Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

July 28, 2008


Host: Ted Simons

Ethics Committee

  |   Video
  • The Arizona State Ethics Committee meets today to determine if they will investigate the ethics complaint filed against Sen. Jack Harper of Surprise. Sen. Ken Cheuvront of Phoenix filed the complaint, alleging Harper, acting as Chairman, cut off a debate concerning same-sex marriage on the final night of the legislative session. The committee's chairman, Sen. Jay Tibshraeny, discusses the committee's decision.
Guests:
  • Senator Jay Tibshraeny - Chairman of the State Senate Ethics Committee


View Transcript
>>Ted Simons:
Good evening, and thanks for joining us tonight on "Horizon", I'm Ted Simons. The state senate ethics committee met today to determine whether to dismiss or proceed with an ethics complaint by Senator Ken Cheuvront of Phoenix against Senator Jack Harper of Surprise. We are going to show you exactly what happened but first let's set the stage. Senator Cheuvront was engaged in a discussion with Senator Paula Aboud of Tucson on the floor of the committee of the whole. Senator Harper was acting as chairman. Here's what happened.

>>Ken Cheuvront:
I'm going to read on a little bit later. The question I have, Mr. Chairman, Senator Aboud, how do you think an increase in the sales tax would affect not only the retail classification, but also the prime contractor sales classification?

>> Paula Aboud:
Well, that's --

>>Jack Harper: O
ne second. It clicked on the wrong thing; I clicked on the clear mics. If you'd like to speak go ahead and push your buttons again. Okay, I see, Senator Verschoor, you have the floor.

>>Thayer Verschoor:
Mr. Chairman, I move that this bill -- that this bill and the rest of the bills be retained on the calendar.

>>Jack Harper:
You heard that motion, is there any discussion? All those in favor say aye.

>> Aye.

>> Any opposed say nay.

>> Point of order.

>> Point of order!

>> Point of order!

>> That is not permissible.

>> I've had my mike off for some time.

>>Jack Harper:
Thank you Senator Verschoor. The chair recognizes Senator Verschoor.

>>Thayer Verschoor:
Mr. Chairman, I move the committee as a whole rise and report.

>>Jack Harper:
You heard that motion, is there any discussion? All in favor say aye.

>>Jack Harper:
Any opposed say nay.

>>Jack Harper:
The ayes appear to have it, so ordered.

>>Ted Simons:
Joining me now with an update on the incident, the Chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee, Senator Jay Tibshraeny. Thanks for joining us.

>>Jay Tibshraeny: Thanks for having me.

>>Ted Simons:
Our committee today had a preliminary hearing. What happened?

>> Jay Tibshraeny:
We had a hearing today of the Senate Ethics Committee, comprised of five senate members. It was not a hearing on whether an ethical violation was committed. It was strictly whether to dismiss the case or go further in terms of having another hearing. That's what we were doing today. The committee voted 3-2 not to dismiss the charges but to proceed to the next hearing.

>>Ted Simons:
And you voted to proceed. Why?

>>Jay Tibshraeny:
I think at this stage I wanted to hear some testimony, which today we couldn't take any testimony because of the nature of the hearing today. So to let some people talk and to air this out a little, I thought that was the fairest thing to do. So that was the reason for my vote. It wasn't a vote of implying anything one way or the other, but really a vote to listen and get some more facts out.

>>Ted Simons:
What are the rules on the senate floor, when a microphone is either cut intentionally or simply drops out? Is that it? Are you out of luck the minute you're not amplified anymore?

>>Jay Tibshraeny:
I don't think we have a specific rule on that particular thing, at least that I have seen so far. But again, we'll be looking at all this. That's probably something that'll possibly come up as we proceed and talk about this. How do you deal with an issue like that, and what's the proper way to do that?

>>Ted Simons:
Was there a vote ahead of time to limit debate?

>>Jay Tibshraeny:
Not that I recall.

>>Ted Simons:
Okay. Were you aware or had you heard of anything at all that suggested something like this might happen?

>>Jay Tibshraeny:
No.

>>Ted Simons:
Okay.

>>Jay Tibshraeny:
No, I wasn't.

>>Ted Simons:
You understand how there are those saying that Senators Harper and Verschoor were somehow in cahoots on this. Any thoughts?

>>Jay Tibshraeny:
I've heard that and I think as we proceed on--I think that's what the Senate Ethics Committee wants to look at. There's a lot of allegations on both sides of this issue going back and forth. We have to kind of ferret out fact from fiction. We don't want anybody's good name to be besmirched one way or the other. That'll be part of our job as we look at this and proceed forward. We hear a lot of things. You hear a lot of things down there, anyway.

>>Ted Simons:
We've heard from Senator Harper who initially apologized. Oops, I pressed the wrong button. We just heard that on the tape. He now says the debate was out of order, it was a stalling technique and these sorts of things. He's already talked about this. Your thoughts?

>>Jay Tibshraeny:
He's talked a little bit about it. The way the process worked is there was a formal complaint filed with my office last Monday, the 21st. Senator Harper did put together a response on Wednesday, the 23rd. He talks about what happened and that response. That's part of the record now that we'll be working from.

>>Ted Simons:
The word dilatory was the word I was looking for. Give us the rules on that, as far as filibusters and debate.

>>Jay Tibshraeny:
There are certain rules about what you can and can't do. I don't have the book in front of me. We'll look at that. But that was the response in his response, is that it was dilatory and he was stopping that.

>>Ted Simons:
Senator Cheuvront suggested or recommended a reprimand. Is that as far as something like this will likely go? Could it go even further?

>>Jay Tibshraeny:
I don't like to speculate on things, because that's assuming something's going to happen that may or may not happen. But yeah, in the complaint from Cheuvront, he's recommending, I believe, a reprimand for Senator Harper.

>>Ted Simons:
What happens to someone who is formally reprimanded? What are the results?

>>Jay Tibshraeny:
If you have that kind of recommendation, or any recommendation other than dismissal, that would require further action, it would go to the full body of the senate.

>>Ted Simons: And again, if the full body of the senate decides on a reprimand?

>>Jay Tibshraeny: They would not decide on that unless the committee recommended that.

>>Ted Simons: Indeed. I'm just trying to figure out, what kind of consequences are there for someone found guilty, for lack of a better word here, or at least responsible for cutting off the mic during a debate and is subsequently reprimanded.

>>Jay Tibshraeny:
I think it's a public reprimand by the body. Again this is kind of new territory. My understanding that has no legal consequences to whoever may be involved with that. But it is a strong statement from the body that those actions weren't appreciated and won't be tolerated.

>>Ted Simons:
There are some who are suggesting that turning off the mic was simply an honest mistake. Again, your thoughts?

>>Jay Tibshraeny:
My thoughts on that is that's something we're going to be talking about as we proceed further with this. We are going to have another hearing and we'll ferret through all this stuff. I'm sure we'll come up with a just and fair discussion and resolution of the issue.

>>Ted Simons:
The activities on that afternoon, just in general, regardless of who winds up with what regarding the ethics committee, but just as someone who is down there as a senator: your thoughts.

>>Jay Tibshraeny:
That week -- and I think I said this a few weeks ago when I was on this program on another issue -- that week was probably not the best way we wanted to see the senate represented week. But that sometimes happens in bodies like that. We'll deal with that.

>>Ted Simons:
What's next here? When is the next hearing? Where do we go from here?

>>Jay Tibshraeny:
By the end of the week we will have established the hearing date. There may be an interim meeting of the committee next week, just to set some procedures and guidelines that we can follow in that hearing. Right now, again, I have to sit down with the rules attorney and develop some guidelines for the committee. Then the committee would probably need to adopt those guidelines. It's kind of a moving target. We hope next week maybe the committee would meet to develop and work on the procedures and guidelines. Tentatively two weeks from now would be the time to have the hearing. We don't want to draw this out, we want to move as expeditiously as we can, working around senators' schedules. Some are heading out of town tomorrow for a conference. So we're going to work through that. We're already coordinating dates so we can move this very expeditiously.

>>Ted Simons:
Real quickly, you were the only Republican to go ahead and vote to proceed, along with two Democrats. The other two Republicans saying no. Are you getting a little bit of the business for this?

>>Jay Tibshraeny:
I'm sure, no matter how you vote on this, I would have gotten a little bit of a business. I've got to do my job as the senate ethics chairman. I want to shed a good light on the senate, and I think we will. I have to vote my conscience. It's no reflection on Senator Harper at this stage of the game.

>>Ted Simons:
Thanks for joining us, we appreciate it.

>>Jay Tibshraeny:
Thank you.

Fueling Trouble: T.I.M.E. Initiative

  |   Video
  • We begin a four-part series on the rising cost of fuel and transportation issues in the state. Tonight we discuss the Transportation and Infrastructure Moving Arizona's Economy (T.I.M.E.) initiative. Proponent Martin Schultz, government affairs vice president for Pinnacle West Capital Corporation, debates opponent Steve Voeller of the Arizona Free Enterprise Club.
Guests:
  • Marty Shultz - Treasurer, Time Initiative Campaign
  • Steve Voeller - Chairman, Transportation Vision 21
Category: Business/Economy   |   Keywords: energy,

View Transcript
>>Ted Simons:
We begin a new four-part series this evening, "Fueling Trouble," that will look at the impact of the rising cost of fuel and transportation issues in the state. With its far-flung suburbs and somewhat limited mass transit, Phoenix is mostly a car-driven metropolitan area. This fall voters will decide whether to fund more freeways, trains, and buses. We'll hear a debate on that time initiative in a few minutes. Time is an acronym for transportation and infrastructure moving Arizona's economy. First, though, a milestone was reached earlier this month with the completion of the 202 between Power Road and University Drive. That was part of proposition 300, approved by voters more than 20 years ago.

>>Larry Lemmons:
Despite the price of gas, drivers in the East Valley have something to cheer about. The Red Mountain Freeway is now connected between Power Road and University Drive in East Mesa.

>>Doug Nintzel:
It's just such a huge milestone to complete the regional freeway system. So beyond opening the Loop 101, the Red Mountain Freeway, and having that finished, it really means we've completed 137 miles of regional freeways, taking us back to the mid-1980s. So much has been done over the course of the past two decades, and in some ways folks can take it for granted, especially those who haven't even been here that long. But it's been quite the program to put these freeways all together, put them in place, and now allow folks to get from point a to point b, from one end of the Valley to the other. And to be able to do it in a safe and what we hope is a reasonably fast amount of time.

>>Larry Lemmons:
This particular stretch of the freeway, almost five miles, cost almost $200 million. It was the most complicated part of the road because flood control barriers had to be built and a lot of dirt had to be moved. All in all, the freeway ended up costing nearly $2.5 billion. It was the last link of freeway funded by Proposition 300 that ear-marked a half-cent sales tax toward the project in 1985.

>>Doug Nintzel:
You know there was a lot of vision that was needed. It was a struggle to get the Valley to decide, we do need the additional freeways. We've had the backbone freeways like I-10 and I-17. But to move forward with a freeway program took a long time and some vision. Voters said yes in 1985, and from there we were off and rolling to where, yes, there were struggles along the way, but now we can look back and say, 137 miles of regional freeways, including all of the Loop 101, the Loop 202 through the East Valley, that makes a huge difference.

>>Larry Lemmons:
The Arizona Department of Transportation has begun work on the projects for proposition 400. That was approved by voters in 2004. Regional projects are funded through 2025 by a Maricopa County half-cent sales tax.

>>Doug Nintzel:
We're already underway with Proposition 400. We are building projects like the I-17 widening in the North Valley, the I-10 widening in the West Valley, projects that are going to enhance the existing freeways, while also doing some of the study work right now to look ahead to corridors for the future, whether it's a parallel freeway to I-10 in the West Valley, and also the Williams Gateway Freeway in the Southeast Valley. And also looking ahead to actually building Loop 303 as a full access-controlled freeway, where you have the three lanes in each direction. Again, we're looking ahead to trying to manage within the growth that's still going to occur here in the Valley.

>>Ted Simons:

The Time Initiative will go before voters this November. It'll increase the state sales tax one cent to 6.6\%. $42 billion will be collected over 30 years to pay for freeways, mass transit, and conservation projects. Earlier this month on "Horizon" Governor Janet Napolitano expressed her support for the Time Initiative.

>>Ted Simmons:
I've asked you this before, but again, how do you convince people in these troubled times that this is the time for that increase?

>>Janet Napolitano:
Well, you know, what you say first of all, the tax part doesn't even begin until 2010, it's suspended. But the initiative itself allows us to build and buildig creates jobs. We build railways and highways and bridges and mass transit and rail from southern Arizona to northern Arizona. What a great way for all of us collectively to say we are continuing to invest in the state of Arizona. If that doesn't pass, we will run out of transportation money within the next 18 to 24 months. We will only be able to repair what we have. And talk about something that will cost us jobs and cost us economic growth that is not a future we want.

>>Ted Simons:
The Sierra Club is not on board with the Time Initiative. Here's what Sandy Bahr, director of the Grand Canyon Chapter, had to say.

>>Sandy Bahr:
Our biggest concern about the Time Initiative is that it really takes us down the same road as far as transportation goes. Most of the funding will go toward roads, 55\% of this one-cent sales tax goes to roads. A limited amount of money to transit, 18\%. And a very small amount also to wildlife. We are so far behind when it comes to developing a mass transit system, including with rail and an appropriate number of buses. So they go in a frequency that makes it usable for people at all the times of the year. We need to change the direction of transportation in this state. This is more of the same old, same old. With rising gas prices, although I know there's a little dip, we're not going to see cheap gasoline. People need alternatives. The problem right now is they don't have real alternatives. Roads, obviously we need roads and we need them to be maintained. And a measure that focused on maintaining what we have, and then heavily investing in transit, as well as providing for the wildlife connections and corridors, that's something we could support. But the Time Initiative didn't give us that. It goes through 30 years. It's a whole cent that's a lot of sales tax and a long time for it to go. We think the plan is an old school plan, and we need to be looking at the future.

>>Ted Simons:
Joining me now to talk about the pros of the initiative, the Treasurer of the Time Initiative Campaign, and also the Chairman of Transportation Vision 21, Marty Shultz. Opposing the initiative, Steve Voeller, the president of the Arizona Free Enterprise Club. Thank You both for joining us on "Horizon."

>>Marty Shultz:
Glad to be here.

>>Steve Voeller:
Glad to be here.

>>Ted Simons:
Alright Marty, a penny increase on sales, a 17.8\% increase, call it what you will-why this, why now?

>>Marty Shultz:
Why now? Because as the governor indicated our analysis showed within 18 months we will be in a crisis mode, as far as the ability to continue construct transportation facilities. That's freeways, highways, transit. Now is the time to make the decision as to how to invest. We went to 28 separate approaches to funding the transportation system, and the analysis suggested that the appropriate funds would be the penny adjustment on the sales tax.

>>Ted Simons:
Okay. Why is that a bad idea?

>>Steve Voeller:
Well, the notion that we need to fund transportation at $42 billion over 30 years, we definitely need more transportation. But we have to remember there's been a billion two every year in the cycle. This initiative could be re-titled the leap of faith initiative. This requires a 17.8\% rate increase on the state sales tax for 30 years. But it only covers 55\% of highways and freeways where most people want to take their car in Arizona and Phoenix. A lot of that money is spent on things like not only mass transit, but nature conservancy groups, and other things that don't move people. Bike paths, pedestrian walkways, open space. It's more than just a transportation issue.

>>Ted Simons:
If there was a tax of this length and cost, and all of it went to freeways, every single penny, would you be opposed?

>> Steve Voeller:
I don't know it's not the question in front of us. I haven't really looked at that question. But this is a tax increase in a very, very shaky economic time. The state sales tax collections and income tax collections have been off. A new tax increase, a billion four a year, is going to put the brakes on the economy.

>>Ted Simons:
Marty, can a weak economy handle this burden?

>>Marty Shultz:
We believe so. First of all, the effective date of the tax is 2010. That was designed because of the estimate of how the economy is going to come back and when it's going to come back. Secondly, with regard to Steve's comments about transportation, I have been heavily involved with transportation so I will tell you this. People in Arizona definitely want and expect to improve the highways and freeways. And in your pieces you've seen a lot of discussion about the new roads that have happened. This is statewide. This is covering the entire state of Arizona. People also expect an effective transit system, an effective bus system. Frankly, between Phoenix and Tucson we have growth that is now going to need a full-scale transportation system. So this is a multi-year, multi-decade system. You asked Steve the question about would he support just freeways alone. Well, whether he would or wouldn't, freeways alone are a bad idea. With $4 gas and people rushing to buses - and I believe people will rush to the light rail -- that really would be a big mistake. I know it's hard for some to believe, but this state has 6.5 billion now, and will have in the neighborhood of 12 million by 2040. Are we going to plan for the future and work our way through this congestion, or just say no, as sometimes my friends on the right do, and leave it to chance? I haven't heard anything about Steve's plan. Maybe you can ask him about his plan.

>>Ted Simons:
That's exactly what I do want to ask. You said something needs to be done. What? What works?

>>Steve Voeller:
Well, we definitely need more transportation infrastructure. There is a five-year rolling plan that raises about a billion two a year. This is a billion four, that's a billion two. We need to make sure the money is spent wisely, not on things that don't move people. I want to get something that Marty did raise which was people are demanding light rail? How do we know? There was one election that was passed four years ago. And during that election the proponents said we're not going to expand light rail until we have a ridership audit. Is it cost-effective? Is it moving people? And here we are only four years later without one person riding light rail, getting ready to tax, to expand it.

>>Marty Shultz:
I'm really sorry that Steve is combining two things. He was describing what's going on in Maricopa County. This is a statewide initiative. This has to do with Maricopa County, but also had to do with the balance of the state. Because Arizona is now urbanizing. It's not like the good old days where cities were separated. But Arizona is actually urbanizing. The population growth projections, even in a soft economy, are still rather impressive, making Arizona the second-fastest growing state in the country, even with the downturn in the economy. For Steve and his colleagues to say that somehow we're going to do this all with freeways, when we have density in this urban area of 10,000 people per square mile? Let's grow up, the state's growing up.

>>Steve Voeller:
Let's forget the rail and mass transit component, let's go to the fact we're raising, they picked a penny on the dollar 17.8\% rate increase on the sales tax to go to things like open space, bike paths, things that don't move people. Enhancements, beautification, campsites. This is not just focused on transportation. It could be done a lot more effectively.

>>Ted Simons:
Why were those things included A. and B. Why whatever happened to the concept of impact fees on developers? We know why it's gone, in terms of a deal the governor made; we got the machinations out of the way. But does that make sense?

>>Marty Shultz:
I really appreciate Steve delineating each of these important features of this initiative. Growth in Arizona is not just building new freeways and putting the same old subdivisions. Growth strategy and growth policy has to do with open space, how we treat the scenic vistas. And by the way, bikeable and walkable communities, and frankly quality of life, woven into a complete transportation system that is multimodal is where we are going, whether Steve and his colleagues agree to that or not. I'm really encouraged that he knows the details. When he really understands it, he's going to understand how important it is to support it.

>>Ted Simons:
Make us understand why impact fees are not in there.

>>Marty Shultz:
Impact fees are already part of the funding of transportation. They are imposed by cities.

>>Ted Simons:
I asked you the question whether or not you would support this if it were freeways and only freeways because it leads to my next question--Do you support any tax for transportation?

>>Steve Voeller:
Sure, we already pay taxes for transportation.

>>Ted Simons:
I'm talking about your group. Would you support a further increase in taxes, a new tax, anything along those lines for transportation?

>>Steve Voeller:
We need to look at taxes as it relates to the overall economy too. In 2006 the economy was chugging along and the state revenues were setting records. We're now in a recession, a penny tax increase, and a billion four a year, 17.8\% on the rate; it's going to be very harmful to the economy. Let me also say, that is a 30-year tax, voter protected. You can't make any changes in the different pots of money that are set aside, because of the voter protection act we have here. If you want to make a change from light rail or to roads or some other mode of transportation, you can't do it.

>> Steve needs to look closely at the details. In fact, while the major pots of money do not change, the local decisions by the local city governments, local county governments, by the state board of transportation are based on, A. the critical needs projects which will be built; and then additional projects going out into the third decade, if you will. Looking forward, as opposed to saying no, is really what this is all about. And it is a good solid growth policy.

>>Steve Voeller:
I do give them credit for the public partnership with toll roads. That's a very good way to look at moving people.

>>Ted Simons:
And that's a good way to stop this debate. My goodness, agreeing. I don't know what to do. Thank you both for joining us.

Content Partner: