Legislative Priorities – Democrats

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Leaders from the Arizona House and Senate’s Democratic caucuses react to the Governor’s State of the State Address and outline their legislative priorities.

Ted Simons: Tonight on "Horizon," Democratic leaders from the State House and Senate talk about their legislative goals. And we'll see what's being done to make Super Bowl XLII a super safe experience. Those stories are next on "Horizon."

Announcer: "Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the friends of eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

Ted Simons: Good evening. I'm Ted Simons. Welcome to "Horizon." Governor Janet Napolitano has appointed former superintendent of schools Jaime Molera to the State Board of Education. Molera served as Arizona's schools chief from 2001 to 2003. If confirmed, Molera would serve on the board of education until 2011.

Ted Simons: Earlier this week the governor told state lawmakers what she hopes they'll accomplish this year. Last night on "Horizon," Republican leaders from the House and Senate told us what they thought about the governor's ideas. Tonight we'll hear from leaders of the House and Senate Democrats. But first, David Majure shares what a veteran lawmaker had to say about the governor's speech.

Gov. Napalitano: My message to you today is clear. The state of Arizona is strong.

David Majure: During the state of the state address, Governor Napolitano urged members of the house and senate to invest in Arizona's future in the face of tough economic times.

Gov. Napalitano: imagine expanded freeways, local transit, plus a Tucson and phoenix line and you will see how we need to make this happen.

David Majure: She suggested how the deal with the billion

Janet Napalitano: Past bills allowing us to finance the construction of new schools and to use part of the rainy day savings account that we have built up precisely for this purpose.

Pete Rios: We're facing a billion dollar deficit for this current fiscal year. We're facing a huge deficit for next year in '09 as well.

David Majure: Democratic lawmaker representative Pete Rios liked what the governor had to say but he's not sure lawmakers can meet some of her requests.

Pete Rios: The Governor has a plan to balance the budget so we don't cause a lot of pain, but part of her program is to go into debt financing for school construction I don't think that my friends on the other side of the aisle are going to support that particular proposal. I see a lot of additional cuts coming down on agencies and departments that are going to be very painful.

David Majure: and Rios said democrats can't count on support from moderate republicans like last year.

Pete Rios: it's an election year. I think a lot of those folks that were kind of were helpful, may not be as helpful this year, because they have to face republican primaries. I think there is that factor that plays. We all know that this is the art of compromising. Somewhere in the middle, we shall meet.

Ted Simons: Joining me to talk about the governor's speech and the new legislative session is senate minority leader Marsha Arzberger and Phil Lopes. Let's start with what we just heard. Let's talk about the dynamics and how compromise might be compromised.

Marsha Arzberger: Let me say it a little different way. I think all legislators are very much aware that we have a difficult problem this year because revenues plummeted in may and it was unexpected. It was a surprise. We had a situation to deal with that's going to be very difficult, but i do think they realize that we are going to have to find ways to balance our budget.

Ted Simons: Representative, is the situation so bad down there that it might be helpful in terms of reaching compromises on things?

Phil Lopes: As incredible as that may seem, I've been told by others that it's in fact easier to make these sorts of decisions, come to these compromises that the senator mentioned in years when there is fewer resources than more resources. I'm optimistic about that. The other thing that I'm optimistic about is today we finally started the process with all four caucuses together, we're going to continue that tomorrow to solve this problem. I'm optimistic about it.

Ted Simons: Yet, we had this joint House and Senate briefing on economy, I believe, yesterday, and it sounds from a distance as if some of these numbers are pretty sobering. What did you get from the briefing, Senator?

Marsha Arzberger: I was happy to see some forecasts that I had not seen from the economists in earlier briefings, because they had '08, and they had projected '09, but this is the first time I've seen '10, and '11.they show '08 of where we are, economy down, '09 stable, and '10 economy beginning to climb. That proves it is a cycle and it does make it easier to deal with.

Ted Simons: Last night we had Republican leadership on. I want to get to some of the concerns they had regarding the state of the state address. They're saying we can't borrow our way out of this particular situation. Respond, please.

Marsha Arzberger: I'd be happy to negotiate, sitting down and talking from the position that you begin, and they're beginning at that position. I think that it will be impossible to balance this budget with only cuts. Two-thirds of the budget is controlled by initiatives and by formula methods. I think that we're not going to reduce state government completely. We can't do that. We're seven months into the fiscal year. We will have to trim back. Yes, we will. We will have to do capital financing and use the rainy day fund and other accounting mechanisms in order to get this job done.

Ted Simons: Representative, if we use those mechanisms, the argument goes we can handle it now -- in the years ahead -- because of the borrowing which --

Phil Lopes: we have to manage this situation we've got here. Nobody is suggesting for example that we take all of the money out of the rainy day fund this year. We've got to look and think about '09, but my perspective on this is as the senator says, we need to make the cuts that need to be made now, and next year, for next year's budget, we'll make those cuts as we need to. I don't think we need to look at -- I think this business about permanent and temporary cuts is something that is not useful in having this discussion. What's far more useful is having the principals in the room and saying this is the situation, and this is where we need to get to, and these are our options to get there, and make those decisions as best we can. I think the process is there to make that happen.

Ted Simons: Anything off the table?

Phil Lopes: I don't think anything is off the table at this point. I don't think anything is off the table. Perhaps the only thing that is off the table is any tax increases. I don't hear anybody talking about that.

Ted Simons: Senator, anything off the table as far as you can see?

Marsha Arzberger: I just believe we should approach it with looking at all options, and i believe the other side should approach it looking at all options also.

Ted Simons: All right. Speaking of the other side, as I mentioned, we had folks in yesterday, the Speaker and the Senate majority leader, and I want to get to some of the things they had concerns with. We will start with English language learning, and the governor taking it out of the courts and back into the classroom. They called that unfair. Even if you take it out of the courts, the state spent between $150 and $180,000.in general, well where does this have to go in order for the state to get out of this mess?

Marsha Arzberger: ELL is about how should we educate all of the children in our state so they will be good productive citizens. That's what it is all about. The problem is we have a lot of immigrants from a lot of countries come into the state and they don't speak English. It has to be part of our school system to educate those children. I believe we already have some money available, but whenever that system, whenever the decision is made how that's going to be done, we will have to fund it as necessary.

Ted Simons: Is this idea logical, representative, where Republicans are saying we want the solution first and then pay for it, whereas right now, the governor is saying, we've got this money, find a solution.

Phil Lopes" I think it's disingenuous to say we need to find a solution before we fund it. The other side, in my judgment, has never been forthcoming in trying to solve this problem. I think what they've tried to do is figure out ways to avoid it, appealing the court decisions, that sort of thing, instead of saying, we've got a problem here that needs to be solved. These young people, 160,000 of them, need additional funding in order to learn English. We just need to do that. Now, it may be that in short years we only fund a portion of that, but what the court wants to see is that we're on the road to some sort of solution, and we've -- we're not there. We're not there. We keep looking for ways to avoid it instead of facing up to it.

Ted Simons: When they say let the legislature handle what the legislature is supposed to handle, you're saying --

Phil Lopes: We ought to take our responsibility and handle it, yes, that's what I'm saying.

Ted Simons: Another idea that the govenor's free tuition idea. That sounds like a lot of money in this particular time.

Marsha Arzberger: There are all kinds of estimates of money at the legislature. That was a program that Bill Clinton put into effect in Arkansas prior to the time he became president. I think I was working in the education field when I ran across that, and it was a successful program in Arkansas. I don't know how they funded it. I doubt they're as wealthy a state as we are. Someone ought to take a look at that.

Ted Simons: Can the argument be made that there are ways of helping with tuition for students, some are already in place, for students who get a B+ average, not sure about that, but as far as students doing well in high school, aren't these measures already in place?

Marsha Arzberger : We're talking about financial aid, and the state has not met its statutory responsibility for financial aid at our universities.

Phil Lopes: This is different than financial aid, and it is working in Indiana. What you're doing here, you're saying to an eighth grader who may or may not be thinking about college, whose parents may or may not be encouraging him or her, you're saying to that person, if you do these two things, keep up your grades and you stay out of trouble, you will not have any financial barriers to going to college. Now that's the kind of place I want to live in that says to young people that sort of thing. I'm encouraged by it.

Ted Simons: Yet there is criticism to the idea regarding keeping up the B average. Are the kid has a chance.

Phil Lopes: I think that sort of thing exists in the situation today. All kinds of pressure for good grades. I'm not concerned that this is -- this program is going to have any special pressures in that regard. I'm not concerned about that. I think teachers are basically honest about these things and that doesn't happen in any significant kind of way.

Ted Simons: Four year tuition contract. Let's make sure once a student starts at a four year university, the tuition stays the same throughout. Republican leadership said the situation was already in place.

Marsha Arzberger: I was under the understanding that ASU has that not exactly contract but that policy with freshmen, but I'm not positive about the other two universities, but I think part of it is in place.

>> It sounds like no one is taking advantage of it.

Phil Lopes: I don't know whether it is in place or anyone is taking advantage of it, but it is meant to address a problem and that is the increase in tuition. It has gone up like 70 percent in the last four or five years. And to the extent that that is driving kids away from college, we have to do something about that. If this program, maybe at ASU, it may be there already, but we need to make it more broadly known and more broadly used, because we need to figure out ways to get more kids to get bachelor's degrees. That was another goal in the state of the state.

Ted Simons: Another goal was the employer sanctions law and how it needs to be fixed, dealt with, tinkered with, whatever the phrase may be. She wants to see a definition. She wants to see things defined, whether a company is hurt throughout the entire chain. The Republican leadership is concerned about the infrastructure nature of what the governor talked about, those folks, hospital, nursing homes, whatever is decided as a vital infrastructure, now all of the sudden exempt from the law.

Marsha Arzberger: When that legislation was going through the legislature it was obvious there were problems in the drafting that needed fixing. I could see there were obvious things that needed to be fixed, to clarify, protect employers, and I have cosigned some of those fixes in bills.

Ted Simons: But would there be a concern though with something involving what vital infrastructure is? Everybody is saying I should be under this protection as well.

Phil Lopes: the definition will be made in the same way we make decisions at the legislature. I am not concerned about drawing that too broadly. I'm not concerned about that. As far as the fixes go, i think the fixes that were -- that were suggested by the speakers, special committee, are not that different than the suggestion for fixes that the governor made in her first letter after she signed it and the fixes that she suggested in her state of the state. People are starting to -- i think there is starting to be some agreement about what those fixes need to be. We just need to make them.

Ted Simons: Are you seeing that agreement as well?

Marsha Arzberger: Well, I did see it at the end of the session even when the bill had not yet completed its process. The discussion was these things need to be fixed and they're the same things.

Ted Simons: Senator, you as well are looking at a guest worker program for Arizona and trying to get -- is it a resolution you want to send to Congress? How does this work?

Marsha Arzberger: It is a little more than that. You must understand all over the country states are becoming tired of waiting for the federal government to do immigration reform. A number of different things that states are trying. Arizona tried the employer -- has passed the employer sanctions law which addresses one part of illegal immigration. The problem is Arizona needs legal workers, legal immigrant workers. We do have a shortage of labor base. So it will be the -- there will be a bill that will structure an Arizona guest worker program, a resolution that goes to congress to authorize this limited guest worker program only for Arizona.

Ted Simons: difficult do you think that's going to be?

Marsha Arzberger: I think it might be fun.

Ted Simons: Fun and difficult or just fun. Yeah. Representative, was there anything that you would have liked to have heard the governor say during the state of the state address that she didn't mention?

Marsha Arzberger: I think people don't -- don't understand what the state of the state is. The purpose of the State of the State is for the chief executive of the state to draw a picture, to present a vision of what -- of where she thinks the state ought to go and be. It is supposed to be a vision. We have the responsibility, along with her to fill in the blanks. This Friday comes the budget piece. It is going to tell us how they are going to be financed. No, I'm not at all -- there wasn't anything that I felt was missing from the talk.

Ted Simons: Was there anything you would have liked to have heard from the governor that she didn't say?

Marsha Arzberger : We're focused on this budget problem, and it's difficult and it's not pleasant. I was delighted to see her focus a little on the future. She only mentioned once about water and growth. That is an issue that i could have seen expanded or we will talk about at a later time, but that's one of the things for the future of Arizona that needs to be discussed.

Ted Simons: And, again, the State of the State address as far as you see it is more of an overview as opposed to specifics?

Marsha Arzberger: It's not only that. It's our leader showing a path toward the future. I have to say for one I was tired of thinking about the budget and I was glad to start thinking about health care, transportation, education, and the economic future of Arizona. It turned us to thinking in other directions and we need to do a little of that.

Ted Simons: Representative, quickly, are you confident now some compromise can be made in the upcoming session?

Phil Lopes: At this juncture, I am very confident based on the meetings that we had today and the agreement to continue the meetings starting tomorrow. I'm confident that we can fix this thing.

Ted Simons: Thank you both for joining us.

Ted Simons: The super bowl is weeks away, organizers have been working for months to make it a success. Police and fire departments across the metro Phoenix area are preparing for any emergency. Larry Lemmons shows us security measures being taken to be sure the event is safe and enjoyable.

Larry Lemmons: The Glendale fire department is demonstrating the mobility they'll have during super bowl events. These are two of the six segues they require.

Thomas Shannon: When Westgate and the stadium were built, we quickly realized that if we just relied on walking teams we're going to wear our people out. So we invested in what were called segues. And this gives our folks the same accessibility. You've seen them move around the crowd. They can literally zip on over to an area and render care, but yet they're not beating their feet up. And these folks will walk miles and miles and miles during an event. And with the Segues, it keeps them fresh. And as you can see, they're very versatile. They can really scoot through the crowds. They can bear some weight so we use them not only for E.M.S sources but all hazard teams, continually air monitoring. They do that in a very, very free-flowing way.

Larry Lemmons: September 11th happened since the last time the super bowl was played in the valley. Although Glendale will host the game and many of the events, the entire phoenix metropolitan area will be involved in security.

Mike Orose: Well, obviously since 9/11 the security level has been escalated quite a bit. I was also involved in the planning for the 1996 super bowl that we had here in Arizona. And this 2008 super bowl is significantly different. I mean, the planning process, the security levels, everything is way heightened over what it used to be. Everybody that's going to work at a venue, a NFL venue during the Super Bowl week, has to have credentials. And there's two types of credentials. There's credentials we issue to anybody that's going to work there, and then special credentials for the actual stadium on game day. But yes, all employees, depending how long you've been working at that venue or location still need to fill out paperwork and get background checks.

Larry Lemmons: We followed Glendale fire assistant chief Thomas Shannon to the scene of an injury.

Thomas Shannon: Standard 9-1-1 call for service really don't work in this atmosphere. So what we designed is a process for customers to call 9-1-1, to have their services routed to this location where we'll have incident command locations not only here at Westgate but at the stadium. We will receive those on-call resources to that location.

EMS worker: I would like to ask you how it happened? [indiscernible]

Thomas Shannon: and it might come in the form of a walking team. Two people walking together with equipment who make contact with the customer and help them out. Or it could be the segue teams or bicycle teams or the ambulance. They'll make contact with the location. Depending upon the care needs they'll either treat them there and treat them release or move them to a more centralized location where we can better package them and transport them to a hospital. What's different also about the Super Bowl is we will have our area physicians on-site not only here at Westgate but also in the stadium to provide direct medical control. Whereas normally they're just a phone call away and we operate under that protocol. They're going to participate in the patient treatment. Think of it this way: people spend a lot of money to come to the Super Bowl. They want to stay at the Super Bowl. So we're going to do as much as we can to provide them with the resources that will keep them here. So if they injure themselves and don't require immediate care at a hospital, we're going to do things that can allow them to consider staying and enjoying their experience while perhaps maybe with their arm in a splint. So it's very customer-oriented.

Larry Lemmons: Super Bowls now receive a special event assessment rating Local 1. County federal state and tribal agencies are involved in it.

Mike Rosen: One of the biggest things he we'll do different than they did in Miami, they had a lead law enforcement agency. Miami-Dade was the lead law enforcement agency. Here there is no lead law enforcement agency. Each agency is responsible for their jurisdiction. But what doing here different is there they had different command posts. They had law enforcement one, the federal government in a different one and fire in a different one. In Arizona, in our unified command that we're going to have during Super Bowl week, we're going to have city, county, state and federal assets and decision makers all in the same room. So you don't normally see that. That is really unique for Arizona.

Larry Lemmons: Fire and police departments all over the valley will be in a heightened state of awareness during Super Bowl week. There will be 16 NFL-related events, 11 Scottsdale events, seven more in various cities, and hundreds of private parties.

Thomas Shannon: Glendale has what we'll call an area command. But that area command is connected to a Valley-wide regional process. And that regional process is essentially a think tank that continually monitors everything that's going on. Because while we have the world stage going on here, there's an equally large event going on in Scottsdale in the F.B.R. so you have essentially similarly sized events. Maybe not similarly viewed but similarly sized events in the East and West Valley which require enormous public safety resources.

Larry Lemmons: Specifics details on security are secret. But manpower won't be an issue.

Mike Rosen: Without telling you specific amounts of manpower and what kind of resources we're going to have where, all the major agencies will include Phoenix Department of Public Safety. Glendale has canceled all days off and no vacations during the week of the Super Bowl. So we would be able to utilize all of our resources to make sure all the venues are properly staffed.

>> We will have a lot of security personnel out and about during that week.

Larry Lemmons: Despite the high security, the aim of all involved entities is to be as invisible as possible and to allow those enjoying festivities in the Valley to be safe and secure during this super occasion.

Ted Simons: That's it for now. Thanks for joining us. You have a great evening.

Marsha Arzberger:Senate Minority Leader;Phil Lopes:State Representative;

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