Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

February 8, 2012


Host: Ted Simons

Legislative Update


  • An Arizona Capitol Times reporter, Luige del Puerto, provides a mid-week update on news from the Arizona State Legislature.
Guests:
  • Luige del Puerto - Arizona Capitol Times
Category: Legislature   |   Keywords: legislature, update,

View Transcript

TED SIMONS: GOOD EVENING. WELCOME TO "ARIZONA HORIZON." I'M TED SIMONS. REPUBLICAN LAWMAKERS MET BEHIND CLOSED DOORS TODAY TO DISCUSS THE GOVERNOR'S PROPOSAL TO REFORM THE STATE GOVERNMENT PERSONNEL SYSTEM. HERE WITH OUR MIDWEEK LEGISLATIVE UPDATE IS LUIGE DEL PUERTO OF THE ARIZONA CAPITOL TIMES. THE MEETING NOT THAT BIG A DEAL. THE CLOSED DOOR ASPECT A BIG DEAL. WHAT'S GOING ON HERE?

LUIGIE DEL PUERTO: THE GOVERNOR HAS BEEN PUSHING FOR HER PERSONAL REFORM LEGISLATION BASICALLY SHE WANTS THE STATE TO BE ABLE TO HIRE AND FIRE STATE EMPLOYEES MORE EASILY. SO REPUBLICAN SENATORS YESTERDAY MET AND DECIDED THAT THEY WERE GOING TO GET BRIEFED ABOUT WHAT THE GOVERNOR IS WANTING TO DO, WHICH IS SIMILAR TO WHAT SHE PROPOSED LAST YEAR, BUT THE INTERESTING THING ABOUT IT IS THEY MET BEHIND CLOSED DOORS. THEY WENT INTO EXECUTIVE SESSION. THE MAJORITY OF THE MEMBERS OF THE CAUCUS WERE THERE, WHICH RAISES QUESTIONS ABOUT THEM VIOLATING THEIR OWN SENATE RULES BASICALLY SAYING THEY ARE GOING TO FOLLOW THE STATE'S OPEN MEETING LAWS, WHICH LISTS DOWN THE THINGS THAT THEY CAN GO INTO EXECUTIVE SESSION FOR SUCH AS WHEN THEY ARE ELECTING LEADERSHIP OR DISCUSSING SALARY OF THEIR EMPLOYEES. DISCUSSING LEGISLATION OR A POSSE AGENDA PUSHED BY THE GOVERNOR IS NOT AMONG THOSE THAT THEIR RULES SAY THEY SHOULD BE ABLE TO GO INTO CLOSED DOOR SESSION FOR.

TED SIMONS: SO BASICALLY, THE PARTY CAUCUSES MUST BE PUBLIC WHEN YOU'RE DISCUSSING LEGISLATION.

LUIGIE DEL PUERTO: IF THE MAJORITY OF MEMBERS ARE PRESENT.

TED SIMONS: OKAY, SO WHAT'S THE RESPONSE? WHAT DO THEY SAY WHEN PEOPLE BRING THIS UP?

LUIGIE DEL PUERTO: WE ASKED SENATE PRESIDENT STEVE PIERCE ABOUT IT. IN THE PAST THEY HAVE ALWAYS SAID WE ARE GOING INTO CLOSED DOOR SESSION BECAUSE WE'RE DISCUSSING A LEGAL ISSUE. THIS TIME THEY MADE NO PRETENSE ABOUT IT. STEVE PIERCE, THE SENATE PRESIDENT, WAS VERY CANDID ABOUT WHAT THEY WERE DOING. HE SAID THEY WERE DISCUSSING THE GOVERNOR'S PERSONAL LEGISLATION AND WE ASKED HIM WHY HE THOUGHT HE COULD GO INTO CLOSED SESSION FOR THAT AND HE SAID, I DECIDED TO DO IT. I'M THE SENATE PRESIDENT. THIS IS THE WAY I WANTED TO DO IT. THEY COULD HAVE GONE INTO SMALL GROUP MEETINGS. HE DIDN'T THINK THAT WAS EFFICIENT. THEY DECIDED IT WAS THE BEST WAY TO DO IT AND HE DECIDED TO DO IT.

TED SIMONS: THIS DEALS WITH THE PERSONNEL SYSTEM, REVAMPING OF THE PERSONNEL SYSTEM WHERE IT'S NO MORE MERIT SYSTEM, IT’S EASIER TO HIRE AND FIRE AND A VARIETY OF THINGS THE GOVERNOR WANTS TO SEE, WHICH HAS NOT REALLY BEEN INTRODUCED YET. IS THAT PROBABLY ONE OF THE THINGS THEY TALKED ABOUT BEHIND THOSE CLOSED DOORS?

LUIGIE DEL PUERTO: IT WAS THE MAIN THING THEY TALKED ABOUT IN EXECUTIVE SESSION, PERSONAL REVAMPING OF THE PERSONNEL SYSTEM. IT'S NOT BEEN INTRODUCED YET. I UNDERSTAND IT WILL BE INTRODUCED NEXT WEEK IN THE HOUSE. WE'RE NOT EXACTLY SURE WHO IN THE HOUSE WILL BE INTRODUCING IT BUT IT'S A BIG PROPOSAL. SENATORS WHO ARE BRIEFED ABOUT IT HAD MANY QUESTIONS. THE SENSE THAT THEY ARE AGREEABLE TO CHANGES BASICALLY ALLOWING THE STATE TO HIRE AND FIRE MORE, DO IT EASILY OR EASIER TO DO IT. BUT IT'S SO BIG THAT THEY WILL NEED TIME TO DO IT. DETAIL -- IT REALLY DEPENDS ON THE SPECIFICS OF THIS PROPOSAL.

TED SIMONS: WE SHOULD MENTION THIS IS ALL HAPPENING AFTER THE GOVERNOR WITH A VERY OPEN DOOR SUGGESTED IF YOU BRING ANY ANTI-UNION BILLS MY WAY THEY COULD BE IN FOR TOUGH SLEDDING BECAUSE I HAVEN'T HAD MY PERSONNEL REFORM EVEN TALKED ABOUT.

LUIGIE DEL PUERTO: WE'RE SEEING A LITTLE BIT OF THE POLITICAL TANGO, IF YOU WILL. THE GOVERNOR SAID I WANT TO SEE MY PERSONNEL LEGISLATION BEFORE I EVEN CONSIDER YOUR ANTI-UNION BILLS. IN FACT LAWMAKERS TOLD THE GOVERNOR YESTERDAY WE WANTED TO DO THE BUDGET FIRST BEFORE WE DO ANYTHING ELSE. THAT'S OUR CONSTITUTIONAL OBLIGATION. LET'S DO THAT FIRST. IF YOU WANT TO TIE IT WITH YOUR PERSONNEL LEGISLATION WE CAN DO THAT TOO.

TED SIMONS: OKAY, I WANT TO GET TO THE BUDGET IN A SECOND, BUT THOSE ANTI-UNION BILLS ARE ADVANCING PRETTY RAPIDLY, AREN’T THEY.

LUIGIE DEL PUERTO: THEY ARE ADVANCING RAPIDLY. THEY WERE INTRODUCED ABOUT A WEEK AGO. THEY WERE HEARD IN COMMITTEE. THEN THEY RECEIVED APPROVAL IN THE SENATE RULES COMMITTEE. THEY GOT APPROVED IN CAUCUSES. THEIR NEXT STEP IS TO GO TO THE FLOOR WHERE THEY WILL BE DEBATED ON AND VOTED ON. SOMETHING THAT COULD PROBABLY HAPPEN NEXT WEEK.

TED SIMONS: IS THERE MUCH DEBATE ON THESE THINGS? BECAUSE THEY ARE MOVING KINDA FAST.

LUIGIE DEL PUERTO: IN THE MAJORITY CAUCUS MEETING YESTERDAY JUST VERY CURSORY QUESTIONS FIELDED ABOUT IT. THERE WASN'T MUCH DISCUSSION ABOUT THIS LEGISLATION. BUT IS THERE MUCH DEBATE? YES, OUTSIDE OF THE REPUBLICAN CAUCUS YOU SAW HOW UPSET THE PUBLIC UNIONS ARE. THEY ARE OUT THERE LOBBYING AGGRESSIVELY TO TRY TO HEAD OFF THESE PROPOSALS. IT'S SHAPING UP TO BE ONE OF THE BIGGEST POLITICAL FIGHTS THIS YEAR.

TED SIMONS: WE TALKED ABOUT THIS BEFORE. I WONDER IF FOLKS REALIZE WHAT THIS COULD BRING, THE KIND OF DISCORD AND FIGHT THIS COULD BRING.

LUIGIE DEL PUERTO: YEAH. THE QUESTION REALLY -- I THINK MIKE WAS REPRESENTING THE FIREFIGHTERS UNION BASICALLY SAID HE DOESN'T UNDERSTAND WHY THEY ARE DOING IT IN AN ELECTION YEAR GOING AFTER PUBLIC UNIONS. OF COURSE FIRE AND POLICE ARE WELL REGARDED IN THE COMMUNITY. THEY HAVE MEANS TO FIGHT BACK. IF THIS PROPOSAL MAKES IT INTO LAW, WE WILL PROBABLY SEE THEM FIGHT BACK PRETTY HARD.

TED SIOMONS: IT WILL BE INTERESTING TO SEE. LET'S GET TO THE BUDGET. ON THE PROCESS IT SOUNDS LIKE THE LEGISLATURE SEES A COUPLE OF NUMBERS. THE GOVERNOR SEES A COUPLE OF NUMBERS THERE. HOW DO THEY WORK?

LUIGIE DEL PUERTO: THE BIG QUESTION THEY HAVE TO RECONCILE IS REVENUE PROJECTIONS. IT'S IMPORTANT BECAUSE THAT'S IT DEFINES HOW MUCH MONEY YOU HAVE. THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE HAD THEIR PRESENTATIONS A FEW WEEKS BACK AND THEY BASICALLY SAID WE'RE GOING TO GET MORE REVENUES. IN FACT THE GOVERNOR IS NOT EXPECTING A DEFICIT WHEN THE 1 CENT SALES TAX EXPIRES IN TWO YEARS. THE LAWMAKERS SAY WE'RE GOING TO HAVE A DEFICIT AND ARE PROJECTING A MUCH MORE CONSERVATIVE REVENUE WHICH MEANS THEY HAVE TO RECONCILE THOSE. YESTERDAY THE GOVERNOR, SENATE PRESIDENT STEVE PIERCE AND MR. SPEAKER MET. THEY DISCUSSED THE BUDGET. LAWMAKERS, MR. PIERCE TOLD ME WHAT THEY TOLD THE GOVERNOR IS THAT WE WANT TO START NEGOTIATIONS RIGHT AWAY. WE WANT TO RECONCILE THESE DETAILS RIGHT AWAY. WE WANT STAFF TO START WORKING ON GETTING A BUDGET PLAN PUT TOGETHER. BUT APPARENTLY THE GOVERNORS WANTING THE SENATE OR THE LEGISLATURE TO MOVE UP THE REVENUE PROJECTIONS BEFORE THEY START NEGOTIATIONS. A LITTLE HARDENING OF POSITIONS. IT'S NOT ENTIRELY UNUSUAL AT THIS STAGE OF THE PROCESS FOR POSITIONS TO BE HARDENING. THEY WANT TO GAIN AS MUCH LEVERAGE AS THEY CAN AT THIS STAGE.

TED SIMONS: SOUNDS AS THOUGH THE GOVERNOR HAS SOME CUTS AND MAYBE SOME SWEEPS INVOLVED WITH HER BUDGET. WE HAD DON SHOOTER, SENATE APPROPRIATIONS CHAIR ON JUST THE OTHER NIGHT, LASI NIGHT, I BELIEVE. LAST NIGHT HE SAID HE WOULD TRY FOR NO CUTS, NO RESTORATIONS AND NO SWEEPS. THE TWAIN AREN'T MEETING QUITE YET.

LUIGIE DEL PUERTO: NO, THEY AREN’T QUITE YET. IN FACT, THE GOVERNOR IS PROPOSING ADDITIONAL SPENDING IN MANY AREAS OF EDUCATION, PUBLIC SAFETY, CORRECTIONS, FOR EXAMPLE. THE SENTIMENT PREVAILING FROM CONSERVATIVE LAWMAKERS IS WE WANT TO AT LEAST HOLD OFF ON NEW SPENDING. WE WANT TO KEEP THE SPENDING THAT WE HAVE AND ANY ADDITIONAL MONEY WE GET, ASSUMING WE GET ANY, THEY WANT TO PUT INTO A RAINY DAY FUND TO ANTICIPATE THE REVENUE LOSS WHEN THE 1 CENT SALES TAX EXPIRES. THEY WANT TO PUT THE MONEY INTO SOME SORT OF DEBT REPAYMENT SCHEME. BUT OF COURSE THAT'S ALSO A BIG ISSUE NOW. THE GOVERNOR WANTS TO BUY BACK THOSE BUILDINGS. SENATE PRESIDENT STEVE PIERCE SAID A FEW WEEKS AGO HE'S NOT REALLY SOLD ON THAT IDEA.

TED SIMONS: ALL RIGHT, WE'LL KEEP AN EYE ON IT. GOOD TO HAVE YOU HERE, THANKS FOR JOINING US.

LUIGIE DEL PUERTO: THANK YOU.


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