Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

November 3, 2010


Host: Ted Simons

Post-election Update


  • Arizona Republic Reporter Mary Jo Pitzl will bring us the latest election results.
Guests:
  • Mary Jo Pitzl - The Arizona Republic
Category: Vote 2010

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
As for yesterday's election, the votes are in but they haven't all been counted. In Maricopa County alone, nearly 219,000 early ballots have yet to be tabulated, along with about 55,000 provisional ballots. But most of the races are decided, and here to talk about what the election means to the state legislature is "Arizona Republic" reporter Mary Jo Pitzl. Good to see you. Thanks for joining us.

Mary Jo Pitzl:
my pleasure.

Ted Simons:
We've got a lot to go over here. Just in general, how will the state legislature change next session?


Mary Jo Pitzl:
I think they will change with a little more shift towards the right. When you look at some of the candidates who won their elections yesterday, in fact, house speaker Kirk Adams, who was just selected for another term as house speaker by his peers, said that, look, our mandate is to cut the budget and to do that without raising taxes. And I asked him, how -- where did he get that mandate? He said looks at the candidates who won, they took Democratic seats in rural Arizona, and those were won by Republicans who ran on platforms of reducing state spending, also immigration being a subtext.

Ted Simons:
Let's get right to one of the propositions, 301 and 302, those both failed. And how is the legislature going to respond, especially in light of the speaker saying, we've got the mandate and yet the voters made the vote on those two programs that they want to save.

Mary Jo Pitzl:
Right. Well, their response is that, well, OK, you -- voters don't want to repeal that program that helps early childhood, health, and education, sadly we're probably going to -- we're going to have to make cuts in those budget areas in other parts of the budget. First things first alone, and they'll take that out in other education and health care cuts.

Ted Simons:
So education and health care, look out.

Mary Jo Pitzl:
Oh, yeah. I mean -- and there is not a lot of wiggle room on -- there's very little wiggle room on what they can cut in the budget. And there is some room to cut in K-12, there's also talk about trying to perhaps just disregard the maintenance of effort requirement that the feds put on, which requires education funding to be held at a certain level.

Ted Simons:
It looks as though there's -- it's veto proof now in the state legislature. How -- talk about the ramifications of that, and how -- let's get right into it. The legislature's relationship with Governor Brewer. It was interesting last go-around. How does that change?

Mary Jo Pitzl:
Well, we've got veto proof majorities in both chambers, definitely in the senate and depending on late returns, very likely in the house. And what that means on paper is that they could -- legislature dock whatever they want. If the governor vetoes something, they could override it. But that's on paper. You've got to look at reality. I couldn't find anybody today who could even remember the last time that a legislature tried to override a gubernatorial veto. More likely what it will do, it will require more working together between the ninth floor and the legislature, and certainly those relations got better in 20 at the time -- 2010 than they were in 2009 when she was pushing for the sales tax. And I think you'll see more of an approach such as we saw with SB 1070. When the governor saw that, she stepped in, push for some amendment, pushed for changes, it comes out and they all benefited.

Ted Simons:
Does the governor surprise Arizona with moves, with ideas, with pushing certain things not pushing others? Do you see that perhaps happening?

Mary Jo Pitzl:
It's so hard to predict. She's been pretty quiet about what her agenda is going forward. She knows she's got a very, very tough budget on her hands, and that's going to be the first order of business. And she's already signaled that although she has tried to stake her reputation as being the governor who is -- who would protect education, she's not going to be able to be totally hold that harmless.

Ted Simons:
News today that Russell Pearce will be the next senate president. First of all, how important is that position in terms of getting what you want done, and secondly, how is that going to work in the dynamic with the ninth floor?

Mary Jo Pitzl:
Well, the Pearce presidency will be very, very interesting. Because Russell Pearce is very interesting. And some people argue it's mostly an administrative job to be senate president, but there's a couple key decisions they make. They appoint committee chair people. Who will be chairman of rules, which is a very important procedural committee, who is going to chair the commerce committee, which is sort of the gateway for all the jobs, and job creation that the Republicans say they want to do? Who's going to chair the budget committee? Which is what Pearce has done. Those will be real crucial decisions. I don't have a real good window on where he's going with some of those decisions.

Ted Simons:
Does he put people in those positions who are just lock step with him, or does he get really political and find folks who may not be as cozy with him as he'd like and say, I'm going put you in there and thus get more of their loyalty?

Mary Jo Pitzl:
I think would it depend on the post. For example, we heard that senator Ron Gould was a leading candidate to be rules chairman, and I was told this afternoon there's no way that is happening with Russell as president. And that's important, because rules can bottle up legislation and Gould is very strict on how he reads the law, and the constitution, and one could imagine he would hold up a lot of things. Perhaps there will be a little more sway on commerce and economic development. You do want the state to be out there recruiting jobs and doing what it can to attract new business.

Ted Simons:
How did Pearce win the senate president vote from the caucus? Because we kept hearing he was -- it was the two Steve’s, and make John McComish on the outside and Pearce on the outside as well. This is a bit of a surprise.

Mary Jo Pitzl:
I think it's a bit of a surprise if you haven't been following it day by day. McComish took himself out of the running two days ago and said I'm going to support Steve Yarbrough, who is a house member who just got elected to the senate. Part of the dynamic is they did not want to have someone newly arrived from the house walk into the senate and become president. Which is what would have happened if Yarbrough had won. And when Steve pierce realized he didn't have enough votes, he threw his support to Russell Pearce, that coalesces the votes and there you have it.

Ted Simons:
The idea that this person is coming over from the other house, little too coy -- that seems that odds.

Mary Jo Pitzl:
It's one of those strange internal politics things. I'm told the last thing somebody walked over from the house and took charge was 1919, and they saw no need to repeat that.

Ted Simons:
All right. So we've got everything in place. What happens? More borrowing? More rollovers? We've talked about cuts, what -- the budget is huge, it just got even bigger, the problem with the budget with the vote last night. What in the world happens?

Mary Jo Pitzl:
I see two things. Do you into a very protracted discussion about the state budget, or you do what happened in 2009, when the new legislature comes in and is seated, and they push through a plan to get this year's budget balanced. And you can do that -- I think there's 17 new Republicans in the house, and there's -- I don't know, seven or eight new democrats in the house. Not that they're going to matter that much. So you -- the push it forward quickly resolution is very likely. Otherwise, other people are going to sit up and say, wait, this isn't going to work and they're going to have a protracted one. But they're going to have to cut mostly -- that's all we're hearing. Pearce today, after he emerged from the leadership election, said no borrowing, no gimmicks, it's going to be cutting.

Ted Simons:
Education you mentioned is likely a very big target. You got John Huppenthal as a state education chief, he has not been hesitant in the past to cut education funding. That's an interesting dynamic as well.

Mary Jo Pitzl:
Yes, especially coming as he does from the legislature where he's very familiar with the appropriations process. He may be overseeing a department whose school districts are going to start to see a big increase in class sizes. And if that happens, who gets the blame? Probably the local school district, more son the legislature. Because those decisions have to be made by school districts. But I think cutting will be the order of the day, and can they find some place to borrow? Will we take about RACiNOS that might bring in some more revenue? But again, Pearce is not a fan of that, nor is speaker Adams. That idea of expanding gambling in the state doesn't fitH fit with their agenda.

Ted Simons:
Will immigration again take center stage, especially with a president Pearce?

Mary Jo Pitzl:
Did we tell you Russell Pearce is senate president? Of course immigration will continue to be an issue. And lawmakers.

Ted Simons:
But as big an issue?

Mary Jo Pitzl:
14th amendment could be a big issue. That's where it would be interesting to see the dynamic between the legislature and Governor Brewer. Does she want the state to go down that path? A little unclear. But certainly I talked to Tom Horne, he'll be the next attorney general, and he's saying, look, one of the things we're elected to do is keep pressure on the federal government about immigration. Oh, yeah, immigration will continue to be a big issue. They've got to have something to do while they're in gridlock over the budget.

Ted Simons:
And last question, of all the races, the state races for the legislature, what's of what surprised you the most?

Mary Jo Pitzl:
Probably senator Rebecca Rios’s defeat in Pinal county. We knew it was going to be a close race, indications were that it was -- that she was probably going to be pretty safe. She goes out, that's important because she lost to Republican Steve Smith, who has Tea Party leanings. And that's a generational shift from the democrats to the Republicans, and it follow was what we've been seeing in that suburbanizing part of the state.

Ted Simmons:
All right. Good stuff. Thanks for joining us.

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