will bear true faith and Allegiance to the same.

Ruth MacGregor:
And defend them against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

Jan Brewer:
And defend them against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

Ruth MacGregor:
And I will faithfully and impartially --

Jan Brewer:
And I will faithfully and impartially --

Ruth MacGregor:
Discharge the duties of the office of Governor --

Jan Brewer:
Discharge the duties of the office of Governor --

Ruth MacGregor:
According to the best of my ability --

Jan Brewer:
According to the best of my ability --

Ruth MacGregor:
So help me God.

Jan Brewer:
So help me God.

[Applause]

Ruth MacGregor:
Congratulations.

Jan Brewer:
One reason life is such a delightful adventure is that we never know exactly what it's going to bring. No one ever knew that this would bring me here. But one thing is certain, there is no place I would rather be. Of course, this turn of events has not been cause for universal celebration. In some quarters, this inauguration feels a great deal more like an interruption. And in a few ways, good ways, we hope it will be. But I pledge today to be a Governor for all of Arizona and to lead our state to better times. Together we will do what we have to do without pettiness, without melodrama or misregard or misplaced regard for our party. And we will succeed.

Ted Simons:
Arizona Capitol Times reporter Jim Smalls was at the inauguration. He's here to talk about that, as well as what lawmakers are working on. Good to have you here, thanks for joining us.

Jim Small:
Thanks for having me.

Ted Simons:
What did Governor Brewer say, or hint at, at least as far as policy?

Jim Small:
One thing she made abundantly clear was that there's going to be an economic stimulus package of sorts for Arizona. Not in terms of the state spending money to try to get the economy going, but more in terms of setting policy to let Arizona's economy recover from this quickly. She spoke of lowering taxes and lessening the burden on businesses through government regulation. She rattled off a number of things, everything from school choice down to just the way people live their lives and trying to get government out of people's lives more. That was the central theme of her speech that that would really help Arizona move forward from this point.

Ted Simons:
So ideological in that aspect, kind of hinting at that's the way she's going to Govern.

Jim Small:
Absolutely. She hit the Republican high notes in the speech. I talked to a couple of lawmakers afterwards and they said, look, she said everything that she needed to, that we wanted to hear as Republicans.

Ted Simons:
Okay. Let's talk about what's happening with lawmakers down there at the Capitol. I guess we had some sort of a fact-finding week going on down there. What's happening?

Jim Small:
The state senate, all of their committees are meeting but not hearing legislation like they normally would be at this time of year. Instead they are bringing in agencies and leaders of programs to explain what they're doing, and what they are using the money that the state's giving them for. The idea is to try to find out if there's any areas where an agency maybe is getting off mission. They call it mission creep in government parlance. The idea is to try to find places where the state can maybe save a little bit of money. These committees are all going to report to the appropriations committee, give their recommendations, then that committee will take that information and use it to craft the budget.

Ted Simons:
As far as things that look vulnerable right now, from a distance, from what you're hearing down there: things like KidsCare, all-day Kindergarten, K-through-12 education, higher education, which is what we're going to focus on here in a minute. What looks like it's maybe a little safer than previously thought, what looks like it's a goner?

Jim Small:
I think all those things are definitely on the table for cuts. Republican leadership has said time and time again they don't see any area of state government being spared. That goes from education, which takes up 40, 45\% of the state budget, to health care, which is another large portion of the budget all the way down to smaller items like the Department of Commerce and other smaller agencies. The State Mine Inspector, for instance, they recommended pretty severe cuts, you know, 10, 15\% cuts to the State Mining Inspector. It's a small budget, but it's 10 or 15\% in almost all agencies with a few exceptions for public safety. It's going to be a trying time for government programs.

Ted Simons:
Is there anything from former governor Janet Napolitano, any of her ideas regarding borrowing, fund transfers, tobacco tax money, these sorts of things. Any of that floating down there at all?

Jim Small:
So far none of those things have resonated with republican Leadership. I talked to house leadership the Day her budget came out. They said yeah, it's nice, we'll look at it, we'll see if there's any nuggets of wisdom we can pull from it, but for the most part we're going to set it aside and move forward. We have a new governor now, a governor who is more in line with our ideas of how the state should be run and what government should look like.

Ted Simons:
Tax increases. I mean, obviously Governor Brewer has said in the past on this program that everything is on the table, including taxes. Are tax increases on anybody else's table down there?

Jim Small:
People are dancing around the issue. No one wants to be the person to say, we want a tax increase. We need to raise taxes. That's never really good for someone's political career, and we have a lot of people who just got elected to go down there. No one wants to take that step. Combine that with the fact that you have a vast majority of the Legislature who has signed no new taxes pledges, so they are not inclined to do that. Governor Brewer said today you're not going to tax your way out of this problem. I think that that still fits with what you said before that it has to be on the table. Her greater point was more probably that you can't raise taxes without cutting state Government. There needs to be a shrinking of Government.

Ted Simons:
Jim thanks for joining us. Look forward to your update next Week.

Jim Small:
Thanks for having me.

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