Arizona Horizon presents an hour-long special featuring Governor Jan Brewer’s 2013 State of the State Address followed by political analysis of the speech and the upcoming legislative session with former state legislators Stan Barnes, the founder and president of Copper State Consulting Group, and former state senator David Schapira.
Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. The 51st Arizona state Legislature convened today at noon. One of the first points of business was the Governor's state of the state address. Tonight we bring you the Governor's speech in its entirety, followed by political analysis from former Republican state lawmaker Stan Barnes. And former Democratic lawmaker David Schapira. But first Governor Brewer's state of the state address, which took place in front of a joint session of the 51st Arizona State Legislature.
Governor Jan Brewer's State of the State Address: Speaker Tobin, president Biggs, honorable Senators and representatives of the Arizona Legislature, chief justice Berch, and justices of the Supreme Court, constitutional officers, elected leaders, honored guests, tribal leaders, and my fellow Arizonans, three decades ago, nearly to the day, I entered this chamber for the first time as a legislator. I remember it well, taking my oath of office. Friends and family gathered, issues looming, controversy brewing, new members planning, lobbyists scheming -- [Laughter] For all the change across those 30 years, that much still remains the same. Our annual ritual here continues. And while I have spent 26 years seated for addresses like this, this is my fifth time at the lectern. I am so grateful to have been blessed with a family that is my rock of support, my husband John and my son Michael are here today. Thank you. [Applause] Arizona's leaders arrive at this place each year with the same charge: To Foster for our citizens the sacred principles of opportunity and freedom. We are all here on a mission of possibility. Possibility that runs strong from our heritage, deep within our lands and, above all, deep within ourselves. We have just celebrated all of the achievements of Arizona's first 100 years. And we were reminded at that time of Arizona's five C's: Copper, cattle, cotton, citrus and climate. I am here to tell you that our second century will hinge on another C: Competition. That is the clear answer when I reflect upon what I have learned these past four years. And what has changed across the three decades since I first sat in this chamber. Today Arizona must compete for the most desirable jobs for our citizens, the finest teachers in our schools, the most talented students and faculties in our Universities, and each of our citizens must likewise compete to earn a living, build a future, and raise a family in a safe and healthy environment. They face threats that once did not exist and we at this capitol had better make sure we are helping them. Not hurting them in their efforts. [Applause] Together we have made great strides in the last four years to improve Arizona's competitive position. We face the hardest of times by sustaining strengths in state government through the down furnish. Per capita Arizona has the second lowest number of State employees of all states. [Applause] We will reformed our person will system so our citizens will have a state work force motivated by performance and accountability. [Applause] We passed meaningful reform to improve our education system and expand the school choice. And we limited regulations and enacted the largest and most strategic tax cuts in the State's history, unlike our friends in Washington, D.C. [Applause] And we even accomplished something novel and rare in politics. We kept our word. In 2010, we asked the people to increase their own taxes and promised them it would be temporary. That promise will be kept when Proposition 100 sales tax expires in May. Not long ago we were facing the worst housing collapse in our history, the downturn has cost us more than 300,000 jobs and our state government was bogged down by a $3 billion deficit. Now our housing market is on the mend, recovering faster in metro Phoenix than anywhere in America. We are adding jobs at swiftest clip in years, nearly 23,000 in November alone. In fact, Arizona ranked fifth in the nation for job growth during 2012. [Applause] The Kauffman index recently declared Arizona the country's premiere place for entrepreneurs. Our budget is now balanced and we have set aside $450 million in the state's rainy day fund for the next time crisis strikes. [Applause] And crime and violence in Arizona continues to trend downward. Arizonans have reduced crime by punishing criminals and not by infringing on the rights of law abiding gun owners. [Applause] Yes, our State is getting stronger. And I am confident that Arizona's light of opportunity will shine as bright as the Arizona sun in the years to come. Now, I understand there was a little game being played last month called "Where in the world is Jan Brewer?" I heard the rumors. And, no, I wasn't hiking the Appalachian trail. [Laughter] In fact, I was humbled that the United States military gave me an opportunity to visit our heros in uniform, living and working a world away, whether stationed in Kuwait, living on a base in Afghanistan, or recuperating from injuries at a military hospital. The brave men and women I met shared a singular love of country and clarity of purpose. Please join me in honoring their service and sacrifice. [Applause] Of course, while our service members are away, their families serve, too, whether a spouse left behind doing double duty as parent and provider, or a child, waiting and wondering until mom or dad comes home safely. None of it is easy. That's why I'm so pleased to introduce Danielle Drissel and her two boys, Nicholas and Jett. Danielle's husband is staff sergeant Jason Drissel of the Arizona National Guard. I met staff sergeant Drissel this fall while he was on his second deployment to southern Afghanistan, where he is still serving today. Danielle, Nicholas and Jett, please stand so that we can thank you for the sacrifice made by every military family. We are forever in your debt. [Applause] As we meet the challenges facing our State, let's remember those who have given their lives and those that put their lives online every day for the freedoms and liberties we cherish. Let's honor their sacrifice by giving the very best of ourselves every day in our service. We can start by taking action on behalf of some of Arizona's most vulnerable. Arizona's abused and neglected children. In 2011 I convened a child safety task force led by DES director Clarence carver and Maricopa County attorney Bill Montgomery. Many of that panel's recommendations have now been adopted including the creation of a special unit of law enforcement veterans focused on investigating the worst cases of child abuse and neglect. That unit is led by Gregory McKay, a veteran homicide detective and investigator of crimes against children with the Phoenix police department. I am grateful to the Phoenix police department for working with us on this critical mission and to Greg for lending his time and his talents. Greg, please stand so that we may thank you. [Applause] Now we have improved operations at Child Protective Services by overhauling the hotline system so the most you are gents calls are directed for faster response by streamlining the hiring process to ensure every available caseworker position is filled, and by cutting paperwork burdens so caseworkers spend more time checking up on children. Despite these efforts, there can be no doubt our system of child safety is under pressure. Arizona's abused and neglected children need help. The executive budget I released Friday will add 150 CPS caseworkers and boost foster care, adoption services, and emergency placement of children needing rescue. Because these needs can't wait, I am asking you to join me in approving an emergency budget request to hire 50 additional caseworkers right now. [Applause] Let's come together for the safety of our children. We can strike evil from the -- we cannot strike evil from the hearts of those who would harm an innocent child but these common sense steps will help at risk children get assistance they need before it's too late. These past four years we have tacked hard questions and faced moral challenges. My friends, this, too, is a moral issue. And Arizona must protect her children. [Applause] There's no limit to what we can accomplish when we work in cooperation towards a common goal. Just look at Arizona's economic and fiscal turn around. It's no surprise that we in Arizona have created a model of recovery very different than that pursued by the administration in Washington, D.C. Where they have spent, we have saved. Where they have hampered private industry with excessive rules and regulation, we have marshaled the power of the free market. We did this because we know, as president Reagan once said, and I quote, "No power of government is as formidable a force for good as the creativity and entrepreneurial drive of the American people." [Applause] In this new economy, talent is king. Creativity is the new capital, and competition is worldwide. The Arizona Commerce Authority will continue to lead our job attraction efforts. World class employers like Intel, Amazon and silicon valley bank have chosen to locate or expand in Arizona, due in part to the fine work of the ACA and the robust business environment we provide. [Applause] Halfway through this fiscal year, the Commerce Authority has already helped deliver more than $680 million in capital investment and 6,000 jobs. [Applause] While we lower the barriers to business growth, keeping regulations lean and taxes competitive, it's clear we have another problem. Our own sales tax system. Sales tax is the most critical source of revenue for core state programs, but our sales tax code is also one of the most complicated in the nation. It's an accountant's dream but a business owner's nightmare. Arizona's local and state government v. created a tax system with so many twists and turns that we make it difficult for businesses to simply pay what they owe. For business owners serving customers in multiple cities with multiple license requirements, multiple tax returns, multiple tax bases and multiple audits, compliance can be nearly impossible. Take Linda Stanfield, owner of Benjamin Franklin plumbing. Linda serves customers all over the valley, meaning she deals with a different sales tax code in every city in which she does business. Thankfully, she was willing to lend her time and expertise last year when I convened a task force of retailers, business owners, and tax experts to offer recommendations on how we can simplify our tax system. She is part of an Arizona allegiance of mall business owners who make up the backbone of our economy. Linda is here today. Linda, please stand. I know we are all grateful for your tireless efforts. [Applause] But we must do more than simply thank our small business owners. We can adopt a concrete steps outlined by Linda and Senate majority leader john McComish and how the majority Rick gray and other members of the special task force. Steps that will simplify our sales tax code, remove one more barrier to economic growth to make Arizona even more competitive. While we take these important steps to boost our economy, we can't forget the most fundamental and lasting key to Arizona's competitiveness: Our schools. First we have a responsibility to make certain our children have a safe place to learn. The mass occur at Sandy Hook Elementary was unimaginable. Our job now is to take common sense steps that lessen the likelihood of a similar tragedy striking Arizona while resisting the urge to turn a school into a fortress. [Applause] Part of the solution is something that already has a track record of success, the school resource officer. My budget plan will expand these fundings for these trained officers. Let's come together for the safety of our schools, allowing our teachers and children to focus on what's most important, learning. [Applause] We have already injected competition into our education system. And Arizona's growing charter school sector has produced several of the top performing models in the nation. But this remains a state where one in four third graders can't read at grade level. And one in four students drops out of high school before graduation. It's no coincidence those numbers are the same. Research tells us that early reading proficiency is one of the strongest predictors of later educational success. That's why I am so proud the Arizona Legislature joined me last year in funding the move on when reading program. Beginning now, schools across Arizona must develop comprehensive reading assessments to identify students falling behind. With the help of the State, local schools will connect students with reading experts. We know that reading proficiency starts at home. We must continue to encourage parents to fulfill this basic privilege and doubt. Working with parents and schools, let's help ensure today's struggling young reader doesn't become tomorrow's dropout. [Applause] To enable our schools to keep pace with global competition, we are raising standards and increasing accountability for students, schools and teachers. Everyone knows that global competition for jobs has changed. Our schools must keep pace. Our new common core standards are benchmarked to the top education measures in the world. If Arizona schools aren't doing the job, we will know about it and so will the parents. Of course, it's not enough to install a new curriculum, raise standards, and hope for the best. I am committed to helping schools and teachers make this transition a success. You will see that reflected in the detailed budget I released Friday and that brings us to school funding. Whatever your points of view, we should all agree that it's time we start funding the academic results we want to see. What I am proposing is the nation's first comprehensive performance funding plan for our districts and charter schools. This plan will reward schools that earn high marks or see real improvement in performance. I am not talking about scrapping attendance-based funding formulas. Rather, this will augment that system with an innovative approach to promoting school performance while maintaining local control. [Applause] Together let's stop simply funding the system we have and start funding the student achievement we want. [Applause] Arizona's future is also tied to another critical decision. It's a decision some would prefer not to face. They would like to wish it away. We cannot. Nor can we simply wag our finger at the Federal government. Trust me, I tried that once. [Laughter] [Applause] Of course, I am speaking about Arizona's Medicaid program and expanded coverage in accordance with the affordable care act. Like many. You, I opposed the president's health care plan. That's why after weighing the pros and the cons of the Obama health care exchange I opted against Arizona's participation. I also led Arizona in joining a coalition of states that sought to block the program in court. And I have taken every opportunity to argue for health reform with less bureaucracy, more patient choice, and fewer costs. [Applause] Try as we might, the law was upheld by the United States Supreme Court. The president was reelected, and his party controls the United States Senate. In short, the affordable care act isn't going anywhere. At least not for the time being. [Applause] By agreeing to expands our Medicaid program just slightly, beyond what Arizona voters have twice mandated, we will protect rural and safety net hospitals from being pushed to the brink by growing their costs and caring for the uninsured, take advantage of an enormous economic benefit, inject $2 billion into our economy, save and create thousands of jobs, and provide health care to hundreds of thousands of low-income Arizonans. [Applause] Saying no to this plan would not save these Federal dollars from being spent or direct them to a deficit reduction. No, Arizona's tax dollars would simply be passed to another state, generating jobs and providing health care for citizens in California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, or any other expansion state. Remember, Arizona's citizens have voted twice to expand Medicaid coverage. With this move, we will secure a Federal revenue stream to cover the cost of the uninsured who already show up in our doctors' offices and emergency rooms. Under the current system, these costs are passed along to Arizona's families. Health care premiums are raised year after year to account for expenses incurred by our hospitals as they provide care to the uninsured. This amounts to a hidden tax estimated at nearly $2,000 per family per year. As I weighed this decision, I was troubled by the possibility that a future president and Congress may take steps to reduce Federal matching rates, leaving states with a greater and greater share of health costs over time. And I worried that any expansion of Medicaid, no matter the Federal subsidy could result in costs the state cannot afford. Together with my team, I have crafted a plan to address both those concerns and safe guard Arizona. First, any expansion of our Medicaid program will include a circuit breaker that automatically rolls back enrollment if Federal reimbursement rates decrease. I won't allow Obamacare to become a bait and switch. [Applause] Second, we will allow hospitals and health providers to assess a fee upon themselves. Using that revenue to leverage Federal assistance. This is already done in 47 states and it's also going on in the city of Phoenix and under consideration in other cities across Arizona. With the Federal revenue this hospital assessment generates, we could assure that our state general fund bears no cost in expanding Medicaid. [Applause] This doesn't mean it's free money. We know there is no such thing. I am as much of a Federal deficit hawk as anyone in this chamber but Arizona's Medicaid programming, AHCCS, is not the problem. It is, in fact, part of the solution as the nationally recognized gold standard for cost-effective managed care in this country. I will be releasing more details about my Medicaid plan in the days ahead. Weigh the evidence and do the math. With the realities facing us, taking advantage of this Federal assistance is the strategic way to reduce Medicaid pressure on the state budget. We can prevent health care expenses from eroding core services such as education and public safety, and improve Arizona's ability to compete in the years ahead. [Applause] I am committed to doing this, and I want you on my side. Let's work together in an atmosphere of respect and do what is best for Arizona. [Applause] With all of the subjects we tack at this capitol -- tackle at this capitol, we must recall the facts and figures and spreadsheets never tell the whole story. For that, we must go back to the people we serve. Amazing things happen in Arizona when we work together as leaders, marshal available resources, and encourage innovation and partnership. There's someone special I would like you to meet today. Her name is Shelby and she's 12 years old. It wasn't long ago that she would have needed a wheelchair to be with us. For nearly her entire life, she was a prisoner to a rare and unknown neurological disorder. It prevented her from speaking. She could not hold up her head. And had trouble eating and breathing. Her case had the doctors stumped. Then Shelby saw researchers at TGEN center for rare childhood disorders right here in Arizona. There the researchers sequenced Shelby's genome,ed off the cause of her ailment and prescribed a treatment plan. The results speak for themselves. Shelby, I am so happy you are with us today. Please stand so that we may applaud you and your courage -- [Applause] I have been in public life a long time. You know I speak my mind. I do what I think is right, a lot like Arizona herself. Our state has never shied away from tough decisions. We have been a national leader when it comes to everything from battling Federal mandates to push, the feds to live up there their responsibilities. So it should be no surprise that when it comes to management of our precious natural resources, I would like Arizona to set her own course as much as possible. Today I have issued an executive order establishing the Arizona natural resource review council. This council is tasked with creating a plan to help protect and maintain the values of multiple use, sustained yield, public access, and economic development on Federal lands. [Applause] I'm calling on the local governments and the private sector to join with the State to meet this long-term vision. More than 30 million acres across our State are already under Federal control. The council's plans will be one way we can protect Arizona's interests on Federal lands. Arizona knows best how to manage her own land and natural resources. [Applause] Of course, you can't discuss Arizona's relationship with the Federal government without mentioning Mexico and our shared border. I have heard the earnest calls for immigration reform. I agree our nation's system is broken and has been for decades. To the reformers, I say, demonstrate your stated commitment to secure the border by making that your first priority. -- thank you. [Applause] After so many broken promises, so many starts and stops with border security, join me in holding the Federal government to account. [Applause] Once our border is secure, I pledge to work with all fair-minded people to reform our nation's immigration system. It must, once again, combine the rule of law and human compassion. Providing safety for our citizens and facilitating our economic relationship with Mexico, Arizona's largest trading partner. We have already seen the border largely secured in the Yuma sector. The steep decline in illegal crossings is proof that our border can be secured when the Federal government employs the right mix of fencing, manpower, and technology. Now I ask -- [Applause] Now I ask the president to finish the job, secure the Tucson sector, the most heavily traveled Gateway for illegal crossing into this country. Fulfill your promise to the American people and I will make good on mine. [Applause] In the meantime, because I will never shy away from taking actions necessary to protect our State, I will be issuing an executive order establishing a task force against human trafficking. This is truly a crime against humanity. A modern-day slavery in which men and women and children are sold into forced labor or prostitution. Cindy McCain has been a leading voice in the fight against human trafficking. She is with us today and I look forward to working with her and legislators to combat this growing problem. [Applause] Finally, for those of you just beginning this voyage of public service and for others who have been at it for many years, there is someone here with us today who has been an inspiration. Someone who's contributions to this state will be felt for generations to come. I am speaking, of course, about United States senator Jon Kyl. He is that rarest of creatures in Washington, someone who has walked away of his own free will and without voters showing him the door. Senator Kyl leaves behind a lasting model of quiet dignity, grace, and something those of us in the west used to call horse sense. I know that senator Kyl wasn't feeling well and had to leave but please, let's stand for him so that we can thank him for his noble service. [Applause] As we gather this legislative session, let us put the best interests of Arizona above all else. Because that is what we are called to do. Arizona's challenges are great but not greater than our capacity to meet them. This is Arizona's legacy. We were the last of the continental states carved from rugged country, a territorial landscape equally harsh and beautiful. If Arizona truly intends to compete, we should study the meaning of the word. This may surprise you. But the word "Compete" is of Latin root. It means "To strive together." Our forefathers built this state for us with a shared purpose and common cause. We can secure the future only through that same spirit. Let us not squander the many blessings we have inherited. Let us leave a legacy of our own as we make the difficult decisions that keep Arizona on the path to prosperity. It is a legacy I pray that will be worthy of this wonderful place I love. I am thankful you are all here with me now to do the people's work in this time and in this place. Just as when I first entered this chamber three decades ago, I am filled with optimism. It's the kind that comes with knowing our cause is just and our course is true. I know that Arizona's best days are yet to come. God bless you. God bless America, and god bless the great state of Arizona. [Applause]
Ted Simons: And with that, Governor Brewer sets the tone for the first regular session of the 51st Arizona Legislature. Here to talk about the speech and the challenges facing state lawmakers is former Republican state legislator Stan Barnes, now the president of Copper State consulting. And former Democratic legislator, David Schapira, the immediate past minority leader of the Arizona state Senate. Good to have you both here. Thanks for joining us. Thoughts on the speech.
Stan Barnes: I was lucky enough to sit on the floor as a former member. It's always a fun day to be there. Jan, Governor Brewer has never looked more like Governor Brewer than today. She was present. She was calm. And I gave her some high marks for not only the deep substance that she brought to the table, but also just the nice gubernatorial way in which she delivered it. I think it was her best off the five she's had so far.
Ted Simons: What do you think, David?
David Schapira: I will certainly agree with Stan that it was her best of the five. In my mind that's not saying a whole ton but I think we are talking in terms of delivery. She was steady. She was almost emotionless even on the applause lines. But again that's just tone. That's just delivery. I think the meat of it, there's certainly some problems and quirks.
Ted Simons: Yeah, the idea, though, of a little more subdued, maybe a little more gravitas, statesmanlike, by design? What do you think?
Stan Barnes: Yeah, I'm not so much drilled down on the style. I think it's important. But she was substantive. There's been a lot of talk is she a lame duck? Is she not? All that kind of stuff. I think she could have been light on specifics, and coasted if She wanted to. If she was the person some of her detractors accuse her of being but she brought some heavyweight stuff to this speech that was very substantive. And the Legislature now is going to have a lot to think about because she set the tone.
Ted Simons: Indeed with that in mind let's talk about the heaviest thing, the biggest surprise perhaps, the idea of expanding Medicaid, upholding the will of the voters. Were you surprised?
David Schapira: Well, I was definitely surprised because I got this advanced copy of the speech itself, and had kind of reviewed it in the hour or so embargoed copy. And got, she got to that point in the speech and all of the sudden the words she was saying in the speech were not the words in the packet. Shelves a last minute edition and I think She wanted it to be a surprise. To a lot of folks in the Capitol because there's going to be some blow back. One of the things about a speech like this, I think she did bring up a lot of very substantive issues and took some stances on some tough stuff. And the question you always have to ask in a State of the State or state of the Union, can you make it happen? The Medicaid is going to be tough because she has a Legislature that is going to be very reluctant to make that happen. The Democratic caucus has been pushing for her to keep the promise she made when they first cut these folks off the Medicaid. And I am glad that she's kept that promise and is proposing it. I am hopeful the Legislature will have her back on it.
Ted Simons: Surprised?
Stan Barnes: I am not surprised. I think it ended up being now that we look at it in the rear have you mirror, a pragmatic governing decision. What else could she did do when she weighed all the evidence? Separately to David's point, can she get it done? If this issue about Medicaid expansion the way she describes it were on the house or Senate floor today, it would have the votes to pass but it would day take a lot of Democratic members to go along with the majorities Republicans. The question will be how will speaker Tobin and president Biggs we have on this issue with her? When they negotiate the budget. Will it be that package? Will it be a separate vote? Who's going to be committed to vote for it and not? Those are some of the intricacies that remain.
Ted Simons: That brings up a good question then. How hard will she fight? How hard will legislative leadership fight back?
Stan Barnes: My guess is, with today's speech, she's plan planted the flag and she is not going home from the legislative session without it. I don't know where Senate president Biggs is going to be in the end. A lot of it, and speaker Tobin. If they know the votes are there, if they recognize voters twice have voted the way they have, if they think, if they weigh it themselves, will they let it pass? Will they buy in on it? Will they let it go to the floor? Part of the legislative log rolling that is you our wonderful form of self government.
Ted Simons: What are you seeing along those lines?
David Schapira: You know how meaty a Governor's State of the State address is by hearing the sine die predictions after the speech is over. When you talk to the politicos, people are saying this is going to be a June or July session, you know she's come up with some meaty stuff. Stan makes a great point the question isn't going to be, hopefully, I think he's right whether or not there's the votes in the house and Senate. I think with the increased Democratic members and a little bit more even balance there I think the Democrat wills be on board with the Medicaid expansion. The question will be, does Andy Biggs and to some extent Andy Tobin put this up for a vote?
Ted Simons: Was it a surprise to hear the self assessment to keep it off the general fund?
David Schapira: I'm not sure that's a surprise because I think a lot of us have looked at that as the best way of doing it. That was something that was negotiated in the last couple years. This isn't the new discussion. The question is again really going to be, will folks at the capitol buy into that? Will the Legislature buy into that? The Governor's point on that was, she doesn't want any money to come off the general fund. And I think the important second point to that is, if this works, we could have no money come off the general fund, no taxpayer dollars other than the provider assessments. And we could have $2 billion injected in the state's economy which question desperately need.
Ted Simons: That provider assessment, that made for some nasty times in the past couple of years. Some hurt feelings and the whole nine yards with this speech, boom, there it is.
Stan Barnes: That's one way to look at it. Sometimes things aren't rhyme yet. A few years ago in the hospital association came to the Legislature, they presented this issue and it was roundly booed. Some of it was the way they presented it. Some of it was the timing. Some of it was this or else. That politics on the hospital association's part. But they have that is now passed. The emergency remains and the reality is taking hold.
Ted Simons: Did she make a strong enough case for emergency funding for more CPS caseworkers?
Stan Barnes: I think she did because she opened with it. And that was a nice way to bite right into the substance and she also said she wanted a separate emergency vote on it. She spent a lot of time making the case but I don't think a lot of lawmakers think a case needs to be made. It's itself evident.
Ted Simons: What do you think about that?
David Schapira: It's another issue where she will get some fight from her side of the aisle. Our caulk cuss has believed that this is a problem that needs to be addressed. I'm glad she took a stand on it and I am hopeful the Republican leadership will join her.
Ted Simons: These are major issues here, though the CPS to a certain degree but expanding Medicaid and using that Federal money and basically having the Governor say, it's the law, get used to it, that's a pretty big deal.
David Schapira: And there was an interesting moment. When they were talking Obamacare and she said this is the law and it's going to stand and she paused for a second as if it were an applause line and only the Democrats on the floor were applauding. Itself applauding sitting in the basement watching on television. And but it was I'm glad that she has gotten away from the lawsuit piece of it and spending taxpayer dollars on legal fees and has gotten into the let's implement this mode. It's here to stay.
Ted Simons: I know speaker Tobin on this program said his major concern regarding the expansion was the money may not be there in the future, physically in really bad times or may not be there because someone else is deciding it shouldn't be there and policy has changed. A circuit breaker.
Stan Barnes: Yeah. Which makes perfect political sense. Build a man that says take the money. Let's serve needy Arizonans and if the Federal government scalings it back, defaults on their side, whatever we will go back to what we have been doing. We have done this before. We have taken childless adults off of our state Medicaid program. We can do it again. In the meantime, there's money on the table. There's people that need help. That's what I think they will do.
David Schapira: On the circuit breaker point, she's been through this before. And I think she's learned a lesson of the last couple years. She kicked all these folks off Medicaid. Let's be clear. Her budget proposed taking the very same people she would like to make eligible now, proposed taking them out of our Medicaid program. And she saw what the blow back looked like. What the circuit breaker is a way for her to defer blame and basically blame the Federal government if and when they scale back.
Ted Simons: Will Democrats have problems with that?
David Schapira: I don't think so. That to me is not the big issue. Are we going to get to 133% of the Federal poverty level? Is a very low bar frankly. And is the provider assessments going to cover it? And can we draw down the $1.6 billion?
Stan Barnes: What I love about today's speech was some of the topics we were on. And how they were presented. In the last, well, all the time Jan Brewer has been Governor things have been really bad. She took over as things were going really south and we have ridden through the worst financial time in any of our lives. And yet every speech she's made, the other four, have had to land on that issue, stay on that issue and answer that issue. This time we didn't. The whole mood of the capitol is different. Most lawmakers have never done anything besides cut budgets. Now they get to talk about what we can do to help. It's really a new time.
Ted Simons: Education is a part of that. This comprehensive education reform plan, the first in the nation according to the Governor, what are we talking about sneer.
David Schapira: There's certainly performance funding in a lot of places already. When she says comprehensive performance, maybe that's where she's saying it's first in the nation and she will say other states don't have that comprehensive of a program. What we have to read between the lines and see when you talk about performance fund, all well and good. We want to be competitive. We want schools to strive to achieve and race to the top and be as good as we can. What does that translate into on the ground? I'm a school board member in Tempe union high school district. When we hear things like performance funding, what we hear is that our schools that are doing well right now are going to get more money. And I think that's what she means. The schools that are not doing as well are going to get less money. In business, people in business say, yeah, I have a branch that's doing well. I want to give incentives to my employees. If my branch is not doing well, you think of commission. But we can't treat education that way because the consumer is kid and who gets short changed when the low performing school doesn't get the funding? The kid that's in a school that's already not performing well. We have to look out for kids in those schools and make sure those kids are getting as access to the ability the to pull themselves up by the boot straps.
Stan Barnes: David is giving his speech as if he is senator Schapira. Which I enjoy. He no longer has a vote. I don't know how our Democratic friends are going to behave on this point but our Republicans I think want to own the space of doing something to empower schools. This is has been a big charter school state. I give the Governor points for not ignoring public schools. She wants to take some of this surplus, call it what you will, and direct it to education and this is the method which she's chosen.
Ted Simons: What about Republicans? What about conservatives? You have got everyone on that side of the aisle up to and including superintendent of public instruction thinking more funding is not necessary.
Stan Barnes: That's the appropriate Rocky Mountain response. And it is -- it's rack rat for a points of view. Politically speaking they are going to divide that dollar up. Some will go to public schools.
Ted Simons: Common core, we hear a lot about common core standards starting next foul. Really quickly, what is common core? Is the state ready?
David Schapira: We are on a path to getting ready. Our school district right now is already work on implementing common core. What is common core? We have a set of standards that our state has created, our state board of education has created over the years and it's our own. It's a unique Arizona set of standards. What's happen the is there's been a national movement towards setting some high standards that can be implemented across the country. Most states are participating in common core. We are one of them. In our school district, for example, we had teachers getting together with department chairs with curriculum supervisors to start to modify our curriculum, the content of our courses, to meet these standards and make sure we are on, going to meet that national bar. And, yeah, we are on the path towards doing that. There's still some implementation to come.
Ted Simons: As far as guns in classrooms, guns in campus, that whole debate, I got a bit of a mixed message. We don't want to turn our campuses into fortresses, and then again, we do want to have these resource officers funded. Which I believe they were funded at one time but that was cut. Correct?
Stan Barnes: I think you are right. And the budget contraction things had to be relegate and the that was one of them. There was a Governor 7 way of touching that national tragedy. I thought she did it with a certainly dignity about it. You have to have an answer if you are the head of the State of Arizona and her answer is in the center right zone politically. That's what I think center right Arizonans want to do is to do something about that feels pragmatic and now about defending kids at schools shouldn't be necessary.
Ted Simons: But not turning a school into a fortress.
David Schapira: As far as I am concerned the SRO, school resource officer is a great program. Most high schools in Arizona have a resource officer and we are paying for it out of our pocket because we the state doesn't pay for it anymore. It's not good the gun. It's having a law enforcement official on campus to build relationships with students, to create positive interaction with students and a lot is not punishment, it's not writing reports or taking a kid to jail. It's building relationships with students. I think it's a great program that should continue.
Ted Simons: Real quickly, this idea of simplifying the tax code, the Governor is serious about this. She's a task force and recommendations are out. She mentioned it again.
Stan Barnes: It goes far. This is the Governor's signature policy issue this year, I believe. And you can't do it quickly. You said real quickly, there's no way to do that topic quickly. It's very complicated topic. But the Governor spent a great deal of political capital on it. She will continue to and I think at the end of the legislative session you will see real reform which we wanted since 25 years ago when I was sworn in as a young man down at the statehouse. It's a mess in & needs to be fixed. I think they're gonna do it.
Ted Simons: But do you have to be careful when you are a state so dependent on the sales tax.
Stan Barnes: Yeah. I bet your viewers don't know because most of us don't that over half of Arizona's general fund revenue comes from this tax. And so touching it is something we have to do delicately.
Ted Simons: how do Democrats feel about this, changing the transaction privilege tax?
David Schapira: I think some of the points she made are right out of the talking points we have been making for the last couple years which is it's a very complicated code. There's a lot of loopholes. You have heard people make jokes frankly in the last few years about the four inch pipe exemption. There are some of really silly exemptions in the sales tax code. And it needs reform and I am glad she's going to step up to the plate and I think the devil is going to be in the details but you make an excellent point as well, we have to be very careful because it does make up for a grace portion of our state's revenue and if we tweak I want too far, if we tweak it in the wrong way it could do a lot of damage.
Ted Simons: Creating accounts for protecting Arizona's interests on federal land, is that a bone being tossed out there?
David Schapira: Absolutely. We have a caucus I will call them at the Legislature that we call them essentially the success caucus. They run legislation every year to basically just fly in the face of the Federal government and say, you know, we don't think the Federal government should have any control over Federal lands. We had a ballot initiative this year that said the Federal government should not have control over the land, the air above it, the water that may or may not be below it and she is throwing a bone to that caucus but it's funny, she's the first Governor to criticize the Federal government and the first governor to stand right at a ribbon cutting and take credit for it.
Ted Simons: Let's close it as well with the speech. You still are on the floor. That really is amazing. But during the speech, again, we got about a minute left here. We will start, where we started, the idea of a statesman like, she mentioned the finger pointing to the president but in a self deprecating manner. Close it out for us. Is there a legacy she's trying to leave here? Whatever the tone?
Stan Barnes: I think so. When she, that was -- that was the seasoned Jan Brewer as Governor. That particular line. It was the best line of the whole speech and it was great because it was self deprecating and because it actually fit so well in the message she was trying to translate at that very moment. That there's sometimes a pure futility in running ideology to ground that hurts yourself and hurts others when you should be doing something more pragmatic. I loved it. It was a great line.
Ted Simons: Last point again from a Democratic perspective you got a Governor now who is approaching issues in ways Democrats might like, would seem to like. How does that change the dynamic?
David Schapira: She talked at the end about striving together. I think this day, opening day of the legislative session is a great opportunity for us to say we are going to be divisive or work together. I am hopeful it bears fruit and hopeful she keeps the promises she made in the speech.
Ted Simons: Great discussion. Good to have you both here.
David Schapira: Stan Barnes:Appreciate it.
In this segment:
Stan Barnes:Former State Legislator and Founder and President, Copper State Consulting Group; David Schapira:Former State Senator;
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