Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

April 22, 2009


Host: Ted Simons

Legislative Update


  • Arizona Capitol Times reporter Jim Small brings viewers up to date on the latest from the state capitol.
Guests:
  • Jim Small - Arizona Capitol Times


View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Good evening, and welcome to “Horizon.” I'm Ted Simons. The senate appropriations committee had planned to hear budget bills tomorrow, however, that meeting has been canceled. But state lawmakers have not been totally unproductive this week. They voted yesterday to approve emergency bills that will allow the state to get federal stimulus money to extend unemployment and to get more cash for Access. That's the state's health plan for the poor. Here to talk about that and more is Arizona Capitol Times reporter Jim Small. Jim, good to see you. Thanks for joining us.

Jim Small:
Thanks for having me, Ted.

Ted Simons:
The schedules and the budget hearings were on, off, on, off...what's going on with this?

Jim Small:
Well, like you said, there was a meeting scheduled for tomorrow, Thursday, to ostensibly put a budget through and really kind of hit high gear on this process. Senate leadership came out yesterday and said, well, we were hoping to do Thursday but we're not going to. You know, we're still working with our members trying to make sure everyone's clear on what the plan is and I think really what it is is trying to make sure they have the votes they need. I think they really want 16 votes in the senate and 31 republican votes in the house before they move forward. The new date that they're looking at is going to be Tuesday. Senator Russell Pierce, chairman of the senate appropriations committee, said today they're shooting for a Tuesday date to do the appropriations committee and to go ahead and try to move forward with the budget. The house is tentatively planning the same thing although they are still meeting in one on one meetings with their members, members going in and meeting with leadership talking about the budget, continuing through Monday. So depending on how those go and whether they can get through the entire caucus I think might determine how the house acts.

Ted Simons:
As the senate president says, there's a proposal but not necessarily an agreement. Explain.

Jim Small:
Right. What's happened is house and senate leadership have been meeting for months on the idea of the 2010 budget. And they put out a draft proposal about 3 and 1/2 weeks ago that had a several hundred million dollar hole and then a week after that the deficit estimate got revised and it was even bigger, so you're looking at about a $500 million hole they're trying to fill. What happened was leadership came to an agreement on a list of options that they have to fill that hole, so they're going to membership, going to members and saying ok, here what's we have on the table. Here what's we've decided. Here what's this does and this does and this does, and they want them to basically weigh in on the list of options so they can try to figure out how to solve this budget problem without raising taxes.

Ted Simons:
And they think we can get close to a breakthrough by Tuesday?

Jim Small:
Yeah, they're hopeful that they'll, I guess, probably be able to vote on something, not just in committee but move it through to the floor and try to really go the whole way with it.

Ted Simons:
If nothing else it suggests things are getting closer. Is that what the mood is there, that something's finally happening?

Jim Small:
Something's happening, I don't know how close we're really getting yet. The Republican leadership has been meeting with Governor Brewer's office but I don't think they've hit the point in the negotiations you get to every year where you know a deal is in the offing and something's coming down the pike. First things first, they're trying to get their members on board with whatever the plan is they have. I think once they get those votes, we'll see how they handle, whether they go to the floor right away or whether they take it and go to Governor Brewer's office and say look, here's the plan we've got. You know, weigh in on it. And we want to, you know, see what you like and what you don't like so we can, you know, try to hash this thing out.

Ted Simons:
You also wrote for the Capitol Times regarding an apparent challenge to John McCain coming from his right flank. Founder of the Minutemen, huh?

Jim Small:
Yeah, one of the co-founders of the Minuteman Project and founder of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, Chris Simcox. He is nationally known for his opposition to a lot of border security issues we've had and really trying to get the country to be more secure and fight against illegal immigration. He announced, made it official today. Word kind of leaked out yesterday that he was going to challenge him.

Ted Simons:
Response from G.O.P. lawmakers you talked to? What was the mood there regarding this kind of challenge?

Jim Small:
Certainly a number of conservative lawmakers were in attendance at the press conference today at the capitol, and they support him. Representative Carl Seal from Anthem and Senator Jack Harper from up in Surprise both introduced Mr. Simcox. I think people are still kind of waiting to see exactly what kind of operation he's going to have. And certainly McCain has a large following in Arizona, not just at the capitol, but amongst voters, and so it will be interesting to see how this plays out and interesting to see whether Simcox is able to raise the kind of money that it's certainly going to take to challenge John McCain.

Ted Simons:
The mood you got down there at least from state lawmakers was this is a fellow who could at least bring up issues? Is there an honest thought he could challenge senator McCain?

Jim Small:
In some circles some look at Simcox and say he can operate a grassroots campaign, look at the Minuteman thing, it was all grassroots, no kind of organization or whole lot of money behind that campaign. So they see him as being able to get those voters and collect donations from around the country because he's well-known by people across the United States who are opposed to illegal immigration.

Ted Simons:
Indeed. Can't let you go without finding out who won the softball game?

Jim Small:
The house, as they have for six years in a row, beat the senate.

Ted Simons:
What’s going on with that, is there some sort of dynasty? Were there any Donny Brooks, or melees, or brushbacks?

Jim Small:
No, I don't think there was anything like that this year.

Ted Simons:
That's a shame.

Jim Small:
The house has had the senate's number for a number of years now.

Ted Simons:
Okay. Jim, thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.

Jim Small:
Thanks, Ted.

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