Journalists’ Roundtable

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Local Arizona journalists discuss the week’s top news stories.

>>> Good evening, and welcome
To "Arizona Horizon."
I'm Ted Simons.
Joining me tonight are
Alia Rau of "The Arizona
Republic," Mike Sunnucks of
The "Phoenix business journal,"
and Luige de Puerto of the
"Arizona capitol times."
The next legislative session
kicks off Monday with the
governor's state of the state
And all systems are go.
Give us a general impression of
what we should expect.
>> I don't think it is going to
be as crazy as past years.
We will see a little moderation
which might be new for this new
A lot of new members coming in
in the house.
Everybody is still trying to
figure out who they are, what
they are going to be.
How they are going to align so
we're not quite sure what is
going to happen with them in
the house.
New leadership in the Senate,
we will see how Andy Biggs does
as president.
Mixture in terms of more
moderate conservative
republicans in leadership --
>> You mentioned the idea of
maybe extremist goals in the
past but there is concern that
gun issues may supercede
health, education, taxes, the
whole nine yards.
>> That will be the exception.
I think spending-wise,
immigration-wise, maybe the
abortion issue won't be as much
as in past sessions, but
definitely guns is going to be
at the forefront and you will
see a lot of NRA type folks try
to push some of their bills and
that may bring that crazy tag
back to the state because it is
a big national issue obviously
after the Connecticut and other
What path we follow, I think,
will determine how extreme or
how moderate the session will
be judged.
>> What do you think, what
about the relationship between
the leadership and the
What are you seeing there?
>> Well, I think everybody
understands that the governor
carries the bigger bat.
Haven't realized the faster
they get that, the easier
things get.
The governor will lay out her
state of the state address
We will know the details of her
budget on Friday.
The governor, to a certain
extent gets what she wants.
She has proposals that she will
lay out and she will fight hard
for them.
I -- I think there -- you know,
Andy Biggs very conservative,
but at the same time a smart
He knows the limits of what he
can do, what he might want to
do personally, and I think that
will play into that.
Like ALIA said, I believe more
moderation simply because of
the function of the numbers in
the house and Senate.
A more moderate makeup than in
the -- in previous years.
>> They don't have the money
because of the sales tax going
And they talked about this at
the chamber today.
The governor and the
legislative leaders but not
real aggressive spending or
They just passed tax cuts.
Some of those are going into
They have done some abortion
Immigration is kind of more of
a national issue now.
I think they have kind of used
all of their arrows in that.
That kind of leaves guns as
kind of the big hot button
issue that will get a lot of
>> Let's start with guns as far
as focusing in on specific
Will there be, do you think, a
pushed for armed guards?
Armed teachers, armed
Let's start K-12 but the
universities as well.
>> I think there definitely
will be a push.
Increasing funding for school
resource officers.
Everybody might be able to
agree on something with that
What if we have teachers have
nonlethal weapons like tasers,
that might be an interesting
>> Haven't heard that one
>> A new one coming out.
>> The kind of thing where any
and all ideas will be floated
and see what hits?
>> We have seen a lot of ideas
at this point.
Previously I think people have
understood that any kind of gun
legislation that goes back or
makes or restricts gun
ownership or -- in the past,
they have always not gained a
attraction, but fact that
people are introducing more
proposals, a little bit of a
change in the debate.
I don't think Arizona is quite
ready or this legislature is
ready to roll back on some of
the more liberal, more
permissive gun laws in the
>> What do you think, the idea
on campus, K-12 one thing.
University campus another.
Are we going to see an effort
to arm teachers and
administrators or have trained
armed guards --
>> I think you will see all of
the above.
Look at other states, Utah,
Texas, which have lenient gun
Utah, a lot of red states will
look at that in this debate.
The feds looking at background
checks and gun shows.
It limits what the states can
I think you will see some gun
rights proposals, including the
funding for resource officers
and those things.
Obviously the sheriff has been
talking about this.
An issue that folks on both
sides will galvanize on.
>> Go so far as public venues
and arenas again?
>> Bills will be introduced.
I'm not sure if they will go
>> I'm not sure Brewer will let
it go through.
She has vetoed it twice --
>> Vetoes anything way out
there, but I think folks in the
gun lobby and gun rights world
see this as an opportunity to
get their voice out there.
On national TV, think you will
see them take it to friendly
state legislators like we have
and try to push their agenda
>> You have business and
property rights concerns when
you talk about allowing guns
into private venues and
That plays into the dynamic as
I would imagine business
interests, they have a concern
here as well.
>> They always have.
If you remember, a big debate
about personal property,
ownership of that, privacy.
Vis-a-vis gun ownership.
A few years ago, if you have
a -- if you have a concealed
carry permit, you can bring a
gun into a restaurant.
Huge debate about, you know,
personal property, gun rights.
Probably see some of that
Governor has said even in
interviews this week that she
is really not willing to go as
far as, for example, arming one
school staffer on every campus.
I think she strongly indicated
she doesn't want to go there.
What she has said, strongly
She wants to fund the school
resource program, where, you
know, the program funds police
officers on campuses.
>> I think you will see sports
teams have a problem with the
public venue thing, movie
theater, grocery stores, any
obvious public venue.
I think the legislature could
pass some of these things and
see it vetoed.
>> As far as the budget is
concerned, any mood to spend?
Rainy day fund touch and go
with $1 billion here.
That being said, is that money
going to be put to use or is
that going to be held on to?
>> I think we're going to have
to wait and see on that one.
Two weeks ago, three weeks ago,
I think we were hearing from
leadership that they were not
interested in spending anymore
money than they had to.
I talked to Andy BIGGS the day
before yesterday, and he
mentioned funding, maybe not
funding, but assistance to
seriously mentally ill.
It is possible we may see more
funding for that.
It seems like Governor Brewer
focusing on CPS stuff.
We may see a push for funding
on that.
>> What do you think as far as
getting some of this money back
into circulation?
Some economists say this is not
the time to be holding on to
Get it out there and pumping
through the economy.
>> A drag in the economy if you
basically hoarded back the
money and -- the idea if you
put the money into the
situation, the economy, it will
produce more for the state and
more revenues down the road.
I still do not see the
legislature dipping into the
rainy day fund.
I think they will hold on to
that money and say we are going
to use it when we have an
emergency because that is what
a rainy day fund is for, for an
The other day -- willing to
look at funding that is around
$200 million above the formula
growth that we have.
We will see a little bit of
extra spending, if you will, in
the upcoming budget.
I think the governor indicated
that she wants to ensure that
the schools have the resources
to deal with the new changes,
policy changes that -- the
common core standards.
We will see some spending.
>> What do you think about
>> I think it will be moderate.
Mental health services, school
resource officers, CPS.
I don't think it is going to be
big ticket or aggressive.
>> Impact of losing a temporary
sales tax, hovering over
everything, does that play into
the formula?
>> I think a little bit.
I think some republicans did
not want to see it extended.
They like to starve the beast
and see smaller government,
less revenue, less government.
Short term, long term, today at
the chamber luncheon, talked
about being fiscally prudent
going forward.
>> More of a say in shaping the
budget, idea that there wasn't
as much public input last year
on budget decisions as some
folks would have liked to have
Will that change?
>> I would be surprised if it
Democrats -- a few more
members, a little more
Still the minority.
They hope they're getting some
voice -- still Andy BIGGS,
Tobin, people on the republican
side running the budget plans.
I don't think we will see more
democratic involvement.
More public involvement -- I
don't know -- limited public
comment last year, he
wouldn't -- wouldn't be
surprised if he did it again
this year?
>> What do you think will that
open up a little bit?
>> Senate president Andy BIGGS,
open door policy, democrat or
republican can go in the
door -- I still have a hard
time envisioning that they will
sit down as two caucuses
hammering out a budget.
That happened many years ago
largely because the governor
was a democrat then.
>> The idea of the rebounding
economy, how does that play
into what the legislature will
be looking at as far as budget
Not only rebounding economy for

this year but coming years.
>> They see tempered on the
economic -- they don't want to
get too aggressive on what they
are spending or what will come
in revenue wise.
I see them again very
conservative and prudent on
I don't think they're going to
say we expect the economy to
We can refund some of these
things or do new things.
They seem like we're going to
stick to our guns where we're
at now.
>> Health care exchange,
governor chose the federal
option, does that mean that
that is done with or will the
legislature start to tinker
around a little bit?
>> I think there is an upcoming
deadline where you could do
some sort of in cooperation
But I'm not hearing anything
that there is interest in that.
It seemed to be done at the
>> What do you think?
She made the decision, but that
decision could change.
>> The state at some point in
the future after 2014, may opt
for a state-run health care --
in this upcoming session, I
don't see that issue being
>> And as far as expanding
Medicaid, what is going on
>> That is one of the bigger
issues in the upcoming session.
Maybe one of the biggest issues
in the upcoming session.
We have our own proposition,
prop 24 which mandates that we
cover low-income people.
We froze the enrollment of a
subsection, subset of that
population in 2011.
The big issue, are we going to
restore, the health coverage
for those folks.
And if we did, where would we
get the money for it?
To my mind, that really will be
the -- the bigger issue in this
legislative session.
>> Even with the idea that
there would be enhanced federal
reimbursements if you did
expand, I know some at the
legislature saying they are not
sure the -- will not come
through with the money, and may
not even have it at hand or
something will change and they
will not be willing to give it
>> I don't think there is any
appetite for the governor or
anybody in the chambers,
anything to do with the Obama
You are seeing it this in other
republican states too.
We're not alone in this.
There is support from the
hospital and business community
to get back the 204 people.
That will be a big debate.
Maybe this year and next year.
And there will be some tough
decisions to make.
>> President BIGGS mentioned
the idea from hospital is
somewhat mixed, we need the
money, help, attention.
Capital expansion going on all
of the time.
He says that is a mixed
What are you hearing?
>> Hospitals are financially
tied to some of their programs.
They try to expand things that
brings them in revenue.
Things like Medicaid and
reimbursements that don't cover
dollar for dollar.
When you cut that, that hurts
What they are trying to expand
are things they can make money
on and be viable on.
It is not necessarily a mixed
They are trying to make their
business model more viable.
>> Idea of health care,
uncompensated care being a
hidden tax, I know that is -- a
lot of folks agree to that, but
what can be done about that?
>> I think it is a good
There is going to be a lot of
conversation, a lot of debate
and we haven't seen these sides
on the same page very often.
And they don't talk very well.
So, we will see what happens if
we can get them to have a
>> What do you think?
>> One idea that is gaining
Not a new idea, proposed
before, they never really went
Idea of some sort of a bed tax,
assessment or fee on the
hospitals, use money to draw
down federal dollars.
It will not be using money from
the general fund.
You get away from the argument
that it is a ding to the
state's coffers at a time when
we might have a deficit at some
time in the future.
It will be readily viewed as a
tax increase.
>> How far can that go?
>> Not very far if it is gauged
that way.
That is a big problem that --
the folks in the legislature so
conservative, black and white,
dogma type issue for
everything, hard for the
hospitals to start to explain
what they need and what the
roll-down effects are of
cutting these people out and
they go to the emergency rooms
and hidden tax -- that is a
hard argument with this
>> As far as tax credits, tax
cuts, just in general, are we
going to see more of that this
go-around or have we seen
enough of that in the past
>> The past batch passed by
Brewer and -- and those are
going into effect.
I don't think there is a big
I don't think tax cuts in
general are going to be a big
issue this time.
>> The chamber luncheon,
governor mentioned simplifying
the tax code.
Tax task force out there, and
got recommendations as well.
Is this a hard charging issue?
Something is going to happen
>> Having a task force
indicates there is some
interest in it.
I am not hearing it around the
legislature in terms of how
much interest.
You have -- cohesive thought
and cohesive idea, there
doesn't seem to be a lot of one
united idea.
I am not sure where we will get
with it this year.
>> Simplifying the tax code
everyone seems to think that is
a good idea.
How far does it go?
>> Everyone thinks it is a
great idea.
You're right about that.
The governor said she is a
woman on a mission on this
particular issue.
We have seen before when the
governor is intent on one
thing, she gets it.
The governor has repeated again
at the chamber luncheon that
this is the one thing that she
really wants to do in the
upcoming session.
She told me the other day that
she has been a public servant
for three decades or so and
this is the one thing that
always gets talked about every
year, but never -- something
that is never really happened.
She wants to complete that.
I think that is one of the
things that she wants to --
>> If you talk about the sales
tax in Arizona, through the
years, we have become quite
dependent on the sales tax,
almost some would argue too
much so.
You better be careful when you
are messing around with
something like that.
>> We have one of the highest
combined sales tax rates in the
country when you combine our
state rate with all of the
local cities.
But this is low-hanging fruit.
I don't think there is a lot of
opposition to this.
Cities want something that
works for them.
Simplifying it, not changing
the rates but making things
It is kind of like this will be
last year's personnel -- I
think she has a good chance of
getting it through but has to
outline something that
everybody can understand and
not get stuck in the weeds too
>> Education, funding formulas
to be met?
>> I don't know.
Yeah, perhaps.
>> I think so.
One thing that they will fund
and I don't think there is
going to be any republican who
would be willing to go out and
say we are not going to fund
even the formula growth.
>> Rejected prop 204 and
rejected it soundly.
Are they going to go in and say
we have a message there, we
need to be careful with this
>> I think people have said,
even those who oppose prop 24,
people voted against the
proposal, not because the money
will go to education because
they think that the money is
not tied to certain things,
reform measures, for example.
Interests that will benefit
from the tax other than the
education community.
People have also said they want
to look at education funding
and tying it to reforms.
The general sentiment,
education community needs
It has been cut during the
recession, and not as much as
the other agencies or programs,
but it has been cut by a lot.
People agree there needs to be
more funding for education.
>> The idea though that more
funding for education.
President BIGGS does not feel
that way, too much
administrative costs and we're
doing pretty well but we need
to fine tune and improve what
we have not necessarily by way
of funding.
He is the president of the
>> That conservative line that
you hear nationally and here in
the state, education spending
and spending per pupil is not a
gauge of test scores -- they
have talked about that.
I think they will do the bare
minimum in terms of education

>> You have these common core
standards, things that teachers
are supposed to hit benchmarks,
schools supposed to hit this,
someone has to assess who is
doing the assessments, it
sounds like more resources will
be needed.
>> Leadership indicated they
would have some interest in
talking about increased funding
for things that have measurable
Kids, test scores, really very
specific things in the
I think we will have a
discussion on that.
There may be a little money
they find for that thing.
>> Dichotomy, more money in the
More money for the students.
More standards and spend more
money to implements the --
>> This legislature has been
willing to put more money for
measurable standards.
If I'm not mistaken, $40
million last year for the 3rd
grade reading requirement that
you have to be able to read by
third grade.
So, even then they had more
conservative legislature, they
have been willing to fund
certain things that can be
measured, and things that they
have mandated the schools to
>> Do you think most folks in
the legislature understand the
common core standards and how
much of a change that will
bring to classrooms in Arizona?
>> That is a very good
>> And that is not much of an
>> I don't think there are many
that grasp that issue.
I don't know who is going to
carry the water for this.
They will not listen to the
democrats very much.
Which republicans will step
forward and -- significantly
changing or -- as far as
education funding.
>> The education committee she
has mentioned advocate for some
of that stuff.
We may see some.
>> As far as immigration
reform -- we are almost out of
time and now we get to
immigration reform.
Such a huge issue in the past.
An issue at all this upcoming
>> I don't think so.
I think everybody is waiting to
see what happens at the
national level.
Governor Brewer could have a
role, but I think it will be a
role in terms of influence,
and, again, at that national
level, people listen to her,
where does she stand on the
But in terms of state
legislation, I don't think we
will see much.
>> I agree.
I don't see this legislature
wading into this issue again.
You will see bills about
But I don't see the appetite to
wade into this debate again.
I think republicans feel they
have done what they could at
the state level, the
sanctions -- state laws being
copied elsewhere in the state.
There is some talk about
driver's license and, you know,
kids who are -- who qualify
under the new immigration
policy, that they could get
drivers license.
We might see some push for that
by some democrats, but I don't
think that the governor would
be willing to sign a bill if
something like that reaches her
>> Voices won't be necessarily
as loud as in the past.
>> I don't think so.
The thing is that their other
big issue that the state has to
deal with and the federal
government, it seems like we
will be the one taking the lead
on the issue --
>> Tourism business coming out
here saying previous
legislation did hurt convention
bookings, did hurt the tourism
business to a certain degree.
Does that play a role?
>> I think it does.
They are convinced it is
hurting -- hurting us going
forward maybe not on the list
for some of the groups coming
out here because of the climate
and politics out here.
Nationally republicans are
looking at how poorly Romney
did with Hispanics in the
campaign and looking at the tea
leaves and demographics going
forward in states like Arizona
and what else can they pass?
They have passed a lot of
There is not a lot of other new
ideas left other than the
drivers license issue.
You can see the legal spats
with the administration, over
1070 and all of the
implementation things but I
don't think you will see a lot
of bills.
>> Very good discussion.
Thank you for joining us.
>>> Monday, a special one hour
edition of "Arizona Horizon,"
governor's state of the state
address in its entirety and
followed by political analysis.
Monday evening, 5:00 p.m.,
earlier start time.
And again at 10:00 p.m. on the
next "Arizona Horizon."
Tuesday we look at one
lawmaker's plan to repeal
Arizona's medical marijuana
Find out where 10 years of
Arizona's bioscience road map
has taken the state.
Latest science news with
Lawrence Krauss.
And Friday, we are back with
another edition of the
"Journalists' Roundtable."
That is it for now.
I'm Ted Simons.
Thank you for joining us.
You have a great weekend.

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