Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

May 4, 2011


Host: Ted Simons

New Speaker of the House


  • When Kirk Adams recently stepped down as Speaker of the House to make a run for Congress, lawmakers wasted little time in selecting a replacement. Meet the new Speaker, Andy Tobin a Republican from Paulden, Arizona.
Guests:
  • Andy Tobin - Speaker of the House
Category: Government

View Transcript

Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. When Kirk Adams recently stepped down as speaker of the house to make a run for congress, lawmakers wasted little time in electing Andy Tobin for the position. Joining me now to talk about his plans and priorities as the new speaker of the house is Andy Tobin, a Republican from Paulden, AZ. Good to have you Mr. Tobin.

Andy Tobin: Thanks for having me.

Ted Simons: You bet. Before we get started on the serious stuff, talk to us about Paulden, Arizona. Where is it?

Andy Tobin: Oh my God, its God’s county. We're about 25 miles north of Prescott, before Drake and it's the headwaters of the Verde River and we have the dam, Sullivan lake dam and my house and my property backs up to the Verde River canyon. It's really beautiful up there.

Ted Simons: Talk about the impact of having the speaker of the house from Northern Arizona, from a small rural town.

Andy Tobin: We were sharing I'm originally from New York City, even though I've been in Arizona for over 30 years and kept trying to find a smaller place to go to and I found a place in Paulden. And my wife said isn't it strange you get elected and go back to the big city of Phoenix. But up there it's especially beautiful and I'm very lucky to represent district 1. So thanks for giving my a chance to plug that.

Ted Simons: You bet. Let's talk about why you campaigned? Why you wanted to be speaker of the house. Why did the position interest you?

Andy Tobin: First off, I think as I look at Arizona's issues and where we've been going, it's been -- it's been a real honor to be able to serve the Republican caucus and serve in the house and we have so many people and down there that are really there for the right reasons and I'm not so arrogant to believe there couldn't be 10 us who could be speaker and I was fortunate I was in the right place, the right time. And I worked hard and we have a lot of very, very good people and I wanted to stay with those folks because they care a lot and we have a long way to go in Arizona and we've made tough choices recently and I've been very fortunate to work with former speaker Adams and Weirs, and when I came to the legislature in 2006, I haven't been here that long, you think, what can I do? How can I make the things better and the crisis just started then and it's always been a fight, how do we get things balanced and do less harm. But we're still not there yet and I don't feel I want to go until I get it fixed.

Ted Simons: Let's talk about your style and how it may differ from your predecessors, you know Adams and Weirs. And priorities, is there a signature issue with you?

Andy Tobin: I feel like if it's not broke, don't fix it. And having been majority whim for two years and then having been elected as majority leader, I've been part of the leadership process since I've gotten down there and I think we've done a pretty good job. We've got a budget that's structurally balanced for the first time in a decade and we've made tough, difficult decisions whether its pension reform or the jobs bill that we passed. Some of the most significant legislation in a long, long time here in Arizona. And what I want is I want the state to be the southwest leader in the country, a place where people want to come and work and raise their families and I have five children, you know, so three of them in community college, I still have one in high school and my son is now down here working in Mesa. But I have wanted to make it better and I think this is my opportunity to take that next step to lead just a great caucus.

Ted Simons: You mentioned some legislation that did get through.

Andy Tobin: Yeah.

Ted Simons: I want to bring up some that didn’t; because we're likely to see a return come next session. Let's start with the immigration bills that are floating around the senate and got through to a certain extent but seem to be problems, maybe little too much too soon and not enough emphasis on budget. These immigration bills are more than likely to come back. How do you feel about that?

Andy Tobin: First off, our immigration problem is not solved. I know we get to hear from secretary Napolitano that the border's never been so secure and the next thing we get is – we get out of our office and ‘by the way, please be careful if you're going to rocky point’. I'm trying to figure out, we're either secured or not. My guess is not if we are issuing warnings. So the border is not something that has passed us by. The emphasis is we need to be sure we're protecting the residents of Arizona and make sure that law enforcement knows we have their -- they have our support and we need to stop the drug cartels and that's where the emphasis is shifting to but -- and that's where it's shifting to. But we are far away from declaring this border problem and immigration issue over.

Ted Simons: Making hospitals report patients that may not be documented. Making schools report parents, making parents report kids -- this sort of business, what do you feel about that?

Andy Tobin: Clearly it didn't have the support in the senate to move. I have concerns about some of the ways it was drafted, and I think at the end of the day we need to make sure our system isn't being taken advantage of and that's where the public outcry is coming from. We have people who are physically taking advantage of our services and right now with the revenue problems we really can't afford to have folks take advantage of us. Do I have concerns? Yes. I do have concerns with physicians having to take information when they're trying to treat patients in emergency rooms. There are issues there. In the House of Representatives and the senate, this is where the debates are supposed to happen. Some are all right to have this discussion and but by and large, the biggest priority needs to be we make Arizona safe again and Sheriff Paul Babeu and the others on the border, they say it's not safe. So I think that's where our new priorities should be for immigration reform.

Ted Simons: A couple of other issues. Gun bills that made it to the legislature, the governor vetoed one that regarded rights-of-way on campus, the other – public buildings. And I guess we'll see those and then maybe win some. What are your thoughts on it?

Andy Tobin: I'm not so sure we'll see those bills back. I think what I would like to do is better open the door for the executive and have more communication with Governor Brewer. You know, an awful lot of bills came at her very, very quickly and I don't think that was fair of us to do. But she signed over 93% of the Republican legislation going up there. So I think we've got a friend on the ninth floor. And she has a place in and a role to play and if the bills aren't working and she's got issues, we have to have better conversation and discussion. I think that not any one of those bills she vetoed didn't have some concerns from our other caucus members, and will they come back? I don't think they'll come back unless we make sure that the executive is comfortable with the way they're written and she's not going it sign them, I'm not going to get into a fight with an executive over bills she's not ready to look at. We have lots of other important things to do.

Ted Simons: The Birther bill, on this program, people said this doesn't make Arizona look good. Did you find that a necessary piece of legislation?

Andy Tobin: Well, you know, personally, I supported the legislation, it's -- we have 40 members in the house Republican caucus and they all come from different places around the state and to different places around the state they're more important than others and I would argue this issue could have been put to bed sooner if the president would have produced his long-form birth certificate last year or two years ago, whenever, before we got this far down the road. This is our effort to say, Mr. President, just pull the long form out and put an end to this debate. And that's what the design was for. Let's end the controversy. So you're not going to see that bill come back. Certainly not in its present form, the governor made clear how she feels about it and it's time to move on.

Ted Simons: Real quickly before I let you go. The governor made it clear that she wants to do something with the system of workers, the hiring and firing and looks like a special session?

Andy Tobin: The governor and I only had a chance to talk twice since last Thursday and while it's true she's been working diligently on some reform, it is a very large bill and I had one briefing on it only -- it was about a month and a half ago before we got heavy into the budget and wrapping up the session. So I hadn't had a chance to double back and follow up. It was so large, I argued against putting it open the floor and debating it at the end of the session and we should wait and I'm not sure how long that is. My guess it's as large as I'm hearing it's going to take more time to really get that information flesh to our members and I won't call our members back in as speaker unless they have an opportunity to spend time going through the legislation.

Ted Simons: I -- you mentioned the length and scope of the bill. Some say the jobs bill and other bills, the budget -- so many bills in such a little amount of time. People said there was no transparency and everything was rushed. What's your style, your thoughts?

Andy Tobin: I have to completely argue over of the non-transparent process we go through. I know the media gets anxious, but I can't make them happy unless they're at the table and 30 minutes within putting the budget together and the cameras zooming in on it. We've created a TV program to watch live streaming on the computer and all the committee meetings are done live. There are no secrets in the jobs bill and the budget came out in January and the senate moved one and I really have a problem with the transparency argument with all the work we've done to shine the light on government. We've done it for county, make sure they're putting budgets online and the emails and protestors coming down there, they know what's in the budget and the jobs bill or they wouldn't be there arguing. So I would agree to disagree with the media if they're not getting all they want it see, I'll try to help do better, but by and large, we're transparent.

Ted Simons: Nice to have you, speaker.

Andy Tobin: Nice of you to have me. Appreciate it.


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