Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

February 4, 2009

Host: Ted Simons

Legislative Update

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

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Good evening and welcome to “Horizon.” I’m Ted Simons. Over the weekend, state lawmakers patched a $1.6 billion hole in this year's budget and now working on next year's deficit. Here for an update is Jim Small legislative reporter with the "Arizona Capitol Times." Good to have you back Jim, thanks for joining us.

Jim Small:
Thanks for having me, Ted.

Ted Simons:
Budget matters. A little dustup down there involving the speaker and a chairmanship. What's going on?

Jim Small:
It revolves around an issue debated during the '09 budget on Friday, late Friday night. There was an amendment that basically took all of the money away from the 21st century fund which is a program put in place a couple of years ago. Governor Napolitano was a big proponent and it was the state put up $25 million to match private contributions that were raised by science foundation Arizona and the money was then used, doled out in grants to biotech companies and to try and build the biotech industry and bring in the high-paying jobs that politicians love to draw to the communities. Representative Sam Crump, a Republican from Anthem, worked with freshmen lawmakers and dug their heels in late on Friday and said we're not going to vote for a budget that doesn't take all of the money out of there. Up to that point, there was an agreement to take $15 million out of $22 million and they said no, unless you take the other $7 million, we're not going to vote for a budget. People were in meetings all day. Eventually all of that money was taken out of the budget. On Monday, word came out that house speaker Kirk Adams was taking the government committee chairmanship away from Mr. Crump. Kind of an, “I told you we didn’t want to do these light proceedings while we haggled over this thing. And so I’m going to take your chairmanship away from you.”

Ted Simons:
Representative Crump, he held a press conference or almost -- Where do we go from here?

Jim Small:
Yesterday afternoon he called a press conference and right before, there was an interaction between the speaker and Mr. Crump and they were going to try to work out the deal and try to patch things up and he came to the press conference and says, here what is going on. I've been removed. And lo and behold, we get a press release that he's going to remain the chair and work on the 2010 budget.

Ted Simons:
So ousted now reinstated. What’s the reaction from lawmakers over the dustup?

Jim Small:
It’s mixed. A lot of people trying to figure out what happened and a lot of the details between what happened between Representative Crump and Speaker Adams, and I’m sure there are a lot of lawmakers and observers who are trying to get a bead on what happened and what shifted, what changed in Speaker Adams mind.

Ted Simons:
And Representative Crump is making a lot of noise and pushing the photo radar. This is someone making noise quickly.

Jim Small:
Absolutely, that's one of the issues he's gone after that. I know there's an issue that recently gone through regarding fire sprinklers in homes and not requiring them to be there like some cities and counties have done and he's definitely -- people have talked about him as possibly looking at a congressional seat. He lives in Shadegg’s district so he might step in when Shadegg steps down.

Ted Simons:
Now that the dust has settled, the hearings for the 2010 budget happening this week, who is down there?

Jim Small:
A number of departments that are down there, I know today there were some drug and gang prevention folks. Talking tomorrow, I think AHCCCS and D.H.S. are going to come in and give their presentation on the budget for the upcoming year. And where they can get money from, that's not going to take away the federal money or isn't protected by voter protection. And things like that.

Ted Simons:
Still, budget things going on. What's going on in the house?

Jim Small:
The house is hearing bills in their committee. Moving things forward. There are a lot fewer bills than in past years and even with fewer bills it seems there's fewer bills going through the committees as well. The agendas are a lot smaller. One committee, this week is going to be its first meeting. There's not an emphasis on passing a lot of policy. Everyone's attention is focused on the budget right now.

Ted Simons:
Fallout from the '09 fix. What are you hearing from Democrats? It seems like rush job is the catch-phrase.

Jim Small:
Yeah, Democrats are very up -- upset. Republicans set a February 1st deadline and if they don't act, there be $160 million added to the deficit. Democrats rejected that and said it was an arbitrary deadline. That's three weeks after the session begins. It began January 12th. So what happened -- everything happened quickly and when things happen quickly there's not a lot of information that gets out. People don't get time to digest stuff and the Democrats have been vocal about what they said is a lack of transparency and Bob Burns and Kirk Adams ran for the leadership on trying to pull back the veil of government and let people see what's going on and get a handle on budget issues.

Ted Simons:
Yet we're hearing of Democrats who still can't figure out what exactly is in this fix.

Jim Small:
Right and Kirk Adams defended it Friday night. A couple times last week before the media and said, look, the '09 budget already had hearings in front of the public. They talked about this stuff. We gave everyone who wanted to speak at the Appropriations Committee hearings and voice their opinions, gave them amp time and it didn't curtail the debate. And in order to meet the deadline, you have to balance the idea of transparency versus the idea of speed and those are two things that become mutually exclusive and they tried to walk the line as fine as they could and ended up having to push forward.

Ted Simons:
Last question. Am I sensing or is this from reading at a distance, increased angst, returning money to Sheriff Arpaio to fight illegal immigration as opposed to giving it to other counties or not giving it out at all?

Jim Small:
It's definitely an issue as cuts come through for education and healthcare and they're going to point and they did it early Saturday morning when they were doing the vote, said we're cutting all of these vital programs and yet here's a program we're giving more money to and that doesn't make sense. And going forward, I’m sure that will be part of the discussion.

Ted Simons:
Very good, Jim. Thanks, as always.

Jim Small:
Thank you.

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