Capitol Update

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Arizona Capitol Times‘ Jim Small reports on the latest from the state capitol.

TED SIMONS: Good evening and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Governor Jan Brewer today line item vetoed a number of provisions of a budget she received from the legislature early this morning. She also called lawmakers back into special session to find a way to pay for some of the cuts she restored to the budget. That could be tricky as some lawmakers are planning on being out of town soon. Here now to give us an update is Jim Small of the Arizona Capitol Times. Jim, get any sleep last night at all?
JIM SMALL: I got a little bit this afternoon.
TED SIMONS: It's a long night. She line item vetoes, calls a special session, how much of a surprise is this?
JIM SMALL: Well, it was one of the options that I think people were speculating about. As yesterday drug into last night as it drug into this morning. You know, there were a number of -- everyone was trying to figure out what was going to happen, because republican lawmakers were acting on this negotiated set of budget bills absent the main provision that the governor Brewer was proposing was pushing for, which was a referral to the November ballot for a sales tax increase, without the speculation range the from she's going to veto everything and force us to shut down state government to she's going to cave completely and just sign it and move on and address the tax issue later. You know, she ended up somewhere in the middle. She avoided a government shutdown. She let, you know, let the underlying bills go into law. And she line item vetoed a number of spending cuts that were supported by republican lawmakers and she also really vetoed a lot of the policy bills that went along with it, that established, you know, how spending cuts were supposed to be implemented or different -- a number of different policy things, she outright vetoed them and said basically this is a budget, that is -- it's not a good budget. It doesn't include any additional revenue. It makes cuts that are way too deep and without a tax increase proposal on it we're going to have to start over.
TED SIMONS: She specifically targeted education here as far as vetoes and that's a pretty bold move, isn't it? That's a lot of money.
JIM SMALL: It is, and, you know, republican -- the budget that was passed by republicans included about $220 million in cuts to K-12 education plus another $40 million to the university system. In her line item vetoes she eliminated those cuts and the way it was structured she eliminated all of -- at first reading that she eliminated all the funding for education and universities possibly as well, so you know, that may be one way to try to actually prod the legislature into acting on this quickly, they are statutorily required to make a schools payment I believe later this month in a couple weeks, you know, so you've got a lot of things going on. She's bound and determined obviously to get the tax increase on the ballot. The thing she's been pushing for all year long, and these, you know this just demonstrates I think the length she's willing to go to for it.
TED SIMONS: The verbiage in her little, fatally flawed budget, devastating cuts to education, public safety, health services, is any of this going to fly any higher than it did for the past six months?
JIM SMALL: Well, I'm not really sure exactly what's going to happen, I mean, lawmakers are -- the republican lawmakers I talked to today are not happy with the way this worked. They feel they worked hard, in good faith, to negotiate a budget package and to try to get the entire package out. They feel that, look, we tried our hardest. We went to every member of our caucus and tried to twist every arm possible, you know, take everyone to the woodshed that we could, and we could not get the votes for it. You know, I spoke with house speaker Kirk Adams today. He said the way the deal worked was we would go and get every one of our members possible and we would come and then it was the governor's responsibility after that to go pick up any straggling republicans or go grab the democratic votes necessary for this tax referral. His comment to me was they failed in that goal and they didn't do it and so this is where we're at. You know, we're going to go ahead and pass the budget. We're not going to shut down government. But at the same time we can't be held responsible for this thing not getting support because the support just doesn't exist.
TED SIMONS: So she failed by not picking up the stragglers but they didn't fail as leaders to get her what she needed as far as the compromise is concerned.
JIM SMALL: Well, and I think this is, you know, where politics comes into it. Both sides are certainly going to have their reasons for believing why what they did was right and why the other side misbehaved.
TED SIMONS: Well, and that kind of brings us to the question, you know, folks are leaving town, they got vacations, weren't expected to be here come Monday, can they muster a quorum?
JIM SMALL: Don't know. I think we'll have to wait until Monday. Spoke with Senator Jonathan Payton from Tucson, he's in the Army Reserves. He was scheduled next week to go be on active duty, so he's supposed to be doing military training exercises starting Monday and for the entire week, he's not really sure if he's going to be able to show up down here at the capitol Monday, if he's going to be the serving the federal government.
TED SIMONS: If certain folks are missing and certain folks aren't missing, could that seriously change the dynamic of what gets negotiated and what gets played down there?
JIM SMALL: It could. I think really the biggest impact it's going to have is whether they even have frankly enough members to convene a special session. They have to have a quorum, they have to have16 in the senate, 31 in the house. A lot of people out of town or who frankly aren't willing to come back for this, say what's the point? They could have a difficult time convening a quorum and even if they do get a quorum, republican leadership is obviously not happy with the way this worked out. They've been fighting governor Brewer on this budget thing, you know, all year long, so if -- without a deal in place it's always possible they could come in, get the 31 and 16 people they need just to open up the floor, take attendance, do their pledge of allegiance, prayer, and sine die the special session without doing any action. It's happened before. It's still kind of up in the air to see what's going to happen. This whole thing is still really fresh and frankly most of the people I called today weren't available because they were at home sleeping because they were at the capitol until the wee hours of the morning.
TED SIMONS: I think some viewers would be interested, I know I certainly would, the deadline was midnight last night, and I know because I was following it, they were still going on much past midnight. They were going on until 7:30 this morning. Why wasn't the midnight deadline a deadline?
JIM SMALL: The house actually approved the bills at about 11:45 last night. They voted on them, sent them over to the senate so the senate could handle them. It took a couple hours before the senate got to them. There was the way they did it was the senate had their own bills, house had their own bills and they substituted one for the other. They had to make sure they were identical. The rules say you can only do the substitution if the bills are perfectly identical so they had to check and make sure there were no discrepancies. Senate finished at about 3:00, quarter to 3:00 in the morning. They got the budget bills done and essentially they got sent to the governor I think the first -- the senate sent the original budget bills from earlier in June to the governor at about 6:30 and the house followed shortly thereafter and sent them up and it took a few more hours before the governor announced what she was going to do.
TED SIMONS: We heard reports the senate doors were actually locked to keep people from the governor's office from delivering vetoes. Is that true?
JIM SMALL: Yeah. Yeah. They were certainly locked. I was on the outside so I don't know what was being said inside as to why exactly they were locked but yeah, that's what reportedly that was the reason why, because they were still in session. In fact I was standing in the house lobby looking across at people trying to open up the doors in to the senate to get in and eventually security came and let people in. But you know, they were still doing floor work and wanted to not have to I think deal, you know, maybe read those vetoes and actually deal with it while everyone was there. It was a tense situation, so it's probably a preventive measure.
TED SIMONS: It sounds awfully tense. Last question, with that in mind, this doesn't seem to bode all that well for next year, is there concern that this just could be an absolute chaotic mess even more so next go round?
JIM SMALL: You know, if they could come up with a way to have a more chaotic mess of a budget process than they had this year, that will be a feat unto itself I think. I mean, this year was plagued from the beginning. You had the federal stimulus dollars coming in, not knowing how those would be implemented, change in governors, you know, inability to get people on the same page, I imagine this problem between governor Brewer and the legislative republican leaders is definitely going to be a big obstacle for them to overcome next year.
TED SIMONS: Well Jim, great work. Thank you so much for showing up today after a very long night, always appreciate having you on.
JIM SMALL: Thanks for having me.

Jim Small:Arizona Capitol Times;

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