Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

September 2, 2009


Host: Ted Simons

Legislative Update


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

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Good evening, welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Maricopa county judge says it's OK to make electric utilities get some energy from renewable sources in 2006 the Arizona corporation commission adopted rules that require utilities to get 15% of their energy from renewable resources by 2025. The Goldwater institute challenged the commission's constitutional authority to set those rules but superior court judge Joseph Heilman ruled the commission does have the right to require renewable energy in an attempt to control costs for utilities and ratepayers in the long run. Governor Jan Brewer has canceled a trip to Mexico. She'll be staying in the state to deal with the budget. She has until Saturday to sign or veto the budget bills. Rumors are flying about what she'll do and here to talk about the situation is Arizona capitol times reporter Jim Small. Good to see you again, thanks for joining us.

Jim Small:
Yeah, thanks for having me back.

Ted Simons:
All right. She cancels a trip to Mexico, what does it mean?

Jim Small:
Means the budget hasn't been resolved yet, the simplest way to look at the situation. Some people had kind of thought it was odd there was this thing on her schedule and marked as tentative when her schedule came out last week, but it said she's going to be in Mexico from Wednesday through Friday for the board of governor's conference they were having, an event down there, so people kind of looked at that and said this is going to be kind of weird because the budget's not resolved, the bills are still on her desk, you know, is she actually going to go this or not and she came out yesterday and saying budget -- this whole situation hasn't been fixed. Bills haven't been acted on, so I'm going to stay in town.

Ted Simons:
There was a bit of a rumor, I don't know how serious but entertain, the idea if she were to leave for the border governor's conference, the guy in charge becomes Terry Goddard, attorney general, because secretary of state was appointed not elected and thus can't succeed. He would have the power of governor while she were gone, and he could just basically say hey, I'm governor, veto.

Jim Small:
Yes, he could have. It was something I think, you know, a lot of people that watch the capitol were interested in exactly that issue, you know, ok. So now you're going to have a Democrat who could be in charge with a republican budget that still hasn't been acted on. And that made people go really she can't be serious about going to Mexico at this point. If she's going to go, she's going to have to act on it before this trip begins and before she leaves the state. I don't know if Terry Goddard would have done it or not. We called his official and asked his spokesperson and she said, well, you know, we're not really going to say what would happen if that were the case but it certainly made for some interesting discussion in the newsroom and in political circles.

Ted Simons:
Indeed. Now, let's talk about discussions, bipartisan, whatever you want to call them now, between the governor, Democrats, and Republican leadership. On again or off again?

Jim Small:
The five-way talks that have been happening for a week and a half or so are dead. Each had counterproposals and neither could agree. They had a couple of just critical philosophical differences they didn't seem they would be able to bridge so they kind of both sides walked out of the meeting and went I don't know if we're even going to have any more of these meetings, I don't see what the point is. Neither side seems willing to budge on these issues. Meantime you have had senate Democrat leadership meeting with both the governor's office and senate republican leadership, as, you know, in what a lot of people are looking at as maybe a little bit of a side deal to see if the governor and senate president Bob burns can come to an arrangement to get some of the senate Democrats to buy in on that ballot that sales tax ballot referral, which would eliminate a lot of the problems and consternation over the fate of the budget bills.

Ted Simons:
Are there Democrats down there that you know of or you've heard about that might be willing to go ahead and vote yes in return for something?

Jim Small:
There's been a lot of speculation, you know, a number of names have been tossed about, as to, you know, this person could be bought off with maybe this program change or extra bit of funding in this area might sway a vote over here. But so far no one's actually committed to the point where they're comfortable taking it to the floor or, you know, even announcing anything or doing anything about it. One of the things I think that has been impressive to observers down at the capitol is how steadfast the Democrats have been in opposing what the republicans are doing and how well that they have actually stayed together. I think you usually see, you know, usually see Democrats, yeah, they oppose stuff but there's always a couple that get picked off for one reason or another and there hasn't been that this year, and it's considering the scope of the problem and how long this problem has dragged on, I think a lot of people have taken notice of that.

Ted Simons:
Ok, let's talk about more likely scenarios than the governor leaving and attorney general vetoing. The let's get back to reality here. She signs and blames Democrats, possible?

Jim Small:
A favorite in the clubhouse, as to what's going to happen, she would sign it and Democrats say these cuts are deep, I called these cuts terrible before and they are terrible but the only reason they're this terrible was because Democrats wouldn't come on board and that's why we're cutting education, public safety, healthcare.

Ted Simons:
Another scenario, she signs some of the budget bills, but vetoes some of the others, including the state property tax equalization rate and calls a special session and we go through the process again.

Jim Small:
I think that's the other most likely scenario here, that at least as far as what people are talking about. The reality is that we just really don't even know what's going to hatch, you know, governor Brewer has played this very close to the vest as she has, you know, with regards to with budget issues for much of the year. There hasn't been a whole lot of -- they haven't dipped their hand very much the entire year, whether the vetoes the first round or reaction to various proposals republicans and legislatures floating out there. This times time it's not different, as to what way she's leaning or what she might do.

Ted Simons:
One more scenario probably relatively unlikely. But she does manage to get another vote from a republican, Gorman.

Jim Small:
Not likely. Senator Gorman seems very resolute in her opposition to this and Senator Allen is also very committed to her opposition to some of the proposals in the budget and on top of that she's also been ill so she has had difficulty, I don't even think she's had doctor's permission to make it down to the capitol.

Ted Simons:
Timeline what are we looking at here, what's next and deadlines are coming up as far as cash in the state as well. What's happening?

Jim Small:
We do have some deadlines, one of the bigger ones, the department of public safety, because of the way the budget bills were signed and vetoed, back in the first part of July, D.P.S. has all this money they can see with you don't have statutory authority to act on it, so they've gotten fronted a portion of the money, of the general fund money they were suppose food get throughout the year. It's kept them open for 2 1/2 months, but if they don't get money by September 11th, if this budget bill, the budget bill pertaining to criminal justice isn't signed by September 11th, then they're going to be running out of cash and facing a possible shutdown.

Ted Simons:
All right. So we should see something you think by the next few days.

Jim Small:
Well, yeah, we have to see something by Saturday, so.

Ted Simons:
All right. Well, at least we know she's not going to go to Mexico, so we've got something. Jim, thanks for joining us, we appreciate it.

Jim Small:
Thank you.

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