Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

April 8, 2005


Host: Michael Grant

Journalists Roundtable


  • some state lawmakers making the trek to Southern Arizona border to check up on the minuteman project. It appears progress is being made between Governor Janet Napolitano and Republican legislative leaders on a new budget agreement, with some suggesting the two sides are getting close to a deal. And just a week after announcing a plan for a ballot initiative on classroom spending that proposal has run into trouble.
Guests:
  • Phil Risk - Arizona Capitol Times
Category: Journalists Roundtable

View Transcript
>> Michael Grant:
It's Friday, April 8, 2005. In the headlines this week, some state lawmakers making the trek to Southern Arizona border to check up on the minuteman project. It appears progress is being made between Governor Janet Napolitano and Republican legislative leaders on a new budget agreement, with some suggesting the two sides are getting close to a deal. And just a week after announcing a plan for a ballot initiative on classroom spending that proposal has run into trouble. That's next on "Horizon."

>> Michael Grant:
Good evening, I'm Michael Grant. This happens to be the Journalists Roundtable. Joining me to talk about these and other stories are Phil Riske of Arizona capital times, Howie Fischer of Capitol Media Services, and also Robbie Sherwood of the "Arizona Republic". Issues relating to illegal immigration once again a hot topic of discussion at the state's capitol this week. Senate appropriations committee approved a watered down version of House Bill 2030 which would deny some services to those who are here illegally. Howie, what changes were made from the version that had been okayed by the house?

>> Howard Fischer:
The real big change has to do with higher education. When the house approved the bill, they said that if you are not here legally you may not attend a state-funded university or community college. I think that caught a few lawmakers by surprise who thought, it's one thing to say, well, you know, additional restrictions. So what happened is when the thing went to the Senate appropriations committee they said, if you're not here legally or can't prove you're here legally, you pay the higher out of state tuition, the idea being that the tuition at a university for out of state residents, 12 to 13,000 a year is not subsidized by taxpayers, versus the 4,000, 4500 they'll be charge 86 next year.

>> Michael Grant:
A group of religious leaders coming down to the capitol to testify against fit.

>> Howard Fischer:
Yes this, group said we should not be doing things to harm illegals because it causes a climate of fear. They said there were people refusing to go for services they are entitled to like emergency care because they're afraid to what happened. This led to an interesting confrontation over in the Senate appropriations committee. One of the priests from a Catholic church here in Phoenix said, you know, we want you to back off, and that led to some questions from senator Ron Harper and -- excuse me, Jack Harper and Ron Gould to say, well, okay, these people are here illegally. When they come across, do you provide them aid? Brother Fitzsimmons said, we provide them charity. Mr. Gould, always one that we enjoy for comments said, well, you know, that amounts to treason, which, of course now caused the interfaith network to request an apology from him.

>> Robbie Sherwood:
It's probably not going to happen.

>> Michael Grant:
Interfaith asked for the apology today?

>> Howard Fischer:
Today. Obviously -- Mr. Gould's point is that if you know somebody is here illegally, if you know that we have laws, whether you like them or not against people crossing the border illegally and you are in fact helping them, whether it becomes not quite like the sanctuary movement of two decades ago but you are providing them aid an assistance, is it treason to violate federal law? Some would consider it civil disobedience.

>> Robbie Sherwood:
To go back to the university provision for one second, I still think some people might find that the higher tuition onerous in certain cases. Reminds me of a young girl I wrote a story about a couple years ago who was brought over the border by her mother as an infant. She didn't choose to come here. She came with her mother. She grew up in Phoenix, attended Camelback high school, was the school's valedictorian of the school, and was -- had an opportunity to go to a university. This would prevent her or cause her to pay out of state tuition. She wasn't from a rich family. This would have prevented her from going to school. She was as American as apple pie except she was brought here illegal by her parents.

>> Howard Fischer:
The argument of the people is the parents shouldn't have brought the kid here anyway. Why should we continue to furnish their education through college?

>> Robbie Sherwood:
Why should we punish the child of the sins of the parent?

>> Howard Fischer:
That becomes an issue of who ultimately is responsible. If kids are presumed innocent of everything the parents do, does that mean the kids get all services?

>> Michael Grant:
Well, Robbie, don't take this as a negative, some people comment why should we be hosing Californians and not hosing illegal aliens. Personally I think it's okay to hose Californians, too --

>> Robbie Sherwood:
I'm for anything that hoses Californians.

>> Michael Grant:
About the time we signed off this show last Friday the governor vetoed the bill that would have implemented the prop 200 voting provisions, basically centering around the right to get a provisional ballot.

>> Robbie Sherwood:
Yeah, this is something that the governor said doesn't jibe with the voting rights act, which is that if you are registered to vote and you are who you say you are but you don't happen to have your I.D., should you be denied a provisional ballot at the ballot box? What she argued was this was moved very -- moved by Secretary of State Jan Brewer, our top elected official. This bill, had it be been passed, would have prevented Jan Brewer if she was the victim of a crime the Monday before the election and got her purse stolen, this would have prevented her from casting each a provisional ballot. So it was seen as something that's not going to affect illegal immigrants trying to sneak into our elections but ordinary Arizonans who had bad luck.

>> Michael Grant:
Howie, backing away from the jots and Tittles --

>> Howard Fischer:
Is that a candy?

>> Michael Grant:
When you look at the security measures that are built into provisional ballot, I mean, you take a provisional ballot and you confirm the person is registered, they are who they are, those kinds of things, that would not seem to be consistent with at least the spirit and thrust and intent of Proposition 200.

>> Howard Fischer:
And that seems to be the issue there, because what you do if you get a provisional ballot, they put the ballot aside in a sealed envelope and your signature is on the front. At the end of the evening when the ballots are checked, they take it back to county elections offices and compare the signatures. If the signatures on the registration match, then the ballot is counted. And what's interesting is prop 200 says in order to register to vote, to get that signature on the form in the first place, you have to provide not just proof of identification but proof of citizenship. So even Kathy McKee, who pushed Proposition 200, who helped craft it, said it was never our intention to get rid of provisional ballot. This is something that goes beyond Proposition 200. This isn't the question of the governor refusing to implement prop 200, this is her refusing to do something that goes beyond it.

>> Michael Grant:
English as the official language of the State of Arizona, including but not limited to -- well, no, I can't say that, ballots -- how is that faring?

>> Robbie Sherwood:
In the same committee hearing in which the religious leaders testified, they talked about the referendum to make English the official language, make sure the ballots and things like be are only printed in English. That's poised for what is going to be an intense Senate floor fight.

>> Howard Fischer:
The fact is you made the mention of the ballot. When the measure went before the house, Russell Pearce did, in fact, add language that says all ballot materials, all voting materials, pamphlets, everything else, shall only be in evening English, which raises the question --

>> Michael Grant:
That would be a problem under the voting rights.

>> Howard Fischer:
That's the assumption. Russell Pearce's argument says the voting rights act says we cannot demand people prove they are fluent in English. That's what got us under the voting rights act in 1965, a literacy requirement. His contention is that the voting rights act does not preclude that state from simply saying the material shall be in English. I think he's looking for a lawsuit on that one.

>> Robbie Sherwood:
I can only guess why they're doing this but there's also a statutory version of that bill that emerged in the house and Pearce's committee and appropriations is coming Monday. So does it all same things he can except it doesn't put it to voters. I'm guessing this is something they may want to land on the governor's desk and challenge her with it whether to sign or veto that.

>> Michael Grant: Let me see, Howie, how's the minuteman thing going down there in Arizona?

>> Howard Fischer: Well, depends on who you talk to, I suppose. The border patrol says, well, they have reported some illegal immigrants to us and we've picked them up. What seems to be happening is that news travelling fast, folks realize that the area between, say, NACO and Agua Prieta now has more large white men in T-shirts than you can shake a stick at, so they have moved over to the Tohono O'odham reservations. This is -- this is the problem all along. We have more illegals coming through Arizona because they tightened the border in California and Texas. Are they have having an effect? If you were coming through NACO and Agua Prieta a, sure. Are they having an overall effect on immigration? I suspect the whole intent was to raise awareness.

>> Phil Riske:
Has the announced addition of 2,000 border patrol agents, is that enough? I mean, has anybody ever come out with a figure, we need this many agents to really seal off this border?

>> Howard Fischer:
I'll give you two different answers to that. I've lived along the border, I lived at Bisbee. There are four strands of barbed wire there, and if you put a border patrol agent every 500 feet, maybe, maybe, you'd have enough. We've got over a thousand miles of border. You figure out how many border patrol agents are required. The other issue comes down to a question that's been pending both in Congress and the legislature, which is, okay, we're paying attention on the border, but we really haven't done a lot in terms of cracking down on companies that hire these people. This is a supply and demand issue. People come here because they know they can get jobs. Employers recognize that, in fact, there's very little enforcement. If somebody presents a card, that looks like an I.D. card to me, they hire them, and the government never comes in and says what have you truly done. Until the border patrol does that we're going to have this problem.

>> Robbie Sherwood:
There was a really interesting article in the "New York Times" this week that might also explain why the federal government is maybe not as aggressive on illegal immigration as they ought to be, and that's because payroll taxes from those illegal immigrants appear to be propping up our Social Security system to the tune of $8 billion. The illegal immigrants in order to get a lot of jobs fake Social Security numbers. Once you do that, the employer starts withholding payroll taxes for a tax return that's never going to be filed and never is going to be claimed and they're guessing now that that's about $8 billion in --

>> Michael Grant:
That I suppose ultimately defaults to the general fund.

>> Robbie Sherwood:
Yeah.

>> Michael Grant:
But we got an I.O.U. for it so we're in good shape. There were reports earlier this week that Governor Napolitano and the Republican leadership in the legislature were getting closer to reaching a budget deal. Phil, where do we stand and do we believe those reports?

>> Phil Riske:
Well, I think you'd have to cast some degree of doubt on that. The governor hasn't been all that positive this week about how things were going. In fact, she said, we have a lot -- have a long way to go. Senator Aguirre, the democratic leader in the Senate, said yesterday that she had heard they were close, however, the issue of corporate and business tax incentives and breaks could be a deal breaker. Apparently neither side is budging very much on that tax question, and each though they're close on a lot of the money things, that could, in fact, hang them up.

>> Michael Grant:
Any particular aspect of that package? Because the governor was on last night and I asked her specifically about the property tax valuation going from 25 to 20 and the other -- the Intel provision. She seemed foursquare behind the reducing the property tax valuation rate. Said that the Intel bill needed some tweaking. Any idea where the tension is, over what aspects --

>> Phil Riske:
No. Maybe Robbie has heard more on the specifics.

>> Howard Fischer:
Part of what's happened is there are two issues. In terms of the Intel bill, this is the one that would say, if in fact -- right now corporations pay their corporate income tacks based on a formula based half on your sales in Arizona compared to your worldwide sales, one quarter on your payroll here and one quarter on your property. What Intel warrants is something would that base your income tax in Arizona based on sales here. Guess what percentage are actually sold in Arizona?

>> Michael Grant:
Smaller than actually the Chip size itself?

>> Howard Fischer:
Exactly. Essentially this would wipe out the property tax of Intel, ray Raytheon, since I'm sure they're not setting a lot of missiles in Arizona, Honeywell, Boeing, etc. The governor's concern is that on one hand Intel has said we have a $5 billion plant we're trying to locate. But when the Intel people were asked outright, if we change our tax laws to benefit you, will you come here? They say, Hmm... we don't know. I think that's part of the problem.

>> Robbie Sherwood:
This could end up being about a $100 million corporate tax break for Intel and other manufacturers who sell most of their things out of state. I think the governor would like some kind of indication this will keep you here. And the sales factor hasn't exactly shown that in other states. I think actually Intel itself has moved more of its plants to non-sales tax states than the opposite. And Intel is looking at building in countries like China, which is actually paying them to come there. So a break on taxes, which is only about 2\% of your cost for a business like that, when China is actually paying you to come, I don't know it's a competitive measure.

>> Michael Grant:
So, Phil, where -- let's get back to the issue of -- I don't know, are we a week away? Are we 10 days away? Are we a couple months away?

>> Phil Riske:
Maybe mid-next week. One thing that's happened is the governor did reveal they have found another $87 million above projected revenues that are in the current vetoed budget. So there's some money there, as well as --

>> Michael Grant:
This fiscal year --

>> Phil Riske:
Part current fiscal year, part for '06, and they've also found that the access case loads are -- have to be lower, which would save money, and they've discovered some further savings in K-12, I understand. I don't know how long it's going to take to have a budget agreement, but I'll bet a lot of money they're not going to make the 100-day goal of adjourning on April 15th. The astute observers, the three of us sitting at the table here, would project something more probably toward the end of the month. The last hundred-day session was in the year 2000 under Governor Hull. Governor Symington had four legislative sessions that were fewer than 100 days.

>> Howard Fischer:
Part of the problem becomes, we're arguing philosophy now. We're not even arguing so much the money. The money may be there. The question is do we borrow for schools, do we raid the rainy day fund. The question is, is there going to be business tax breaks? Everybody seems to say which ones? The governor proposed very narrow ones for research and development. She is willing to look at the lowering of the assessed valuation of businesses which would de facto reduce property taxes by 20\% but again she wants to also make sure we're not going to write our write ourselves into a corner. This is going to be phased out over 10 years. What happens down the road?

>> Robbie Sherwood:
I do predict that eventually we're getting close to a budget deal story will be correct, and maybe as early as Monday. I've been told that they do plan to maybe pull a late-nighter, all-nighter, trying to get all the last details. A lot of it is not even the money. Yeah, the taxes is going to hang them up but there's a lot of weasels in the wood pile that are written in as footnotes to the budget that I think they throw in sue to see if anybody will catch them.

>> Michael Grant:
Phil, headed for the governor's office is the so-called conscience bill for pharmacists, and I don't think it stands a chance.

>> Phil Riske:
Likely headed for a veto as well. She calls it the refusal to sell bill these rights of conscious bills started popping up across the country after the row V. Wade decision. Basically what Arizona is looking at is a law that adds pharmacists to laws that already allow healthcare professionals and institutions to refuse to issue medicine or devices that could cause an abortion or emergency contraceptives such as the morning after pill.

>> Howard Fischer:
That's really the hangup on this one. It isn't so much RU-486. The morning after pill, we're not just talking about, gee, I forgot last night. We're talking about rape victims. We're talking about people who have otherwise had an emergency, and particularly if you're in a rural area and the pharmacist says I'm not going to provide it, I'm not going to transfer your script somewhere else, you end up with real problems here. In fact, some states have gone the other way. The governor of Illinois last week, in fact, when he had an incident with an Osco pharmacy issued an executive order saying you will prescribe. You will not have any delay when you're giving out the morning after pill.

>> Robbie Sherwood:
It's not just limited to a single pharmacist. There's the worry, I suppose, that should this pass that whose consciousness makes the decision not to sell? And is it your corporate CEO? Will there then be intense public pressure campaign on say, a Wal-Mart, Walgreen's or an entire chain not to sell these things?

>> Michael Grant:
We talked about this one on Wednesday, Robbie, representative Tom O'Halleran trying to get back on track with the cold medication meth lab legislation, but kind of ran into a bumpy road.

>> Robbie Sherwood:
Yeah, it came back from the dead and this is a bill that would keep the cold medicine, the pills, behind a counter-sold by a pharmacist, not the gel tabs or liquids, but stuff that is used to cook meth. Became a strike everything amendment in a committee and heads to -- this is a little arcane, but every bill in the legislature has to go through a rules committee to determine if it's constitutional in proper form, make the rules chairman pretty powerful. In this case it's Bob Robson from Chandler. The proponents of this bill went to the Phoenix city council to kind of get their support in a live meeting for this legislation. There were some questions about who might possibly hold this Inc. up, and the rules chairman, Robson's name, was mentioned abs somebody who could possibly stand in the way of the thing. So councilman Claude Mattox said we have to call Bob Robson and tell him to let this bill go. Robson took --

>> Michael Grant:
Robson was watching TV.

>> Robbie Sherwood:
Public access, apparently from Chandler. He took great umbrage at that statement and is hanging his decision not to hear the bill based on being insulted --

>> Howard Fischer:
The fact is this bill is going nowhere. The Senate passed a version of the bill, and all it says if people cook meth, we'll crackdown on them. It limits a single meth purchase at any time to 9 grams, which is about 150 doses, as opposed to 9 grams for the entire month. That's all the Senate is really going to do.

>> Robbie Sherwood:
That's the industry bill. The competitive bill -- yeah, that bill is seen to be as not very effective. Because it's limited -- limiting the amount of cold medicine you can purchase, but it's per transaction. That's assuming drug addicts aren't clever enough to go around and get back in line again.

>> Michael Grant:
Phil, the -- what finally happened on the proposal to cap the city tax rates on cable television?

>> Phil Riske:
Well, some strange things happened there. It passed the Senate on Thursday -- yes, Wednesday or Thursday, and then -- although these people couldn't explain it very well, it was passed under a cloud of misinformation, and so senator Aguirre requested on the floor on Thursday that the house return the bill so that the Senate could reconsider. She's seeing that a lot of Democrats who voted for the bill would now vote no. I'm told today that the house is not going to return the bill. So it's over there --

>> Michael Grant:
Couldn't they have just tackled the guy who was transporting it across the mall?

>> Phil Riske:
I don't know what the protocol on that is, but we asked senator Aguirre, who was spreading the misinformation about these fees and so forth? And she just kind of -- not going there.

>> Howard Fischer:
The issue is that she blew it, and that's a whole another show by itself. What's interesting about this bill, is the cable industry is presenting themselves as friend of the consumer. Any taxes the city levies are passed along. Some cities have 5\% franchise fees and taxes. Tucson has like 8\%. What the industry is saying, look, this was fine when we were the only show in town. You now have satellite TV. You cannot tax under state law satellite services. There is no nexus. It goes from the air to your living room. So there saying we're losing business to satellite. So they're saying we want to cut the cost. The original bill would say you could only charge the sales tax like you normally do. This compromise would say you could charge for 4\% and ask for two public access channels. The cities want all the free channels --

>> Robbie Sherwood:
This goes back a come years to the ongoing market share war between satellite and cable, and for at least the last two years the effort has been to raise the tax on satellite. Well, that just hasn't been -- even though -- so now -- maybe we could make it fair if we lower ours.

>> Michael Grant:
You can always tell when reporters are sitting around for something to happen on the budget because they start reading bills that they didn't quite get to. That seems to have been the case with your colleague, Chip Scutari. Actually, this is a pretty interesting omnibus liquor reform bill and I'm dying to go to the grocery store and do some sampling.

>> Robbie Sherwood:
It's very -- an omnibus bill is a bill that has many measures in there, and one of the most interesting things about this is -- which is why omnibus bills are so controversial, this is a bill that would allow tasting or sampling of wine and beer in grocery stores for limited time periods, 12 days a year, in 3-ounce shots.

>> Michael Grant:
A -- beer 3 ounces, wine ounce and and a half.

>> Robbie Sherwood:
This is more key for wine than beer. Beer has an 80\% share of the market. They know people are drinking beer. But the wine industry is trying to market new brands. And before you drop $60 on a Pinot Noir, you might want to taste it. But this is controversial because it's adding free samples of liquor in Bashas' and other grocery stores. This measure has failed in the past --

>> Howard Fischer:
This has a bunch of other stuff in there, too. There's something about you can't have a liquor store within 300 feet of a school. That would be overruled. Then there is a provision that says you can't have the new machines that you pour the drink into and you get to inhale the drink.

>> Robbie Sherwood:
I think this bill is toast unless they pull out that provision near churches and schools. Although the reason it is, there are charter schools now in every strip mall.

>> Michael Grant:
I hate to interrupt, panelists, but we're really out of time. If you would like to see a transcript of tonight's program. It's at www.azpbs.org. When you get there, click on the word "Horizon." That will lead you to transcripts, links and information on upcoming shows.

>> Larry Lemmons:
An update on a state bill that requires that Sudafed be sold behind the counter and buyers would need an I.D. Supporters say it will curb meth use. A conversation with Wall Street Journal editorial writer Paul Gigot and a tour of Wickenburg's Desert Caballero Museum Monday night at 7:00 on Channel 8's Horizon.

>> Michael Grant:
Thanks for joining us this evening. Have a great weekend. I'm Michael Grant. Good night.

Content Partner: