The state is still struggling to play its bills. Governor Jan Brewer will discuss the latest on the budget and more in an interview with Horizon’s Ted Simons.
Ted Simons: Good evening. Welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Four months into the fiscal year Arizona is already facing a 1.5 billion dollar deficit. Next year that number could nearly double. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is working on ways to close the budget gap, and she joins me in the protocol room on the 9th floor of the executive tower. Good to see you again. Thanks for joining us.
Jan Brewer: It's a pleasure to be here. Thank you, Ted.
Ted Simons: You have made a change as far as your staff is concern. Big change.
Jan Brewer: We did. This morning we announced that we are going to change chief of staff. My chief of staff, Kevin Tine, is going to be taking a leave of absence and work as an advisor for governors in the western states. In place of him I'm going to move up my very valued Eileen Cline, who is deputy director of finance for the executive branch of government. She will be chief of staff and move us forward through the next session.
Ted Simons: From a distance we see a shakeup as far as staff is concerned, we wonder what's going on here. Is the stalemate with the budget part of the reason that this change is taking place?
Jan Brewer: No, I don't think so. I think that we just knew we needed to make some changes. This is a great opportunity certainly for Kevin. He's been a loyal confidante for almost 13 years and he's looking forward to it. It's going to be probably about a three-week transition, get him out there doing what he had done in the past. Work with the governors in the western states. Move forward. Of course Eileen comes with such an extremely professional background, you know, having worked for ten different speakers and between Florida -- four different speakers throughout ten years, both in Florida and here, then working in the public sector with united health care's coo, working for the chamber of commerce. She is just so very qualified. Just is an immense asset to my staff. I'm looking forward to it.
Ted Simons: Last question. There are some that thought perhaps Jan Brewer wasn't allowed to be Jan Brewer because of her staff, some on her staff weren't allowing you to get out there and be part of who you are. Is that part of this change?
Jan Brewer: I don't think so, we have just been so nose down working on everything. I did my very best and did a lot in my mind, certainly, but I'm grateful they wanted to see more of me. We have been through hard times since January. Dealing with the budget, trying to get resolve to it. Hopefully this coming year we'll get out there more and be able to visit with you and your audience and people throughout the state of Arizona.
Ted Simons: Let's talk about the hard times and the budget. Where are you in terms of communication with legislative leadership? What's going on and what can we look forward to in the next month or so?
Jan Brewer: Certainly the president, the speaker of the house and I have communicated. We're trying to make some arrangements to be able to bring the legislature back into special session to address some of the things that didn't get fully addressed during regular session. In regards to some of the agencies out there that need to be funded, there's absolutely no disagreement between the legislature and I on it, just happened to get caught in one of the -- they are functioning without budgets, which is pretty detrimental when you consider that it's the department of revenue who brings in the revenue and the corporation commission who is a constitutional body, they need funding. They need to get moving. Things have slowed up a little bit, but they are doing the very best that they can, ready confederation regulatory board, Palo Verde needs to be addressed. I'm hoping we get everybody together, go in there, maybe at the same time start talking about the budget deficit in Arizona.
Ted Simons: Is one special session -- I'm hearing there may be more than one, maybe incremental movement here. What changes, though? There was so much opportunity in the past to get something done. It wasn't done, and it seems like all sides are pretty well entrenched. What changes with the special session?
Jan Brewer: Well, I think the dynamics have changed. Certainly we're one year behind. That puts maybe better pressure or better information on it. But I was so determined I wasn't going to December mate education and the most vulnerable of our society and when those bills came to me including other pieces of legislation in it that we talked about earlier, hi to veto that particular bill because the fact that the cuts that they wanted to make would have caused us to go below maintenance of effort in education and in access and that would mean that we would lose our federal dollars. We had to veto that. We need to come back in. I think that the public perception is that we are miles and miles apart. I don't think we're miles and miles apart. I think there's a solution there. They may want more than I did. I knew, and I have a responsibility, of course, as governor, to govern and put all the pieces together to make that puzzle. I can't just specifically look at one issue or the other. They all have to perfectly match. I think we can do that. I feel very confident.
Ted Simons: We're hearing the idea of maybe rolling over some things to next year. Borrowing on future lottery proceeds, these kinds of ideas. Can they be incorporated into a budget plan along with further cuts? How much in the way of further cuts are you willing to look at and deal with?
Jan Brewer: Well, you know, the speaker and the president and I both, all of us, have agreed that we have a $1.5 billion deficit. That comes not only from this year, that comes from 2008 rolling over into 2009, rolling over, now the 2010 budget. So when you add that up it's $1.5 billion. We have agreed to that. That's a good starting point. We need to go in and decide just exactly what kind of cuts can we make which are responsible cuts. We have federal mandates. We can't go below maintenance or we lose access dollars. For every dollar the feds give us three. Hose and the case lows are growing because it's bad times. More people are going on to those programs. So we will go in, we will have to make new cuts. My solution has been and I still maintain that we need more revenue. We need to bring some way some how some kind of temporary revenue into the state until we can get the ship turned and blossom again.
Ted Simons: Some critics will say that the 1 cent temporary sales tax which is what you have pushed so hard for doesn't even come close to covering the deficit. Valid?
Jan Brewer: I think they are probably correct. That is a valid argument. We anticipate a 1 cent temporary sales tax increase. Hopefully voted on by the people or possibly passed through the legislature. I'm wishful. It's not going to satisfy that deficit that we're facing. That along with some cuts that we can agree on, then we would have the state turned around and we could move forward. Then we could address issues that I'm very concerned about, and that's growing the economy, bringing jobs to Arizona. Go in there and adjust and do tax reform so we can give tax cuts to businesses that are looking and wanting to come to Arizona to establish new businesses and bring new jobs to people. Then reward those. We need to do that. We could have had it all. We could have had it all last session but it didn't work out. I'm very hopeful.
Ted Simons: You mention bringing new businesses to Arizona. They had to close an office in Tucson. Again, fallout from the budget crisis and stalemate. Was it worth it for that problem, for revenue to have a special session to get those departments back up and operational? Was it worth it to keep that 1 cent sales tax option available and also was it worth the veto to have this kind of repercussion?
Jan Brewer: Absolutely. I have no regrets. I think I did exactly what I should have done. I believe the people of Arizona agree with me. There was no way we could lose our stimulus dollars. Then we would have been maybe another billion dollars in debt. That was not serve us well. Our education system wouldn't have been performing, teachers would have been out of work, increased our unemployment lines. Our access, we could have been fined or sanctions put against us because we have an obligation to the federal government, something that either myself, nor the legislature together can change. We have to fund those people that fall into certain categories. We would have been in a horrible, horrible mess. I'm very comfortable with what I have done. I believe that I would have wished, if you will, perhaps we could have maybe started a little earlier, but I have been here the whole summer waiting, and I know they have been waiting too. I feel very good that I think we will get in there. We will get it done. The legislature and I, you know, we care. We care about what's going to happen to Arizona. I would say this. That those that watched the legislative branch and the governor's office, we all come with ideas, we all have philosophies. That's why there are so many of us working together. In the end we all know what the problem is. We all know we have to solve it. And we will.
Ted Simons: You have asked agency heads to go ahead and submit scenarios of 15% budget cuts. Those scenarios for the most part are in and they don't look promising, very encouraging at all. Critics are saying this is just a scare tactic, just a way for the governor to show what would happen in worst case scenarios to try to drum up public support and try to woo the legislature to your side of the budget argument. How do you respond?
Jan Brewer: I certainly didn't do that because of the scare tactics. Certainly my chief financial officer Eileen Cline requested those agencies to submit to us a 15% cut. Where would they come from, who would be affected and how. Actually, the fact of the matter is that it was used as a data collection tool so we would have some idea. When you're dealing with $1.5 billion deficit and we have to make sure it balances and government functions you have to begin somewhere. We needed that not only for information. We go in and start to address the issue of cuts, but we needed also to build our budget for 2011, which is due to the legislature in 2010 of January. And they were very dramatic. We have cut -- I mean the largest cuts in the history of the state of Arizona in the first six months of my position as governor. That's huge. We have cut a lot of fat. We have certainly furloughed almost 15,000 people. We have laid off over 1500 people. We have cut services. We have done a lot of things to try to get our hands around it. That's been the process. Now we need to figure out just exactly how are we going to do this. We hear people say, we're going to do across the board cuts. We're beyond that. We're down to the bone. Now we don't get to cut horizontally. We have to cut vertically. That means we have to cut programs. So everybody needs to have a handle of what is out there that would be affected by these kinds of cuts. Now, this is not the solution. I don't want anyone to believe that this 15% stuff we're using for data collection, that that is going to resolve the issue. A lot of those that are in there, of course, would need legislation in order to enact. I don't know if people of Arizona would want a lot of those things in there, but those are options. If we don't, then, ted, what is the solution? We need more revenue. We need more revenue. Temporarily for three years move forward, and start growing. Start growing Arizona again.
Ted Simons: Representative Kavanagh said when he first heard about the 15% scenario, he said, great, that shows us where we can start cutting. I mean, this is the battle ground that's going on here. How do you respond to that and the idea that lawmakers think a list is one thing, a plan is another. We need to hear her plan.
Jan Brewer: Well, I think it's really important that everybody including your viewers and the citizens of Arizona, go to the web page and look and see just exactly what those cuts are. We are going to have to make more cuts. I'm glad that Mr. Kavanagh knows that he can look at those and make some of those decisions based on that information. That's what it was for. It was for data collection to give everybody an idea so nobody can later say I didn't know that's what was going to happen. We need to be diligent, very diligent. Arizona is very fragile. I have tried to and I believe I have protected it and kept a buffer underneath there, but we're getting down. There's not going to be stimulus dollars any more. We have a little bit we carried over but we're not going to have that area of the olive branch helping us. Now it's serious. But we can do it. Then we need to bring the economy around. We need to bring employers, we need to bring jobs and we need at the same time to have a good, educated work force, to encourage those businesses to come here and stay here and do it right. And do tax cuts on top of it. We can do it. It's all possible.
Ted Simons: You mentioned earlier in the interview that you care and that lawmakers care, and the people need to know that. There's a lot of talk right now that government in Arizona, that much of Arizona's civic structure is broken and that government needs to be fixed because in the main part people are looking at the stalemate saying, something isn't working. Do you agree that something isn't working right now and that reforms, whether it's clean elections or term limits, something along those lines, getting rid of both, is government broken now?
Jan Brewer: Well, government is probably not functioning at its best right now, but these are terrible times that we're working under. It's always easy to have things go good when times are good. It's difficult to lead when times are bad. That's where we're at today. But I always think it's good to look at what we have enacted and what we have done. What has worked and what hasn't worked? I complement all the people, my office itself is looking, of course, at things we can do and implement, to support in addressing some of those study groups in the community who are looking at changes.
Ted Simons: I asked you because you're the one dealing with the legislature that doesn't seem to be as eager -- both sides seem entrenched. You know the situation, obviously. Is there something structurally that could have helped you or the legislature get a budget?
Jan Brewer: by changing like the makeup of the legislature?
Ted Simons: Indeed, or you could have a different kind of representation, you can have term limits, get rid of clean election --
Jan Brewer: That's interesting. Our legislators are elected by the people that they live in their district with. That is supposed to be representative of that district. So you know, I suppose there are ways to address that, but you know, you bring -- it's a balancing system. You bring all these people from throughout the state with all different kinds of constituencies. And these people are supposed to elect them and represent them. That's their job. Then the governor represents the whole state. She brings with her constituency and all their concerns. Together that gets blended and it's supposed to be the public body for open discussion and debate and then set policy for the state of Arizona. I'm sure there's different ways of doing it. We see it different around the United States where you have a unicameral legislature, one senator for each district, then an a and b district for two representatives. Certainly deserves discussion. I'm all for discussion. I'm all for making things better in Arizona.
Ted Simons: You mentioned earlier that maybe you could have gotten an earlier start on the budget negotiation process. Could you in general have communicated better with lawmakers?
Jan Brewer: Well, you know, I believe probably that I could have. I tried my best to communicate. Things were a lot different than they had ever been in the state of Arizona. Of course, we were in desperate times. Knowing what we were head into with different views how we were going to solve it. So we're going to certainly reach out and communicate, I hope, clearly, and so that everybody knows on the front -- I felt that I laid out my five-point plan early on, they knew where I was, had Ernest talks with the president and the speaker, and they certainly knew what my position was. I certainly compromised, they certainly compromised, and we almost did it. We almost solved the problem. We were shy one vote in the senate. That's how close we were to doing it all. To do the tax referral, to balance the budget, to do the tax cuts, to save education. We almost had it all. One vote. One vote and it didn't happen. I'm hopeful that today and tomorrow that we will get the votes that we need. I would like to see a great majority of the legislators voting for it.
Ted Simons: I asked you the question because you're known as a good campaigner, one on one strong campaigner. You win elections. You're persuasive. All these things. Yet the criticism from the capitol was, where was the governor? Strong campaigner, how come not a stronger push to campaign for these ideas?
Jan Brewer: Well, certainly I was campaigning. I was out in the community talking to people of whom I represent. I certainly was calling and listening and talking to legislators. It's interesting kind of situation having served down there. I always looked at it in my time when I was there as our sand box. Governors traditionally go down once or twice. They don't go down a whole lot. You invite people to your office. There were a lot of people coming up to the 9th floor, so we were communicating. Maybe not so much as they wanted. I don't know. But you know, I make myself very, very accessible. They can call me at home, on my cell phone, they can call me here and I answer. Guaranteed if the legislature calls, the governor answers.
Ted Simons: Critics will say, though, they just didn't see the kind of leadership they were looking for from the 9th floor. Your response.
Jan Brewer: Well, you know, I believe there was leadership. I think there was resistance. I think there was resistance among maybe some of the extremists on the right and on the left. There were just that kind of a mode that was set in place down there. When you have that on both ends, very, very difficult to get the votes that you need. Again, we were only short one vote. You know, in reality, yes, we didn't solve the problem, we have now a $1.5 billion deficit moving forward. Yes, we're one year behind in Arizona of solving the problem, but we need to move forward and we need to work harder and we need to work maybe more quickly in order to get these things done. It's an election year. I know as a prior legislator we always try to get out early in election years so we can get out amongst the folks and tell them the good things we did and to vote for us again.
Ted Simons: It is an election year. There have been polls of late. You're not looking so good in those polls. You started pretty well but what are you thoughts when you read and see these numbers?
Jan Brewer: To be perfectly honest I haven't paid a whole lot of attention to those poll numbers. I have a job to do. I have been concentrating the majority of all of my time on the budget deficit and solution and economic recovery for Arizona, trying to work very hard with the business community not only in Arizona but certainly outside the state to bring new businesses and to bring jobs, good-paying jobs to Arizona. Polls are what they are. The only poll that really counts, my opinion, is on Election Day.
Ted Simons: Well, to that end, we're already hearing republicans, fellow republicans, jumping into the race. The race that you haven't quite -- unless you want to jump in right now -- [laughter]
Jan Brewer: News flash!
Ted Simons: You're not, are you?
Jan Brewer: No.
Ted Simons: Should you jump in, you're going to have some challenges from fellow republicans. What are your thoughts about that?
Jan Brewer: Well, you know, that's what primaries are all about. I'm not going to worry about anybody else. If and when I decide that I'm going to run get in there, I will run a good campaign. I will speak honestly and loyally to the people of Arizona and hopefully be elected if that should happen.
Ted Simons: Okay. Last question. Are you concerned about your legacy?
Jan Brewer: Am I concerned about my legacy?
Ted Simons: Yes.
Jan Brewer: I really haven't given that a lot of thought. I certainly have given it thought -- I had this great opportunity at a very difficult time in Arizona to leave a footprint on the state of Arizona. I believe that when we do what I believe is right with some modifications or however we do it that that legacy will be just fine.
Ted Simons: Governor, thank you so much for joining us.
Jan Brewer: Thank you.
In this segment:
Jan Brewer:Governor of Arizona;
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