Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

September 1, 2009


Host: Ted Simons

State Budget Politics


  • Senator Jay Tibshraeny, a Chandler Republican, talks about the politics of what’s been a painful process to pass a state budget.
Guests:
  • Jay Tibshraeny - State Senator
Category: Government

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Governor Jan Brewer has until Saturday to sign the eight budget bills remaining on her desk. None of them contain the temporary sales tax referral she's fought for all year along. Here to talk about the politics of what’s been a painful budget process is Senator Jay Tibshraeny, a Chandler Republican. Glad to have you back on the show.

Sen. Jay Tibshraeny: Glad to be here.

Ted Simons: What is the latest? What's new as of 30 minutes ago?

Sen. Jay Tibshraeny: Kind of a soap opera. Today was kind of an up and down day. I woke up, talked to a few people on both sides of the equation that were working on it. The early rumor was that she was throwing her hands up, the Democrats were being unreasonable, she was going to sign the budget sent to her and be done with it. That was the rumor but it was pulled back. They continue to meet, they being the Governor, Republican leadership from the House and Senate, Democratic leadership from the House and the Senate. Before we went on to tape the show, they were meeting and exchanging proposals and talking about the budget and what they could do to maybe get this done and get her her sales tax referral.

Ted Simons: We've heard the bipartisan talks are on, then off, and on and off, and now it sounds like they are on.

Sen. Jay Tibshraeny: Right now they are on.

Ted Simons: Is anything coming out of these talks?

Sen. Jay Tibshraeny: I think they are defining some issues. Whether that gets us to a point that they can agree on issues is a different thing. There are some big stumbling blocks that make it hard to get it done in a short time. Negotiations like this, my prior experience, it's hard to do them in two weeks, kind of the time frame that it has to happen. Usually it takes a lot longer, a lot of give and take and hand-wringing. The time for hand-wringing is past because we're so late in the budget process or early in the budget year.

Ted Simons: Would you have liked to have seen these bipartisan talks happen earlier in the process?

Sen. Jay Tibshraeny: Because of what happened in the Senate, with our inability -- because of mainly two recalcitrant Republicans to get the sales tax referral out -- because of that, I would have -- in the Senate, I think we could have maybe got this done better in the Senate with a bipartisan approach. I think once the budget was vetoed on June 30th, July 1, start it then and get her sales tax referral. We had a budget out, but not a budget that the Executive Branch could support, because the Executive Branch, Governor Brewer's been very clear from Day 1, she wants the sales tax referral to be part of this. When you send her a budget without that -- she does have to sign that budget. So it would have probably been better for us in the Senate to start working July 1 with a bipartisan approach, because it takes time.

Ted Simons: We keep hearing from capitol reporters and those at the capitol, lawmakers and such, lobbyists, they have never seen anything like this. Do you agree?

Sen. Jay Tibshraeny: A lot of them have a lot more years in the process. I've followed politics a long time and this is my seventh year in the legislature. It's the craziest time I've seen in my seven years. To be into September and have this much uncertainty surrounding the budget process is unusual, to say the least.

Ted Simons: Do you consider yourself a moderate?

Sen. Jay Tibshraeny: I'm a pragmatic person and a centrist. I don't know what they refer to me as. In my caucus, I don’t know what they refer to me as. I used to be in the middle of my caucus and kept getting lopped off. I like to get things done and see when you have to negotiate and when you don't. You have to get things done, you have to get a budget done.

Ted Simons: Let's stick to the sales tax referral. How much is that splitting the Republican Party, from what you've seen in caucus and the general attitude down there? How much is that hurting the G.O.P.?

Sen. Jay Tibshraeny: It’s hurting the G.O.P because it's stopping the whole budget process from moving forward. We'll go to the people in charge with the blame, which is us the Republicans. When you say it's hurting or splitting the caucus of the G.O.P., when you look the House got it out with 32 Republican votes. The Senate had 15 Republican votes. If we would have had the two Republicans support it who served them, because it was a conservative tax referral bill, we wouldn't be here. We had 15 out of 18 Republicans supporting it. Unfortunately, you need 16 votes to get anything done, so we split. But Randy Pullen came out supporting the package. A lot of the conservative think tanks came out supporting the package. It's not split in that point. But it's been divisive with those that have split from supporting the package.

Ted Simons: The Governor says egos are at play from keeping her referral from going any farther to this point. Does she have a point there?

Sen. Jay Tibshraeny: I don't know. She's looking at it probably from her perspective. I don't know if it's necessarily egos, but it's certainly causing a lot of consternation right now.

Ted Simons: Why do you think and why have you heard that there is such hesitation to allow -- the Governor's not saying you will pass this temporary sales tax. She's just asking for it to be on the ballot for a later vote. Now, of course, deals have been made, but there are still some holdouts. What's going on? Why not let people vote on this?

Sen. Jay Tibshraeny: I think the ones that don't support the sales tax, the sales tax referral on that particular bill had significant income tax cuts down the road where it was revenue neutral or even a revenue deficit bill, because of the income tax cuts down the road. The few that didn't support it had an ideological vent that they were voting for a tax increase, although really they weren’t, they were voting to refer it to the ballot and let the public have a say. Do I want this and do I want the programs? The governor’s point is it's going to offend the voters to say that, it's going to be very difficult to balance the budget. We've already cut the budget significantly, and we'll have to do it more. Without a revenue enhancement we'll see more cuts. Her point was, can the public maybe have a say in this. I don't think there's a problem with this. I, like most every Republican down there, supported this referral.

Ted Simons: Is it fair when the critics say the G.O.P, lawmakers at the Capitol are beholden to the ideology, Grover Norquist, no tax increase at any time. Is that a fair assessment?

Sen. Jay Tibshraeny:I think there is a small segment that are, but again when you are dealing with trying to do a budget within your caucus, even a small number of people will keep that from happening. I think there is a small number of people that feel that way. Yeah, there are some that are like that.

Ted Simons: Do you think voters will approve a temporary sales tax increase?

Sen. Jay Tibshraeny: Those things are difficult to pass. I saw what happened in California, it went down. I wouldn't predict. I've seen at the city level some of those issues have passed. But I think in this climate it's 50/50 at best.

Ted Simons: You mentioned the climate. Again, critics are saying that you've got a Republican governor, you've got a Republican-dominated legislature, and you've got what most are saying is craziness going on that they have never seen before. They say this proves the G.O.P. as it stands right now in Arizona can't govern. Your response?

Sen. Jay Tibshraeny: Well, I think we can govern, but we have these philosophical differences stopping this one issue from moving forward. Again, that one issue is stopping the whole budget from being finalized. Yeah, I don't think it bodes well that we’re at this gridlock. Hopefully in the next week or so the gridlock will be over. I don't think anybody would dispute that it's hurting us in the public's eyes. I would like to see it come to a successful resolution.

Ted Simons: When it comes to a resolution, successful or otherwise, what do Republicans need to do to get people to start thinking of the party, in perhaps different ways than they are thinking right now?

Sen. Jay Tibshraeny: Well, with the few votes we needed to pick up in the Senate, they are not going to change their mind, the two senators that didn't support it the day we voted on the tax. They are not going to change their mind for whatever reason. So that's the work with the Democrats. Again, working with the Democrats, to bring them in now, which I think is good, maybe we should have been doing this before, at least after the first veto. It just takes time, so whether that can happen or not, I don't know. I don't see the Republicans that didn't support the referral -- I don't see any of them changing their minds.

Ted Simons: All right, very good. Thanks for being on the program.

Sen. Jay Tibshraeny: Thanks for having me.

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