Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

August 19, 2009

Host: Ted Simons

Legislative Update

  • Arizona Capitol Times reporter Jim Small has the latest on the legislature’s efforts to send another budget to the Governor.
  • Jim Small - Arizona Capitol Times
Category: Government

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Good evening, welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. State lawmakers are almost ready to send a budget to Governor Jan Brewer, but first they're trying to convince her to sign it. The latest budget does not refer a temporary sales tax to the ballot, something the governor has insisted on in the past. Joining me with the latest on all this is Jim Small of the "Arizona Capitol Times." Good to see you again. I'm not going to say déjà vu all over again, but this budget looks an awful lot like the last budget.

Jim Small:
It's very similar to the one that went up July 1, and was subsequently -- the bulk of it was vetoed. There are a couple of minor changes made here and there to either capture some votes or fix some things that maybe weren't quite right -- the way they should have been in the original bill. And there's also a provision to fix another mortgage bill that was passed in the session that the banking industry and the realtor -- realty industry is not a problem that they're going to correct.

Ted Simons:
No sales tax increase. What about the $400 million in tax cuts?

Jim Small:
That's an issue that was tied to that sales tax increase. They were put together to try to get the conservative Republicans to vote for the sales tax referral. So those were kind of part and parcel the same thing. There's really not going to be any substantial new tax breaks or tax increases in this package, as it stand right now. Of course legislature comes back in to special session tomorrow, there's always a chance they could find that magical 16th vote in the senate, and people have been working at that ever since the tax referral failed last week. It's been kind of an around the clock nonstop, turning over every stone to get that last vote.

Ted Simons:
The spending caps that were mentioned in the past, are they still there?

Jim Small:
The spending caps, I believe they're still in the budget. This was all kind of thrown in there together. The idea is to try -- actually, I think they're back. The spending cap was part of the bill, the tax referral bill. That was tied to the tax referral. It would have said to voters that we're going to raise the taxes, but we're not going to spend it on new government. So that's out. You're left with -- really you're left with a lot of the package that was sent already to her and vetoed a month and a half ago.

Ted Simons:
Vetoed with words like "fatally flawed." "This will decimate the state" in certain respects. What are the chances the governor this time will say, OK?

Jim Small:
We don't know. No one knows. That's a question I know I think that everyone has been asking everyone else at the capitol. I've asked dozens of people, that I've had dozens of people ask me that. What's the governor going to do? Are they even going to send the bills to her tomorrow? Most assume they probably will send the built to her, because they want to send the property tax bill to her tomorrow, and they need to do that -- get that signed by Friday if Maricopa and Pima counties will send out bills with that lower tax rate. So there seems to be a deadline with that, and they want to send all the bills together.

Ted Simons:
Democrats, are they still not a factor down there?

Jim Small:
Democrats as a whole are not a factor there. Are a couple of individual democrats in the senate that Republican leaders and the governor's office have approached that tried to bring on board and tried to make that 16th vote so far. They obviously haven't been able to do it. They're still stuck at 15 Republicans and the democrats that we've been talking to have said, yeah, maybe we've been approached, but we've been telling them, here's the list of what we had on the Democratic budget. Here's what you need to do to get me on board.

Ted Simons:
As for the Republicans, what happens to the caucus if the governor once again vetoes this budget?

Jim Small:
If the governor vetoes this budget, I can't even imagine what the scene is going to be like at the capitol. It's going to be going back to square one for the second time since really the fiscal year began. The July 1 veto, they vetoed everything but the main spending bill, which allowed state government to avoid a shutdown, but sent them realistically back to square one, was trying to figure out where to go from here and how to proceed forward and get a balanced budget.

Ted Simons:
We're going to have state treasurer Dean Martin on tomorrow to talk about what he's trying to let legislators know, and that is, we're running out of money.

Jim Small:
He said that we're spending money faster now than we were a year ago at this time. $100 million more a month is going out the doors right now than it was last year, even after all the budget maneuvering that's been done.

Ted Simons:
So reconvene, both chambers reconvene tomorrow. Not necessarily they'll send her the bill, and not necessarily we'll find out what she's going to do with it, but something could happen tomorrow.

Jim Small:
It could. It could be anything from just -- nothing happening, to them sending the bills back and forth from chamber to chamber and up to the governor's office. Or even the -- still the possibility of the vote on the tax referral.

Ted Simons:
Very good. Jim thanks for joining us.

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