Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

August 12, 2009


Host: Ted Simons

Arts Conference

  |   Video
  • The Executive Director of the Arizona Commission on the Arts, Robert Booker, discusses the Southwest Arts Conference which will address the current economic crisis and its impact on the arts.
Guests:
  • Robert Booker - Arizona Commission on the Arts
Category: The Arts   |   Keywords: arts, economy,

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
The rough economy impacts everything. Including the arts. That will be part of the focus of the upcoming Southwest Arts Conference, an annual statewide gathering. It will be held in Carefree, and in addition to focusing on the impact of a down economy, the conference will also examine the issue of sustainability and the arts. Here to talk about the Conference is Robert Booker, executive director of the Arizona commission on the arts.

Robert Booker:
Good to be back.

Ted Simons:
What are you looking to do?

Robert Booker:
To help our arts industry face the current economic times, to learn new strategies and build audiences and resources and to move forward. It's also help working teachers understand the value of the arts in the classroom and help working teaching artists participate in the classrooms at the highest level possible.

Ted Simons:
Safety, sustainability, the future is no accident. What does that mean?

Robert Booker:
That's an old line from the '50s that basically said be careful in what do you, plan for the future and be aware of what you can do to build your future. And the idea is that we want to train folks during this conference to be aware of the options they have to make smarter decisions in the future. How to partner with collegial arts organizations and develop resources for their community and develop new programs that will address younger and more diverse audiences.

Ted Simons:
How do you do that when it seems the paradigm of the economy changes on ballot measure almost a monthly basis and the arts in particular with the internet and new technology change even faster? How do you look ahead when you can't even look forward to the next couple of days, it seems?

Robert Booker:
It's an incredible challenge. Arts organizations that have five or three-year plans, they might as well throw them out the door. They don't work. We're working with younger voices and working with diverse voices and bringing them to the table and hearing what they have to say about how to service their community, their age brackets, we're really looking at this sort of dramatic change of tide of people who are in audience seats and in galleries across our country and hearing from those people that are going to be our future. It's very, very important.

Ted Simons:
Arts education in Arizona I know got hit pretty hard by the budget and cuts therein. Not as hard as it could have been, though.

Robert Booker:
You bet. We lost about 42% of our resources at this last legislative session. We're committed to moving forward. With key elements that we -- we're proud of. Working in the classrooms with professional artists and continue to bring them into K-12 classrooms, public and private and charter schools to work with the teachers and young people. In many cases, this may be the first time a young person is introduced to the arts so that early introduction, the performing arts, visual, music, dance is so important in our schools.

Ted Simons:
With the cut in funding and with the recession and a rapidly changing arts atmosphere, some could say, oh, me, oh, my, but it's also an opportunity, isn't it?

Robert Booker:
It's an opportunity for change. We know arts leaders are incredibly smart and nobody can stretch a dollar further. We're professionals and good at what we do. We should be charged with how to face the future smartly and cooperatively.

Ted Simons:
Two-part question: Where does Arizona stand compared with other states in terms of funding and what can we learn from other states?

Robert Booker:
We were in the high 30s per capita and with the recent cut, moved to the high 40s and that's not good. Hawaii is number one in per capita funding. Their legislature provides a little over $5 per person in funding for the Hawaiian arts council and you'll find other arts councils across the 50 states and six territories, few are worse than us. What we need do is as individuals we need to take awareness to this and become contributors. We need to contribute to arts organizations that we take our children to. I would make a call for our corporate friends. Our corporate leaders need to find ways to support arts organizations by loaning their executives or making contributions themselves. This is a time when everybody needed to take responsibility to ensure that the arts are in Arizona and active. I often joke and say without the arts in Arizona, we'd be a hot Idaho and we don't want that to happen. We want the arts to thrive in every one of our communities across the state.

Ted Simons:
Keynote speaker is Chris Jordan at conference. This is a big coup.

Robert Booker:
If you Google his name, you'll have seen his work before. He's an environmental photographer. He does work that relates to the environment, relates to sustainability, and he's a prime example of an artist that works not only in their own field but with the community at large and we have so many artists in Arizona that do that. Open dance has been working with young people and obesity issues. Reaches kids annually and we have artists that work with at-risk kids and the arts are vital to us in and of themselves but also do so much more in helping Arizona be a better place to live.

Ted Simons:
I know one of the sessions is titled "the arts: Who needs them?" Who needs them?

Robert Booker:
We need them in Arizona, and our country needs them. They're economic generators. Over $300 million was generated by folks who attend them. And they help our kids succeed in school and help us understand each other and our cultures and backgrounds and the arts have a way to renew communities. If you look at Roosevelt Avenue, Grand Avenue, the renewal of those main streets are all because of the arts. If you take it to a rural community, an abandoned theater, and the mayor has got folks walking up and down her main Street and it's because of the arts.

Ted Simons:
Can that message be delivered better?

Robert Booker:
I think what happens is a lot of folks don't understand the structure of non-profit arts organization is a 50-50 match. 50% of the money comes from contributions, grants, resources like that from foundations and businesses and individuals. 50% is earned at the box office. So as we understand better how nonprofits serve and function, we then understand our role as individual citizens in contributing to those and taking our kids to those events.

Ted Simons:
Bob, good to have you.

Robert Booker:
Always good to be here. Thank you.

Legislative Update

  |   Video
  • The legislature is set to vote this week on the budget. Dennis Welch of the Arizona Guardian will bring us up to date.
Guests:
  • Dennis Welch - Arizona Guardian
Category: Legislature

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
The state senate voted down an attempt to get a temporary sales tax hike on the ballot. The measure fell short by a couple of votes. What's next in the budget battle? Here to help us find an answer is "Arizona Guardian" reporter Dennis Welch. Good to have you.

Dennis Welch:
Thanks.

Ted Simons:
This vote, was it a surprise?

Dennis Welch:
There were two votes technically, today. First there was the latest incarnation of this, in which they were voting on a bill that would just include -- referring the tax increase to the ballot along with a spending cap on state spending. That was a couple of votes short. And then they moved to reconsider the prior bill, with the referral on there that failed in the legislature before and it failed again.

Ted Simons:
So what does this mean in the grand scheme of things? November 3rd, adios. December 8th, adios?

Dennis Welch:
That was the earliest they can possibly hold an election. November 3rd, voters will be deciding both bond issues and these kinds of things and it takes about a month afterward to recount -- they have to hold the machine in case someone wants to challenge the election and then have to go through routine maintenance, such as a -- inspections to make sure they work right, so it takes about a month between elections before they can go out there again.

Ted Simons:
And the thought for a December vote, it wouldn't look good for the sales tax because that's a time when a lot of folks aren't interested in politics. You're Christmas shopping and not interested in paying more for something else. That can't help the governor there.

Dennis Welch:
It doesn't, if you're going to be voting in between Thanksgiving and Christmas, for a lot of those reasons, people aren't interested. The people interested in this are those who are passionate about this issue and people more passionate about something like this would be someone who doesn't want to pay for taxes and they're the ones who are going to be more passionate. Not folks who are going to want to vote a tax increase that really isn't going to fix the budget problem altogether. You still have gaping budget deficits in the future even with a $2.5 billion tax increase.

Ted Simons:
And I want to get to those numbers in a second. We've talked a lot about this on the program. Are there still two avenues here? One designed to get Senator Caroline Allen on and the other to get Senator Gorman on? Are those tracks out there and are they headed out anywhere at all?

Dennis Welch:
I don't know. They've tried repeatedly, specifically over the past couple of weeks to get them on board the budget. There may be room to go off maybe democrat votes. It depends on how the governor plays this. She hasn't said anything right now, which I think is to her advantage to play her cards close to the vest. She hasn't said she's going to veto if they send the budget package up again. But they could offer a couple of things to the Democrats to get them on board.

Ted Simons:
We've heard the name Miranda as someone who might go across the aisle there. What would make a move?

Dennis Welch:
Word today he was the magic vote. Was the guy who was going to cross over and give them the final vote they needed for passage of this thing. They offered a couple of things. One of which was they were going to take a provision out that would allow the legislature to get at voter-approved spending money. The prop 105 money, voter mandated and protected stuff that the legislature would like to get at and be able to get us through these tough times.

Ted Simons:
The next deadline looks to be Monday, regarding the state equalization rate, the state property tax. If that comes and goes, that property tax returns?

Dennis Welch:
Yes, on Monday. Again, this puts a little bit of pressure too on negotiations moving forward this week. No Republican I think out there wants these tax statements to go out there. It's a $250 million -- they look at it as a $250 million tax increase. They don't want that and would like to permanently repeal it.

Ted Simons:
You refer to numbers regarding the state revenue projections in the coming years. Some sobering numbers even with the sales tax hike, even a temporary three-year deal, those numbers don't look good.

Dennis Welch:
No, I think it underscores the level of the problem out there. With revenues dropping so much, even an extra billion a year isn't going to help you. Republican lawmakers will say, listen, these tax cuts are going to help to spur the economy, bring jobs and companies out here and it's going to grow the state coffers. So these numbers in the future aren't going to be as bad as they are. But what we have to go off right now, it doesn't look good for the state moving forward.

Ted Simons:
And Democrats saying tax cuts don't make sense when you don't have a lot of revenue to begin with. The governor doing what she's doing, which is not all that clear, because you're not quite sure where she is on all of this. In terms of who she is talking to and what kind of negotiations are going on.

Dennis Welch:
We heard she was talking to Democrats in an effort to get them on board. But what does she do? The legislature, although they didn't pass the sales tax today, they passed basically the same budget they passed way back on June 30th. Now, they could send -- it appears they're probably sending that budget package up to her in the next couple of days. She's already vetoed this thing. She called it irresponsible -- detrimental to the state.

Ted Simons:
Last question, quickly. What happens the rest of the week?

Dennis Welch:
I think there's going to be a lot of negotiations going on. A lot of arm twisting and deal making, going on behind closed doors and those are really private conversations and I think some Democrats are going to be targeted by the governor's office to try and bring them in line because it's clear that, you know, the Republican votes just aren't there. That they need to deal with some Democrats.

Ted Simons:
All right. Dennis, good stuff. Thanks for joining us, we appreciate it.

Dennis Welch:
Thank you.

Senate Press Room

  |   Video
  • After decades with an office in the state Senate building, the Capitol Press Corps is being forced to move out of the Senate. Reporters talk about move, how it will change the way they cover the legislature, and what they’ll remember about reporting on state government from the Senate Press Room.
Category: Government   |   Keywords: legislature, government, senate,

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
For more than three decades now, state capitol journalists did their reports from the senate press room. But not much longer. That room will soon close and reporters will be moving into new offices just off the legislative campus. That has some reporters worried. Producer Mike Sauceda and videographer Scott Olson attended a "wake" for the senate press room.

Reporter 1:
I threw a chair at López's desk.

Mike Sauceda:
This is the senate press room at the state capitol in Phoenix. Since the mid 1970s, the reporters have been plying their trade just down the hall from hearing rooms and a flight of stairs way from the senate floor. Political stickers are standard in the senate press room.

Howard Fischer:
The editors recognize that everyone who works out here can be trusted to be a self-starter. People in newsrooms, editors need to say, do this and do that. Everyone here is a self-starter. Knows what needs to be covered and knows what to do and given us that freedom and we've probably taken advantage of it in terms of our inability to keep a neat desk.

Mike Sauceda:
It's the room that Don Bowles took that led to his death by car bomb. It won't be home to reporters anymore. The reporters who work in the press room gathered in the room for a wake. Because the reporters are being moved out to make space for lawmakers. Howard Fischer is the dean of the press corps at the capitol.

Howard Fischer:
The official reason is they want this room for a caucus room. And there is a need for a larger caucus room. However, there is other space. Here in the senate, is a room behind one of the senate hearing rooms that has used furniture. Four or five reporters could sit in there. There is space in the old capitol that has access to TV cables. Nobody wants to talk to us about it. I think that Bob Burns wants us out from underfoot. I think that he's just as happy not having us here as much as we are.

Mike Sauceda:
Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Giblin sees a different motive as well.

Paul Giblin:
At the beginning, they were talking about this is going to be the most transparent session and we need you guys to be on the story closely and then what they've done is had all of these secrets meetings and they're kicking the media out. The complete opposite of what they said. They'd like to do things behind closed doors and then show up at a hearing like they might tonight still and vote on the thing without much discussion.

Mike Sauceda:
Senator President Bob Burns says moving the reporters won't hinder their coverage of the legislature. We're talking about professionals who won't let the distance of a few yards get in their way of the people running the state. Reporters will be getting new digs. They'll be moving in with the "The Arizona Guardian" reporters at the Arizona league of cities and towns building about a five-minute walk away from the senate and house building. Although that doesn't seem like such a far walk, reporters worry taking them out of the press room will make a difference.

Howard Fischer:
There are two issues there. One is the issue of proximity. I believe in the law of physics that the simple act of observing something changes that action. Us being here watching what lobbyists are going into what office and seeing who is dealing with whom changes the process. The other issue comes down quite frankly to this TV set sitting in front of me. All the senate and house hearings are broadcast. What that means is that when you have the house commerce committee debating on changes on unemployment insurance and the senate finance committee debating change, we can watch both and multitask and that's important given that most media outlets have fewer people now. This cable is close circuited.

Mike Sauceda:
Giblin has been in the new location for several months now.

Paul Giblin:
We were -- we're going to keep covering the news despite the hurdles presented to us. I firmly believe that the reason we're being kicked out is not to open the room for a caucus. That's ridiculous. They can do it on the floor which is wired for sound and broadcast it live on TV. They just want to move the media out. But we're committed to covering the news and I think some are surprised to see us come back.

Mike Sauceda:
Radio reporters like Barbara Villa of Skyview Radio -- to talk to people in person.

Barbara Villa:
Obviously, it's going to be a big inconvenience not being here, but we'll have to adjust and I've thought about what were things like before we had these closed circuit channels. I can record off the proceedings here. I don't have to be present in the room. That's going to change a lot. It depends on whether or not I'm going to be interested in taking it off the internet or being here physically. I think being here physically is going to be more of an option.

Mike Sauceda:
She said the irony; the move might put reporters more in lawmakers' faces.

Paul Giblin:
When it's a long night, we'll bring the laptops in and work -- maybe work -- what they had hoped. Now we're working right in the hearing room. I'm not sure they thought that would be the anticipated consequence. We're writing in the hearing rooms, sometimes in the seats.

Ted Simons:
Coming up on "Horizon" -- A conversation with Arizona Congressman Trent Franks. Plus, we'll take a look at a plan to generate state revenue by allowing casino games at dog and horse tracks. That's tomorrow at 7:00 on "Horizon." That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you very much forever joining us. You have a great evening.

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