Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

March 27, 2008


Host: Ted Simons

Ballet Arizona

  |   Video
  • A look at Ballet Arizona's latest programs.
Guests:
  • Ross Clarke - Ballet Arizona
Category: The Arts

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
A celebration of dance is being presented by Ballet Arizona. Two completely different programs are being offered on consecutive weekends, March 28 through April 6. Merry Lucero and Videographer David Riffle have a preview.

Merry Lucero:
The dancers of Ballet Arizona are poised to grace the stage of the Orpheum Theater this weekend and next. The company will present their spring program Mixed Repertory 08. Dancer, Ross Clarke explains the program.

Ross Clarke:
Over the next two weekends it's two triple bills, mainly abstract ballets, we don't take on a character as such, a lot of the ballets we do you're usually given a character, these ones are more pure dance. These weekends are great. It is a good way to see the physicality of dance and how we -- pure joy of dance. And we're doing seven different ballets over two weekends.

Merry Lucero:
Four of the works are original pieces by the artistic director Ebe Anderson. Here Anderson conducts a tech rehearsal, making adjustments.

Ross Clarke:
This is the first time on stage. Mainly for getting our spacing, what marks we have to be on. Tiny little marks on the floor, and that's how we know where we are. We are getting that. We are getting used to the lighting. Used to the music cues. This rehearsal wasn't about really dancing, it was mainly about our heads. Getting our heads around the piece, and we will do another one tonight and that will be with everything.

Merry Lucero:
The dancers are marking some of the lifts and more strenuous moves for this rehearsal.

Ross Clarke:
We work on a seven day week this week, and we're doing like two full rehearsals each day, and if we went full out, nonstop, we would get to about Thursday and all pass out. We have to pace ourselves.

Merry Lucero:
The repertory is a combination of cutting edge works. The program this weekend begins with the lyrical contemporary preludes and feuds. Next another piece choreographed by Anderson.

Michelle Mahowald:
It changes from being kind of, I don't know if I want to say cute, but along those lines, but then it goes into a beautiful adagio, and then in the end very charged, energetic, very dynamic.

Merry Lucero:
The next piece This Weekend, is Sinatra Sweet, an intimate duet to the music of Old Blue Eyes. The program this weekend ends with act three of Napoli, a lively 19th century Italian wedding scene. They have both been with ballet Arizona for two seasons and came to the valley to be with the company.

Michelle Mahowald:
I like working with Ebe. I like working with the rest of the dancers. Everyone is just -- the environment is really friendly, really encourages growth, you know, it really -- he really takes his time with his dancers and I very much appreciate that. I think that it is not often that you can find that.

Merry Lucero:
The program beginning Friday, April 4th, features a different lineup of dances which are also a mix of original and showcase pieces.

No Child Left Behind

  |   Video
  • state lawmakers have a bill that would make Arizona the first state to opt out of No Child Left Behind. If the bill is successful, Arizona would lose $600 million dollars in federal education funds. State Representative David Schapira will be on to talk about his bill.
Guests:
  • David Schapira - State Representative
Category: Education

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Hello and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. State lawmakers would like to leave "No Child Left Behind" behind. The house gave tentative approval yesterday to a bill that would make Arizona the first state to opt out of the federal program and its mandates. It would also mean leaving behind $600 million in federal funding. Here to talk about his bill is State Representative David Schapira. Thanks for joining us.

David Schapira:
Thanks for having me.

Ted Simons:
Is that correct, $600 million of federal funds be gone if the state opts out of this program?

David Schapira:
That is not certain. No other state has done this at this point. There are other states that have taken steps, but if we did it, we would be the first state. There is no precedent of the federal government yanking that money. We don't want to punish kids for not wanting to follow those national federal mandates. We would fund the difference what we would lose, minus what we would save by not having to comply with No Child Left Behind. We would fund that out of the general fund starting in fiscal year 2007.

Ted Simons:
That is a tough sell now considering the budget concerns.

David Schapira:
2011 is a ways off. It would start July 1st of 2010, we have some time. The great thing about the way this bill is worded, if we are in low budget times and we can't afford to fund the difference in the two numbers, we won't opt out. Not until we have the money to do it would we opt out. This still makes a strong statement in saying that Arizona intends to opt out of these federal mandates.

Ted Simons:
This idea has been around for a while. Never seemed to get much traction. The idea that the money isn't made up by the state, there is no opt out pretty much helps move things along.

David Schapira:
That is very important. I and others opposed previous attempts to opt out, we are not willing to take $600 out of an already underfunded education system. We are unwilling to comply with some of the mandates being forced on us. Federal government deeming schools as failing schools, even though administrations, teachers have improved, we are yanking those administrations, teachers out of our education system and out of our schools, despite the fact they are making progress, but not adequate progress.

Ted Simons:
We were talking about the matrix, the maze of things that school districts have to go through to get through No Child Left Behind. Is that a major factor here? What is your biggest problem with this?

David Schapira:
Two major problems. They are putting mandates on our schools, classrooms. I don't know how many educators -- we as a state need to continue to have high standards, but we need to address the real problem, which is funding. We have a drastically underfunded school system, low paid teachers, not treated as professionals in Arizona, because of not just pay but benefits, and the way they are treated oftentimes by administration. That is one problem, the other is the highly qualified requirement on teachers. We may have a teacher with a masters degree, doctorate in a subject, and is doing a great job, but if they don't meet these criteria set out by the folks in 535 folks in congress, then they don't meet the requirements in school in turn doesn't meet the requirements set by the fed.

Ted Simons:
And yet, most lawmakers, including Superintendent Horne are saying don't like it, don't like it, but if we have to lose money, we will stay in.

David Schapira:
I think the fear was that we would lose money and we wouldn't find a way to fund it. The amendment we ran on the floor, if we don't fund the difference in the state general fund, we don't opt out. Superintendent Horne, I can imagine, as the head of the department of education would be concerned about losing $600 million, but we would be ensure that that wouldn't happen.

Ted Simons:
How many other states are having a problem with no child left behind?

David Schapira:
In my experience I would say all other states are having a problem. National organizations, American Federation of Teachers, have come out and talked about the problems universally with this. I was reading an article before I came here about issues they're having in Alaska with No Child Left Behind. A lot of states are having issues, but they are afraid to tell the federal government because that they don't want comply because they don't want to lose that funding. Colorado has taken some pretty broad steps but essentially they're caveat was, if we lose the funding, we won't opt out. I think we need to go a step further, we intend to opt out and we will pay for it ourselves but we don't intend to follow your federal mandates anymore

Ted Simons:
If that message that of "we will pay for it ourselves," doesn't curry favor at the legislature is a message bill going to be enough sending something to Congress saying hey, we just don't like this?

David Schapira:
Well, the bill sets a date of July 1st, 2010, when the opt out would begin. My true hope in working this legislation, is that the federal government will get together and fix and fund No Child Left Behind. That hasn't happened in the six years since its enactment. I don't see any progress being made right now. I am hoping in the next couple of years that they do fix it and they do fund it.

Ted Simons:
Even with the new administration coming in.

David Schapira:
I'm hoping the new administration will make that difference. I'm hoping that Senator Obama will be that new administration and that will be the difference in working with congress but we will see.

Ted Simons:
That's a different conversation for a different day. Thanks for joining us.

Political Academy

  |   Video
  • More than 50 Arizona high school students recently joined more than 400 students from around the world for a behind-the-scenes look at the relationship between science, technology and politics in the Honeywell Scholars at the Presidential Classroom program in Washington, D.C. Don Wilt of Honeywell and Chandler student Brianna Arendt talk about the program.
Guests:
  • Don Wilt - Honeywell Scholars at Presidential program
  • Briana Arendt - Student who attended the Honeywell program
Category: Education

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Several dozen Arizona students recently joined over 400 from around the world to participate in a week-long seminar to learn how science, technology, and public policy interact. I'll talk to one of the students and a spokesman from Honeywell, which gave scholarships to the event. First here's more on the program.

Mike Sauceda:
428 students from 31 countries around the world, and 31 U.S. States recently participated in a program designed to expose them to the connections between science, technology, and public policy. Among those students were 56 Arizona high school students who were awarded scholarships to attend the week long Honeywell Scholars at Presidential Classroom Program held in Washington D.C., March 2nd, to the 8th. Brianna Arendtof Chandler was among those who attended the event. They were given scholars based on academic record and community involvement. The scholarships covered tuition, meals, and accommodations paid for by Honeywell employees. During the program, students met with congressmen, business leaders, government appointees and scientists. All shared their expertise with the students. Elizabeth Sherman, Executive Director Of Presidential Classroom said they leave with a greater understanding of the intersection between science, technology, and public policy and how solutions to today's problems can be addressed. Since the presidential classroom program was started in 2005, over 800 students have graduated from it.

Ted Simons: Here now to tell us more about the Honeywell scholars at presidential program is Don Wilt of Honeywell, and Briana Arendt, who attended the program. Thank you for joining us.

Don Wilt:
Thank you.

Briana Arendt:
Thank you.

Ted Simons:
We will start with you, an overview of what the program is designed to do.

Don Wilt:
Thanks for your interest, this is important to the country, important to Arizona. This is part of a broader initiative on Honeywell's part to generate interest on the part of young people in the field of technology, math, science, so that we can continue our remarkable records of achievement in areas such as space.

Ted Simons:
As far as selecting these students for the academy, awarding the scholarships, what was looked at?

Don Wilt:
We are quite selective. The screening is done by the Presidential Classroom Program, which has been in existence since 1968. Honeywell joined the program five years ago by beginning to sponsor one whole week devoted to science and technology. These young people have to demonstrate in writing that they will make good use of their experience, they have demonstrated an ability to commit themselves to something and accomplish it, and we take a look at what they are doing in the community to see if they are the kind of person, what we call the rising generation of leaders.

Ted Simons:
It sounds like a lot of fun back there in D.C. tell us about what you did and what you experienced.

Briana Arendt:
Okay. One day was totally devoted to Capitol Hill, and that was a unique experience, because we got to sit on the house floor. Filled up the entire house floor, and Mickey Edwards spoke to us. We got to meet with our congressman Jeff Flake, I met with my congressman, and another neat experience was we went to the air and space museum, and Honeywell rented out the entire museum for the night. We got the entire museum to ourselves to explore and see.

Ted Simons:
Before you left on the trip, and took part in this, what were you expecting and now that you are back, how different does it seem from what you expected?

Briana Arendt:
It's kind of -- I wanted to -- I expected to see the city and tour, which is what we did, but I didn't expect to meet as many students as I did. I met students from all around the world, learned about their cultures and where they are from and that was the neatest experience for me.

Ted Simons:
As far as what you want to do, what you want to take from this, what are you looking at, math, science?

Briana Arendt:
Math, science, not too sure what.

Ted Simons:
Astronaut, doctor --

Briana Arendt:
Possibly, astronaut, doctor maybe.

Ted Simons:
You could be an astronaut doctor.

Briana Arendt:
There you go.

Ted Simons:
These students obviously go back there, how do you make sure that all of the fun of seeing a terrific city, that you get the learning done as well?

Don Wilt:
I will credit two different parties for that. The first The Presidential Classroom Program. They do a wonderful job of taking, as we mentioned, over 400 students there for a whole week. They respect every speaker. Get up very early, 6:00 in the morning, go to 11:00 at night. The second half of the equation is the students themselves, people like Brianna really distinguish the state of Arizona when they were in the nation's capitol.

Ted Simons:
What kind of impression did they make on the people they met with, politicians, folks at the museums, mathematicians what were they saying about the kids?

Don Wilt:
One of the women, by the way, Eileen Collins, the first female commander at the space shuttle, every single one of them commented on these students and said they are glad they don't have to compete with them today at their age in order to try to pursue their dreams, because they wouldn't have gotten in, been the ones chosen against this class of students. We can be very proud of them.

Ted Simons:
A lot of museums, Arlington national cemetery among the places that you went to, was there one thing that stands out?

Briana Arendt:
The Smithsonian air and space museum, we had the whole place to ourself. We got to see the Imax and they served us dinner on the floor of the museum. Unique experience.

Ted Simons:
Important question, high school student, where are you going to college?

Briana Arendt:
A.S.U. probably.

Ted Simons:
Excellent answer. That's the answer we're looking for.

Don Wilt:
I was going to cut to the chase and say go to honeywell.com and take it from there as far as our involvement goes. And also the presidential classroom. Honeywell sponsors one full week, and there are actually seven weeks of presidential classroom focusing on a different interest for the students.

Briana Arendt:
Thank you.

state Budget

  |   Video
  • state Treasurer Dean Martin says the state will be out of money soon unless lawmakers and the governor act to end the current year budget shortfall. Martin will talk about the issue.
Guests:
  • Dean Martin - State Treasurer
Category: Business/Economy

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
State Treasurer Dean Martin says the budget is falling, but Governor Janet Napolitano thought at first he was just being a Chicken Little. But Martin says the state will be out of money by no later than May 5th unless lawmakers and the governor act. Earlier I talked to Martin about the state's budget mess.

Ted Simons:
State treasurer, Dean Martin, thank you for joining us.

Dean Martin:
Thank you for having me.

Ted Simons:
Governor compares you to Chicken Little. Interesting. Why is she wrong?

Dean Martin:
If the governor didn't like the reports on the numbers of spending that we have seen so far, and we're the bank. Every dollar that the state collects, no matter where it comes from, has to be deposited with us, every dollar that goes out the door comes from us. We see the money coming and going much we are trying to warn the legislature that they have a problem and the governor if they don't pass a budget pretty soon.

Ted Simons:
She said that your comments didn't help solve the problem.

Dean Martin:
We were asked, by law, by statute, if a member of the legislature asks for information about where the state is, finances are, we have to answer that question. I also do it for members of the public as well, it is their money, not mine. We were asked at the legislature, the current revenue estimates, which are less than they originally appropriated, they're looking 9.2 to as little as $8.9 billion in revenue. The state appropriated 10.6, at the rate they have been spending, how long will it last before they run out of that 9.2 billion? We did the numbers back in January. Obviously, the economy has gotten worse. They asked can you revise those numbers? We did so. That's where we came up with this estimate of somewhere between the 22nd and the 5th of May, the state will have overdrawn the general fund account.

Ted Simons:
Is that why you decided then to make that particular announcement?

Dean Martin:
Yes, I mean, we're the bank. Most normal banks, if you overdraw your account, they don't tell you in advance, they just take money out of the savings account and charge you a big fee. We are a little bit different. The state has a savings account money in other accounts, but legally I can't touch that without a bill being passed by the legislature, signed by the governor. I can't take out of our savings to cover the general fund. I need a bill. We were trying to tell them in advance with enough warning that they would still have time to fix this before that day comes down.

Ted Simons:
I know the governor had problems with the timing of your announcement. Press conference, half hour before her weekly briefing.

Dean Martin:
It was chosen because I have my monthly board of investment, our oversight board is at 10:30, and we chose to go -- we couldn't go at the same time as the governor. I didn't know the governor's meeting was at 10:00. We scheduled for 9:30, so we had everything ready to go for our meeting at 10:30. I didn't know until after the release was out that the governor was at 10:00. It was a happy coincidence or an unhappy coincidence depending on where you are.

Ted Simons:
Is the state spending money now as much, as quickly as it did before the governor directed her agency heads to curb spending?

Dean Martin:
We have not seen a slow down in spending and that's what surprised us. As of march when we did the analysis, the state had spent $6.668 billion out of the -- 7.668 out of the general fund, on a path to spend as much, or a little more than the $10.6 billion that was originally appropriated. We had not seen a slowing down. That surprised us. We expected to see some slow down. That was one of the reasons that we were warning the legislature, without action, there is no way to force agencies to stop spending without changing the appropriations law.

Ted Simons:
That night we had the governor on the show for her monthly appearance here, and we talked a bit about this, and one of the quotes from the show, that he, you, "not correct. He is making presumptions about what state agencies are doing, he doesn't have that kind of information." Is she wrong?

Dean Martin:
We know everything about where the money is and where it is going. We have to, by law. State agent is A.R.S. 3515 they can't have a bank account outside the treasures office without us knowing about it and giving permission. Since then the governor has since backed away from that statement. I was referring to the rainy day fund. We were always saying the rainy day fund is there. We need statutory changes to tap into it in this crisis. Without that we are going to have potentially a big problem. We don't know when we run to the $9.2 billion of revenue, whatever it is, whether or not they can still issue warrants at that point. We have never had this problem in state history. Every time before a budget shortfall, we have always fixed it before we have gotten this close. We are essentially trying to sound the clarion call. I wouldn't have done it if we hadn't been this close. I have been to the legislature, we need to know how much time do we have left before we need to pass a '08 budget, we said five to seven weeks and it is four to six weeks now.

Ted Simons:
What happens if there is no budget deal when the cash runs out?

Dean Martin:
That is a very good question. Balanced budget requirement in the constitution. Can they continue to issue -- it is not a problem for us at the bank. A warrant that is valid, we will cover it, we have $5.2 billion of state money in the bank, it is not an issue of the state not having money, it is just the general fund account. Is it a valid warrant if the account is at zero? We don't know that. We've asked the attorney general, can they continue to issue warrants once they spend all of the money they expect to receive that day, essentially deficit spending. We don't have an answer yet. I would rather avoid that. The reason why we had the press conference, we are releasing this to the public is it is a lot simpler to just fix the budget than it is to try to go down these untested legal waters.

Ted Simons:
Real quickly, during her press briefing, the governor said something about he doesn't know what is being held in reserve. I think that that has been somewhat modified a little bit since then, but are their agencies with reserve accounts that you are unaware of?

Dean Martin:
No, literally every dime has to be with us. Money from a vending machine in the state capitol is deposited with us. They cannot open a bank account and squirrel away money, that would be violating the law and I don't think anybody is doing that.

Ted Simons:
What did your announcement, the information you decided to go public with, what did it accomplish?

Dean Martin:
It got the public and legislature's attention that this is a problem that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. A lot who hadn't focused on it as much. One of the reasons why the appropriations chairman asked us to do this, how much time do we have left to fix the problem? Legislature is a busy place. A lot of things they're wanting to do. They've got to prioritize, you have five weeks to seven, you need to figure out what you need to do to get that done that quickly.

Ted Simons:
Last question, would you have handled this differently if given the opportunity?

Dean Martin:
No, absolutely not. This is not my money. This is not the legislature's money, the governor's money, it is the public's money. We're getting to a point where this is of concern. We are not in a situation where we're worried about not getting paid. When we get to April 15th, and we have to make that last double school payment that we have resources for in the account and we don't have a new budget, then I would get worried that we may have a problem. I don't want to wait. I was there at the legislature when we had the problem in 2001, 2002, 2003, and we weren't told where we were until it was too late. Always trying to play catch up to the recession. I'm trying to give them warning and enough time to fix it before it catches up with them, and I would do the same thing all over again. I was surprised at how much attention it received, as much as anybody else, we didn't expect it to get this much interest.

Ted Simons:
Thank you for joining us.

Dean Martin:
Thank you for having me.

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