Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

February 10, 2010


Host: Ted Simons

Legislative Update


  • An Arizona Capitol Times reporter provides a mid-week legislative update.
Guests:
  • Jim Small - Arizona Capitol Times


View Transcript
Ted Simons: GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO "HORIZON." I'M TED SIMONS. THE HOUSE GIVES THE GO-AHEAD FOR A BUDGET PLAN THAT INVOLVES LEASE-BACK SALES OF STATE PROPERTY AS WELL AS BORROWING FROM FUTURE LOTTERY PROCEEDS. JOINING ME TO TALK ABOUT THAT AND OTHER NEWS FROM THE STATE CAPITOL IS JIM SMALL, A REPORTER FOR ARIZONA CAPITOL TIMES. THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

Jim Small: THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

Ted Simons: BEFORE WE GET TO THAT, APPARENTLY IT WAS QUITE THE DAY AT THE CAPITOL. TALK TO US ABOUT THIS.

Jim Small: YEAH, THERE WAS ONE FINAL BILL THAT WAS LEFT TO DO IN THE SPECIAL SESSION FOR THE BUDGET AND IT INVOLVED DELAYING ABOUT 450 MILLION DOLLARS WORTH OF PAYMENTS TO K-12 EDUCATION AND UNIVERSITIES BASICALLY PUTTING IT OFF INTO THE NEXT FISCAL YEAR. IT'S AN ACCOUNTING GIMMICK TO MAKE THE BOOKS BALANCE. WHAT ENDED UP HAPPENING, THE BILL WENT THROUGH THE SENATE BY BIPARTISAN SUPPORT AND CAME TO THE HOUSE. THERE WERE CONCERNS ABOUT WHETHER -- MEMBERS IN THE HOUSE WERE CONCERNED ABOUT ADDING ON MORE DEBT TO ESSENTIALLY WHAT'S ALREADY BEEN BORROWED. THERE WAS AN AMENDMENT THAT WAS PUT ON TODAY BY A REPUBLICAN FROM TUCSON NAMED FRANK ANTENORI. IT BASICALLY SAID, OK, THIS DELAY OF PAYMENT WILL GO THROUGH BUT ONLY AFTER THE SENATE APPROVES AND THE GOVERNOR SIGNS THE HOUSE JOBS BILL WE VOTED ON ABOUT TWO AND A HALF OR THREE WEEKS AGO. SO THAT HAPPENED. IT WAS AN AMENDMENT. HOUSE SPEAKER KIRK ADAMS I KNOW WHEN THE AMENDMENT WAS FIRST BROUGHT TO HIS ATTENTION WASN'T TOO HAPPY IT FROM THE PEOPLE I'VE TALKED WITH. HE HAD SPOKEN WITH MR. ANTENORI TO SEE IF THERE WAS A WAY TO KEEP THAT AMENDMENT FROM GOING ON. IT SIGNIFICANTLY CHANGES THE LANDSCAPE OF THINGS NOW. SO NOW YOU'RE AT A POINT WHERE THIS BILL BEING IS SENT BACK TO THE SENATE. THE SENATE HAS NO INTENTIONS OF HEARING THAT JOBS PACKAGE UNTIL AFTER ALL BUDGET WORK IS DONE SO THAT BILL IS, I THINK FOR ALL INTENTS AND PURPOSES, KIND OF DEAD.

Ted Simons: SO WHAT WAS THE PURPOSE OF AN AMENDMENT THAT REALLY WASN'T GOING TO GO ANYWHERE?

Jim Small: THE PURPOSE OF THE AMENDMENT, I THINK IN THE EYES OF YOU KNOW PEOPLE LIKE MR. ANTENORI AND IN MOST PEOPLE IN THE REPUBLICAN CAUCUS WAS TO, A, SHOW HOW SERIOUS THEY ARE ABOUT THIS JOBS' BILL, HOW MUCH THEY WANT THE SENATE TO ACT ON IT AND PASS IT AND, B, I THINK IT PROVIDED A LEVEL OF COMFORT FOR A NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHERE THEY SAID, YES, WE'RE BORROWING SOMETHING NOW BUT WE'RE NOT GOING TO IGNORE WHAT THEY SEE IS THE UNDERLYING CAUSE OF THE PROBLEM WHICH IS AN ECONOMY THAT'S TOO SUSCEPTIBLE TO SWINGS.

Ted Simons: SENATE PRESIDENT BURNS HAD TO WORK HARD TO GET BIPARTISAN SUPPORT FOR THE GOVERNOR'S PACKAGE, MOST NOTABLY THE SALES TAX INCREASE BUT THE ENTIRE PACKAGE THROUGH BY AMONG OTHER THINGS PROMISING DEMOCRATS NOT GOING TO BE LINKED TO FUTURE TAX CUTS OR OTHER IDEAS ESPECIALLY THE HOUSE OR JOB RECOVERY ACT. THAT'S WHEN DO TO THAT RELATIONSHIP?

Jim Small: ALL THE OTHER BILLS HAVE ALREADY BEEN SIGNED SO EVERYTHING -- ALL THE BORROWING AGAINST THE LOTTERY, SALES TAX, THE GENERAL CALLING OF THE SPECIAL ELECTION FOR THE SALES TAX, THAT'S ALL BEEN SIGNED. AS SOON AS THE SPECIAL SESSION INITIALLY ENDS, THOSE THINGS WILL BASICALLY GO INTO EFFECT OR THE TIMER WILL START FOR THOSE THINGS TO GO INTO EFFECT. IT KILLS THE EDUCATION MONEY BILL. AT THE END OF THE DAY, I DON'T KNOW WHAT IT'S IMPACT IS GOING TO BE. REPUBLICAN LEADERS SAY THEY'LL ROLL OUT THE BUDGET FIX FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR'S DEFICIT AND THE UPCOMING DEFICIT IN THE NEXT FEW WEEKS, MAYBE EVEN THE NEXT FEW DAYS. I’M SURE, I THINK AT THIS POINT EVEN THE EDUCATION, THE DEFERRAL PAYMENT WILL JUST BE ROLLED OVER. IT'LL JUST BE INCLUDED INTO WHATEVER THE NEW PACKAGE IS. SO I THINK THIS BORROWING AND THEN THIS -- THIS IS STILL GOING TO HAPPEN BUT IT'S JUST NOT GOING TO HAPPEN IN THE WAY THAT WAS ORIGINALLY PLANNED.

Ted Simons: LAST POINT ON THIS, DEMOCRATS COULDN'T BE TOO PLEASED.

Jim Small: DEMOCRATS WEREN'T PLEASED. A NUMBER OF THEM HAD -- WERE RELUCTANT ABOUT THE IDEA OF PUSHING OFF EVEN MORE MONEY TO EDUCATION BUT THEY SAW IT AS A BETTER ALTERNATIVE INSTEAD OF SPENDING CUTS OR INSTEAD OF SOME OF THE OTHER PROPOSALS REPUBLICANS HAD PUT OUT THERE EARLIER. SO THEY WERE GOING TO SUPPORT IT. I THINK IT PROBABLY -- IF IT HAD GONE UP THE WAY THAT IT PASSED THE SENATE IT PROBABLY WOULD HAVE PASSED. IT MAY NOT HAVE GOTTEN SO MANY REPUBLICAN VOTES BUT WOULD HAVE PICKED UP DEMOCRAT VOTES. AS IT WAS TODAY IT PICKED NO DEMOCRAT VOTES.

Ted Simons: BEFORE ALL OF THIS, WE HAD THE HOUSE PRETTY MUCH OKING THE BALANCED BUDGET PLAN. VERY CLOSE VOTE HERE. SWITCHING BACK AND TWITCHING GOING ON BEFORE THE FINAL VOTE?

Jim Small: YEAH, YEAH, THERE WAS SOME, ESPECIALLY IN YESTERDAY'S VOTE WHICH INVOLVED BORROWING AGAINST THE STATE LOTTERY AND SALE LEASE BACK OF MORE STATE PROPERTY, ANOTHER $350 MILLION, THAT ONE, THERE WAS A LOT OF BACK-AND-FORTH. REPUBLICANS IN THE HOUSE WERE REALLY WARY OF THE DEBT LEVEL OF WHAT THE STATE'S ALREADY BORROWED AND WHAT IT ALREADY COMMITTED TO PAY BACK OVER THE NEXT 20 YEARS AND THEY WERE REALLY CONCERNED ABOUT THE IDEA OF ADDING MORE ONTO THAT.

Ted Simons: AND THIS -- YOU'RE TALKING -- I THINK ONE OF THE REPUBLICAN LAWMAKERS MENTIONED THE STATE WILL HAVE TO PAY $350 MILLION A YEAR JUST FOR PMI JUST IN TERMS OF THAT?

Jim Small: YES. THEY'VE BORROWED, I MEAN, SOMEWHERE IN THE ORDER OF ALREADY MORE THAN $1 BILLION, MAYBE UP TO $2 BILLION. WHEN YOU LOOK AT THAT YOU'RE PAYING THAT BACK OVER 20 YEARS. THOSE INTEREST PAYMENTS START TO STACK UP. YOU HAVE TO PAY A LOT.

Ted Simons: YES, OK. LET'S GET TO A REPLACEMENT NOW IN THE SENATE. JIM WARING'S SEAT REPLACED. WHO IS ED BUNCH?

Jim Small: HE'S A BUSINESSMAN FROM THE DISTRICT. HE'S BEEN ACTIVE IN THE DISTRICT POLITICS, REPUBLICAN POLITICS THERE. HE HAD KIND OF POSITIONED HIMSELF AS SORT OF THE ALTERNATIVE CANDIDATE. THE SUPER SUPERVISOR SAID, LOOK, THE ON TWO ARE REPRESENTATIVES THAT WILL BE VYING FOR THE SEAT IN THE FALL IN THE PRIMARY ELECTION. LET ME HAVE IT. GIVE IT TO ME I WON'T BE RUNNING AGAIN. THAT WAY WE CAN HAVE THE SEAT BE OPEN THE WAY IT WAS INTENDED. JIM WARING WAS AN OPEN TERM. IT WAS GOING TO BE AN OPEN SEAT. LET'S NOT DISRUPT THINGS AND PICK A WINNER.

Ted Simons: THERE ANYTHING WITH BRASWELL WHO HAD INITIALLY, I SHOULD SAY, EARLIER APPOINTED AND BUNCH? ANYTHING THAT THESE GUYS HAVE IN COMMON? WHAT ARE WE SEEING HERE?

Jim Small: YOU KNOW, I HAVEN'T HAD THE CHANCE TO TALK WITH EITHER OF THEM SINCE THEY WERE APPOINTED AND SWORN IN. BUT CERTAINLY I THINK THAT AMONG REPUBLICANS, THEY SEEM TO HAVE GOOD REPUTATIONS AS BEING SOLID REPUBLICANS, YOU KNOW, SUPPORTING THE CONSERVATIVE IDEALS THAT MOST PEOPLE WERE LOOKING FOR. SO I THINK WE'LL REALLY GET THE CHANCE TO SEE -- I MEAN, CERTAINLY BOTH OF THESE GENTLEMEN WILL GO THROUGH A BAPTISM BY FIRE HAVING TO DEAL WITH 3+ BILLION DOLLAR DEFICIT IN THE NEXT COUPLE OF MONTHS.

Ted Simons: LAST QUESTION REAL QUICKLY, DEADLINE FOR BILLS HAS PASSED. MORE THAN USUAL? FEWER THAN USUAL?

Jim Small: MORE THAN LAST YEAR BUT FEWER THAN WHAT WE'VE SEEN IN THE PAST FIVE OR SIX YEARS. A LOT OF THAT IS BECAUSE OF THE STAGGERING DEFICITS THAT LAWMAKERS ARE FACING. YOU KNOW, THE LEADERS HAD KIND OF TOLD PEOPLE, LOOK, WE'RE NOT GOING TO BE HEARING A LOT OF THESE BILLS. FEEL FREE TO DROP THEM. DON'T EXPECT ANYONE TO GET HURT. WE'RE SEEING TO A CERTAIN DEGREE A LIGHTER WORKLOAD FOR COMMITTEES AS THEY'RE NOT PUSHING THROUGH AS MANY BILLS AS THEY NORMALLY WOULD.

Ted Simons: GOOD TO HAVE YOU HERE TO UPDATE US.

Jim Small: THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

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