Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

January 27, 2009


Host: Ted Simons

Legislature A to Z: Education

  |   Video
  • With a $1.6 billion budget shortfall this year and a deficit as high as $3 billion in 2010, state lawmakers are considering cutting K-12 and higher education by as much as $1.5 billion over the next 18 months. Education Committee Chairman, Rep. Rich Crandall and Rep. David Schapira, a former teacher, talk about how the budget may affect education.
Category: Education   |   Keywords: Legislature,

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Ted Simons
>>hello, and welcome to "horizon," I’m Ted Simons. the state budget is bleeding red and talk of cutting education has a lot of people seeing red. tonight, we continue our series "legislature a to z" by taking a look at education in Arizona, we look at where it ranks among legislative priorities, and how education advocates may have to make significant sacrifices to help balance the state's budget. we'll hear from members of the house education committee in a moment. but first, David Majure shows us why hundreds of people took time over the weekend to let lawmakers know how they feel.


>> We value education in chandler, Arizona! [Applause]

Announcer
>> about 1500 came to the state capitol on Sunday afternoon, after learning that state lawmakers might make significant cuts to education.

Local woman
>> cutting everywhere you can, cutting teachers and their benefits. we don't pay these teachers enough as it is. we need to be increasing it, not decreasing it.

Announcer
>> that's unlikely, given the state's budget crisis a $1.6 billion deficit in the remaining five months of the current fiscal year plus an estimated $3 billion shortfall in 2010.

Russell Pearce
>> education is 50% of our budget. you're going to have to touch education, but you can do it in a responsible way.

Announcer
>> Republican senator Russell Pearce chairs the senate appropriations committee. He and his counterpart in the hosue came up with a long list of budget cutting options. They include nearly a billion dollars in cuts to k-12 education and about $400 million to universities over the next 18 months. virtually every aspect of public education will feel some pain.

Local man
>> we should not have to pray for school funding!

Announcer
>> one of the options eliminates for next year all-day kindergarten, a savings of about $218 million.

>> many schools offered it on their own. they need to go back to that. if they can afford it, then do it. If they want to go to the voters then go to the voters, the state can't afford to pay for it anymore.

Gary Nine
>> I’m a conservative republican. quite honestly, these guys are giving republicans a bad name. I’m going have to change my party or they will have to change their politics, one of the two.

Announcer
>> Gary Nine is superintendent of the Florence unified school district.

Gary Nine
>> Thursday night a week ago, Bev Myers e-mailed me about the cuts and I e-mailed her back and said what are you guys smoking down there?

Announcer
>> nine organized this protest at the last minute but he isn't surprised at the huge turnouts.

Gary Nine
>> common guys understand what is going on, regular folks, regular guys understand what's going on.

Announcer
>> what's going on, he says, would cripple public education and further damage Arizona’s economy.

Gary Nine
>> we can't turn loose tens of thousands of jobs. we're going to move Arizona from a recession to a depression if we do that.

Local Man
>> my main concern is that we're going to fall further and further behind in funding for education in Arizona, and we need to compete with the other states and the global economy. we need to compete with other countries and nations. in order to do that, you need technology, resources, good teachers. you can't do that if there's not the funding in place.

Announcer
>> nine says go ahead and raise his taxes.

Gary Nnie
>> a one-cent sales tax for education.

Announcer
>> but not a permanent one?

Gary Nine
>> no, no, no, just till the economy gets back on its feet.

Local man
>> if we have to raise the sales tax by a peeny to make sure our kids are first in the twenty first century, then I’m all for it.

Russell Pearce
>> I’m not willing to raise taxes.

Announcer
>> most lawmakers would probably agree.


Law Maker
>> we make our commitment and pledge to you that education will be a priority here in Arizona.

Announcer
>> some lawmakers are saying education cuts might not be as bad as expected, much less than all of the available options. Pearce, on the other hand, believes lawmakers will have to cut almost anywhere they can.

Russell Pearce
>> it's going to take most of those options. is it tough? absolutely. Are we doing things we otherwise would not do, absolutely. is there room to wiggle? absolutely, a little bit.

Announcer
>> but for the people at this protest, a little bit of wiggle room might not be enough.

Local Woman
>> He needs all day kindergarden next year and I need to keep being a teacher. she needs to keep going to school, too.

Ted Simons
>> joining me to talk about education is chairman of the house education committee, representative Rich Crandall, a mesa republican and a former school board member. and representative David Schapira, a Tempe democrat who's a former high school teacher and a member of the house education committee. Thank you both for joining us tonight one “horizon”

Ted Simons
>>> Rich you’ve got a house GOP budget out here just recently. what are we looking at, as far as education?

Rich Crandall
>> first we want to do is separate the years, were talking a 2009 fix because revenue has come in so much lower than we thought, this is not the 2010 budget, its not the catastrophic numbers the people talked about for next year just what are we going to do for the next five months to get through this year?

Ted Simons
>> we saw universities coming out -- I’ll start with higher education. universities said, we can look at maybe a hundred million divided by the three schools. What does your budget say?

Rich Crandall
>> the budget that the house put out today has about $121 million for the three universities, in cuts. we asked the university presidents to come back to us with other things. are there some nonmonetary issues, policies in place that would help you if we were to change things?

Ted Simons
>> these numbers making sense to you?

David Schapira
>> no. the $100 million would still hurt the universities significantly. we're not taking into account in any of these discussions, or really anything being talked about in the media, the universities already took a hit in this fiscal year. we cut $50 million last year, which is to A.S.U. alone about a $25 million impact. On top of that we also took another $9 million at the end of the year and the universities themselves imposed $25 million this year by laying off faculty like myself and others. That being said if it's this $121 plus eight to the border regions cut that would mean another $60 million to A.S.U. at least, alone, and you take out the 25 that they saved, there is still another $35 million ASU would have to cut.

Ted Simons
>> and yet, that is significantly lower, is it not, than the original option put forth by the appropriations chair?

David Schapira
>> I think it's a great smoke and mirrors game. they put forth a completely unrealistic number, and then a bad number. the completely unrealistic number would have been equivalent to closing NAU, obviously that was not a realistic number, now this number may be in the roam of reality but it is still very bad and very draconian to the universities.

Ted Simons
>> are we talking about smoke and mirrors here? Whatever type of analogy you want to make?

Rich Crandall
>> No, because what makes this so interesting, we have five months left. there are only so many options on the table to close this deficit. this is not a made-up number. you talk the department of revenue, that's a very literal number. people say, raise sales taxes. that's not an option for the next five months to close this gap. that may be an option for a future budget, but you couldn't do it in this year. you could pay some bills later but we already rolled over $600 million from the year before because we weren’t in balance. So our short-term debt gets bigger and bigger, leading to a bigger catastrophe someday.

Ted Simons
>> As far as 2010 is concerned, higher education for now, 2010, what are you thinking?

Rich Crandall
>> 2010 has an interesting conundrum. there is a huge federal stimulus bill coming. It has major strings attached, but nobody has seen the strings attached to it yet, but we know it's a very large number. you're relieved as an Arizona legislator, nervous as an American because so much money is going out to the states. we have to wait for about three weeks to see what the feds are going to deliver. And that will have a huge impact for good on 2010.

Ted Simons
>> is this all academic, if you will, provided the fact we don't really know how much federal stimulus is coming our way?

David Schapira
>> that's the interesting thing. And rich makes a great point that we only have five months left in this fiscal year and we still don't know what the stimulus package is going to look like. we have an idea of maybe what the quantity of money is going to be, but we don't know if it's earmarked for certain programs. it's difficult for us because we're operating in a vacuum, trying to do this budget. And one of factors we need to consider, having only five months left, is the fact that when we propose cutting $130 million from universities, we're asking them for their whole fiscal year to save $130 million. But were not going to tell them to start saving until seven months into the fiscal year. one of the proposals of the democratic caucus is to roll over some of our payments from June of this year to July of the next fiscal year. What that does is it allows us to address the problem in an entire fiscal year, a 12-month preferred, so to a five-month period, trying to squeeze water out of a rock.

Ted Simons
>> what do you think of that idea?

Rich Crandall
>> let me tell you what I first appreciate, David has a passion for education, just like I do. K-12 and higher education. The challenges, we have about a $3 billion hole. so the idea of pushing our 2010 debt on top of that debt already, how many more credit cards do we want to open next year?

Ted Simons
>> Lets talk about K-12 education right now. Give me some numbers that you got looking at the GOP house?

>>looking at 2009 for the remaining five months, most likely somewhere around for the districts, the charters, about $95 million. it's a 1.6% reduction. on the whole, education is being asked to contribute about $95 million toward that, not counting the Arizona department of education piece. Very small piece when you consider like Senator Pearce said education is about 43% of the state's budget.

Ted Simons
>> is that too small a piece? what happens in 2010?

Rich Crandall
>> there are so many questions about 2010. I would never say that's too small a piece. I think the districts and charters will be able to work with that figure. we've taken off some strings and said, get this money from wherever you need to, were not taking it just off capital of something like that, you have flexibility where you need to make those cuts.

David Schapira
>> higher education is more flexible. k-12 is not nearly as flexible. we are consistently ranked at the bottom of the pack, and we're about to be ranked at the bottom when it comes to overall funding. The only reason we weren’t on the bottom before was because we spent a lot of money on new school construction, which we've pretty much stopped now. So when you talk about this fiscal year we have to include -- rich is bringing up the numbers of what directly affects the schools. well, like the universities, we're also doing a cut to the agencies. there's another $8 million going to the department of education. we're talking a $103 million cut. Now can the schools deal with that? I talked to the superintendents today in my district that say they can get through this fiscal year without making anything drastic happen. talking about 2010, what has been proposed by the republican chairman, there's an $892 million cut a huge percentage of school funding. I don't know if the schools can take that, given our funding levels already. you added and $892 million cuts to that, and our schools are in big trouble. we're not talking about taking the waste out of public education, we're taking the public education out of public education.

Ted Simons
>> even before the last numbers you said, we saw the rally over the weekend and we've had people on the program very concerned about this. we've had lawmakers on this program saying the education community is simply overreacting to options as opposed to hard, fast numbers.

David Schapira
>> it's all we have on the table. I think you have to realize about the 2010 budget, the openings they put out for 2010 are pretty close what to what our deficit is for 2010. so if that are going to say,these are options select among them, we pretty much have to select everything to get through the next fiscal year. that being said, approximately a billion-dollar cut to K-12 education is what will be coming down the pike if the chairman's options were exercised.

Ted Simons
>> overreaction by the education community?

Rich Crandall
>> you have to step back two weeks and say, what was the chairman trying to accomplish with this. I have seven kids in public school. there is no way we're making a billion-dollar cut to education. it is our most important piece here in Arizona. whatever the chairman was trying to do with his options, that would never have the votes to pass. people seem to separate 2009 from 2010 and fact from fiction and what one or two legislatures put forward is not the whole body.

Ted Simons
>>> quickly a couple of controversial issues: all-day kindergarten and school tax credits. how do those stands as far as your budget proposal looks like?

Rich Crandall
>> for 2009, neither of those gets touched at all. The challenge with tax credits, its really the only funding in Arizona that a parent directs exactly where they want it spend. I tried to put a little bit of reform on certain pieces of tax credits, and parents and teachers came unglued. It would be political suicide for someone to try and reform ECA, in a major way.

Ted Simons
>> political suicide?

David Schapira
>> and I know this from talking to school district officials, superintendents and school board members and principals, they would rather have the state aid funding than get those tax credits. I’m hearing that from most of the folks I’m talking to. I don't see this as political suicide. we can do this across the board. we can say the public schools are hit just as hard as the charter schools and private schools when it comes to eliminating that tax credit. it doesn't make sense to say in this kind of economy to say we're going reduce the amount of revenue the state takes in and then go cut education.

Ted Simons
>> last question -- go ahead.

Rich Crandall
>> look for a bill from David Schapira.

Ted Simons
>> very quickly: everything about the debate, do lawmakers understand or do lawmakers want to understand how important education is to so many Arizonans? this is not a facetious or snarky question. it seems like there are some lawmakers who see numbers as opposed to education, some look at education first, and then the numbers. does this change the dynamic of the debate?

Rich Crandall
>> I will tell you what is changing; the new legislators coming in have college degrees and they have kids in school. we almost have a little bit of a younger crowd. Representative Schapira and I have worked on some joint international baccalaureate programs, on educational backgrounds, college attendance. we have 15,000 kids taking the A.C.T. because we rank so low in those groups. you cannot elevate your status without education.

Ted Simons
>> is that dynamic changing the debate?

David Schapira
>> although representative Crandall and I have some disagreements on education funding, he truly had the best interest of students in mind and that was shown in this service in Mesa public schools and I’m sure he will show that in the next couple years. that being said, that dynamic is not necessarily true down at the capitol. out of 90 folks, I don't know if there are more than a couple or a couple dozen that actually have seen the day-to-day impact of what these cuts would do to public schools. I think we need to consider, my last point, we're going to turn a fiscal crisis into a generational crisis with these cuts to our public schools.

Ted Simons
>> gentlemen, thank you very much, great discussion.

Phoenix Police Reserve Program

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Category: Law

View Transcript
Ted Simons
For more than half a century, men and women have been working alongside the sworn officers of the phoenix police department. they are members of the police reserve, volunteering to serve and protect our community. Merry Lucero has their story.

Merry Lucero
>>> police officers have demanding and rewarding careers. they train hard and risk their lives every day they work. these officers are no different, except they don't get paid. they are reserve officers, volunteers with the phoenix police department.

Scott Finical
>> reserve officer have established careers that they like and they enjoy, and they don't want to give up those careers because of lifelong education or training. this is just a little something extra that they want to do, in addition to their career job. people are very committed to do that. you really come away with an incredible sense of accomplishment, and it's a great experience.

Robert Vied
>> it's been great, very enjoyable. you learn a lot of things that you never even would think of.

Merry Lucero
>> these reserve officers are in the last week was training before they graduate. they are on a six-mile run near the phoenix police academy in south phoenix. physical training is a huge part of becoming an officer.



Scott Finical
>> the training for a reserve officer is identical to that for career officers because they do the same job. but a significant component of the training on police curriculum is physical fitness, physical training, endurance training such as the long-distance run that you talked about, as well as defensive tactics. the work of a police officer is a physically demanding job.

Reserve Officer
>> you've got to plan before you get there what you're going to do and how you're going react.

Merry Lucero
>> the run pauses at a memorial for a DPS. officer shot and killed on a call.

Scott Finical
>> that kind of a story helps to impress upon our recruits the seriousness of the work they do, and why our training is so important. we train officers to protect them, as well as to protect the public. unfortunately, officers are killed in the line of duty. and that's a very serious and sobering experience. it's important for our recruits to understand that part of the job, as well.

Merry Lucero
>> like career officers, reserve recruits complete more than 180 hours of hands-on firearms training and must pass the firearms qualification course. in total, reserves must fulfill 620 hours of training at the academy.

Scott Finical
>>it covers all areas from history of law enforcement to criminal law, all aspects of the job, including constitutional law, search and seizure, victims' rights, all of those important areas that we deal with every day as police officers.

Merry Lucero
>>> after they graduate the academy, the reserve officer goes into a field training program.

Scott Finical
>> which is, they will be in uniform with a firearm as fully certified officer and they will be paired with one of or seasoned career training officers. that program takes another 480 hours on the street, dealing with the public, responding to traffic accidents, handling the duties that a police officer does. but the recruit does it with a training officer along with them.

Merry Lucero
>> once reserve officers are on duty, they must commit to 60 hours of service every three months.

Scott Finical
>> but in reality this is such an interesting job that most of our reserve officers work at least one night, sometimes even two nights a week on a volunteer basis.

>>> the men and women who serve as reserve officer versus diverse day jobs. businesspeople, lawyers, engineers, even an emergency room doctor, all working to keep the public safe. Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon recounts a reserve officer's heroism on the job.

Phil Gordon
>> somebody went into a food court with an automatic weapon and one of the reserve officer, I believe it was a sergeant, put himself in front of the automatic weapon as it was being fired and was able to raise it upward as it was let go when another officer then shot the bad guy and saved a lot of the patrons' lives.

Merry Lucero
>> since Gordon took officer the reserves program has gone from 25 officers to about 125. the goal, to have 200 fully trained and certified officers in the program.

Ted Simons
>> joining me is assistant chief Scott Finical who oversees the phoenix police reserve division. thanks for joining us here on "horizon."

Scot Finical
>> thank you, it's a pleasure to be here.

Ted Simons
>> let's talk about this program, how the program started and where you see it going.

Scot Finical
>> the program initially started in 1951, as a civil defense auxiliary from world war II. And so it started in 1951 and has continued to grow and strengthen as time went on.

Ted Simons
>> it sounds as those these folks work a lot and save a lot of money for the city, give us some numbers here, how that works.

Scot Finical
>> last year our reserve officers donated approximately 33,000 hours, which have a value of probably $2 million to the city. it's a very substantial contribution to the city and savings for the city, as well.

Ted Simons
>> one of the reason Mayor Phil Gordon is happy with the program?

Scot Finical
>> Mayor Gordon is very pleased with the program and he's been a very strong advocate of growing the program as has chief Harris. that's why we've seen this success over the that's few years.

Ted Simons
>> are you ever surprised when you get a stockbroker or a preacher coming in saying, I want to be a reserve officer?

Scot Finical
>> I’m not surprised anymore. because they are committed individuals with demanding career jobs. they want to do something more for the community, to make our community a better place to live, work and, and actually visit, they are very interesting and motivated but very diverse in terms of professionals we do have.

Tim Simons
>> let's say I’m interested but I am worried about the physical nature of the job and the physical requirement to be on the job, what are the requirements?

Scot Finical
>> the requirements are the same as to be a career officer. there is no difference, reserve officers do the same job with the same authority and responsibility. there's a comprehensive background investigation that has to be performed, physical examination, physical agility testing. you do have to be in good physical shape because the job of a police officer is physically demanding.

Ted Simons
>> crazy good physical shape or just good physical shape?

Scot Finical
>> good physical shape, and we'll make you in better shape as a result of the academy. a significant component of the academy is physical training, defensive tactics. you will come out of the academy in much better shape but do you have to meet the minimum requirements.

Ted Simons
>> what do you say to those who say, these are not real officers?

Scot Finical
>> the people whose lives were saved in the food court that the mayor referred to would disagree with that description. Our reserve officers are in the same uniform driving the same police cars, responding to the same calls. So they have saved people in numerous situations, not only the situation that the mayor recently described.

Ted Simons
>> are there assignments best sooted for reserve officers?

Scot Finical
>> all of our reserve officers start in patrol, which is really the backbone to the Phoenix police department. because of the thousands and thousands of calls for service we get every year. If fact last year there were close to 800,000 calls for service. but they also work in specialty details, detective, motorcycle officers, helicopter pilots, they are throughout the department in specialty details, as well as patrol division.

Ted Simons
>> if someone's watching right now and thinking, this may be something I’m at least interested in, we have a website and more information for them?

Scot Finical
>> we do, our phone is 602-534-9000. our website is phoenixpolicereserve.org, and they will see the information they need to learn more about the reserve division.

Ted Simons
>> last question: personally for you, is it rewarding?

Scot Finical
>> it's incredibly rewarding. it gives us an opportunity to really help people that sometimes don't have the resources to help themselves. at the end of the shift you feel incredibly fulfilled.

Ted Simons
>> thank you so much for joining us on "horizon" and telling us about this valuable program. thank you so much.

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