A mid-week legislative update with a reporter from the Arizona Capitol Times.
Ted Simons: More money for cps caseworkers and more money for Arizona's independent redistricting commission to defend itself from lawsuits. For details on those stories and other things happening at the capitol, we welcome Jim Small of the Arizona Capitol Times for our midweek legislative update. Good to see and you thanks for being here. Cps money, fastrack, not a lot of opposition for that?
Jim Small: No, no opposition so far. You know, this is something that the Governor called for in her state of the state address. She asked for -- legislature to give her money to hire 50 new cps case workers.
Ted Simons: And 4.5 million or something along those lines?
Jim Small: Yes, the bills went through the house and the Senate, bills on parallel tracks and they went through the committee today, and sailed through. So, they are expected to go to the floor tomorrow, get debate and had voted on and should be on the Governor's desk by the end of the day.
Ted Simons: By the end of the day tomorrow and signed, I would imagine, quickly. How soon would wee see the caseworkers? The money will go into effect immediately. It will be up to, to the Department of Economic Security, and cps to, to go out and hire those books, and I'm sure that they have got a plan for it. They were anticipating getting this money.
Jim Small: And also, money fastracked for the redistricting commission. I am sure this was not as easy to swallow?
Jim Small: No, these -- they approved the bills, to give $500,000, excuse me, to the independent redistricting commission to, to fund one of the three lawsuits it has coming up and, and get it, basically, through, you know, the end of March. It's what this money is designed to do, as it, was they were going to run out of money at the end of February, and, you know, the commission testified today that ok, this is a nice first step, but, we're going to be back for more. We need more money because we have other bills that are due, and the money, basically, pays for, for a, a trial that begins in March 25th, trial in Federal Court about the, the legislative lines that were drawn in 2011.
Ted Simons: And this is something that -- I know the IRS was saying, basically, as you mentioned, this is nice, not as much as they were asking for?
Jim Small: No, they asked for 2.25 million, which included some, some money maybe that, you know, it seems that they put in there as a way to let the legislature take some of that money away. And, and they would not be left hurting, you know, they included 800,000 to draw new maps, and in case, just in case the court comes back and says, you need to draw new maps, and they included 500,000 in that request as just kind of a cost overrun, basically, and kind of a cushion, so, you know, the 1.3 of that is money that maybe would not necessarily have to be used. So, I would imagine the legislature when they come back will, will keep that in mind and will give them another 500,000 or 600, 000.
Ted Simons: So it does not make it easy, if you want the more money, come back and hand and hand and we'll see what we can do?
Jim Small: But the one thing that, that is true about this, that's interesting, the legislature is not going to not give them the money.
Ted Simons: Right.
Jim Small: They are constitutionally obligate to find it, and they know that, and you know, they have haded this discussion last year and decided after they posture a bit about it, and decided well, we're going to back down because we're going to lose this lawsuit if we go to court.
Ted Simons: All right, it sounds like anti-union bills are again, a hot topic at the capitol, and I know that we went through this last session, and what's the difference this go around?
Jim Small: The difference this time is, is really, the difference, I think, that we are going to see all year, which is a different makeup of the legislature. You know. Don't have the legislative supermajorities, or Republican supermajorities where they have an iron clad control. You have a new crop of legislators and three union bills that went through, heard yesterday in the house Government committee, and one of them passed. One of them failed. And then the sponsor of the third one realized that they did not super the votes on the third one so they held it in discussion, but an interesting thing that happened was, was the Democrats tried to basically use a Parliamentary maneuver to, to kill for good, the bill that failed. And it backfired on them because the Republicans, who had voted against it, there were two Republicans on the panel who voted against one of the bills, and they decided that, that, they did not really like the tactic the Democrats were using so they voted to keep it alive, send it to the floor and move through the process, and both of them said that they are not -- as it stands they would not vote for the bill but they were, out of respect for the sponsor and for the chairman, and disrespect for the Democrats, who are going to vote to keep it alive.
Ted Simons: Isn't that interesting, now, which one, the one regarding all city council and county boards have to vote on paycheck deduction, up or down?
Jim Small: That one got up.
Ted Simons: Which one didn't make it?
Ted Simons: It's the same three, and it's just -- there is no compensation, got to make it public, and you have to, to vote to authorize paycheck deductions by the end of the year.
Jim Small: And we'll see, last year, these ideas, these anti-union legislation, you know, the components of the legislation, didn't really find a welcomed landing spot in the house. And, you know, this year, there is fewer Republicans, and you still have generally the same leadership, certainly, in house speaker Andy Tobin, so if they couldn't find it last year, whether they can find it now, that not only have, you know, they have 30, 37 house Republicans, I don't know that they will be able to do this.
Ted Simons: And I should mention again, these are all pushed by the goldwater institute.
Jim Small: All of them except for the up or down vote by city council. That one is not endorsed.
Ted Simons: But that was similar to this kind of an out-right ban or something like that from last year?
Jim Small: Right, and the goldwater institute has that, similar bills in the house and Senate back.
Ted Simons: Before you go, the budget, obviously, it's always there, and all the time. What are you hearing? Anything, any closing of the gaps or is it just, just --
Jim Small: Not yet. Right now, we're still kind of in the early stages, you know, Republicans, you know, I think it was last week, we had discussions about the plan, and where they see the budget and revenues, and I think right now we're highlighting differences between what the Governor wants and what the, the Republican-controlled legislature would like and, and in the next few weeks they will have conversation, and things will start to pick up. But, if we are going to talk about 100-day session, the goal, probably be around day 75 or 80. When the talks really kind of get going and, and, you know in a meaningful capacity.
Ted Simons: real quickly here, as far as the immigration proposals, we'll talk more about this but what reaction from the Governor or the legislature?
Jim Small: Well, they said more about it in the legislature as a whole. In the legislature, you had partisan lines. Democrats have been optimistic about the bipartisan gang of eight immigration proposal from the U.S. Senate, and really, like what the President had to say yesterday. And Republicans have been a lot, a lot more muted on, on it, and I think that, that one of the things that you hear from, from a lot of Republicans and, and Governor brewer, certainly, is no exception in this, is that they want to make sure that there is border security. That really is truly going to be addressed in whatever happens. And, and, you know, she brought out a statement the other day talking backs and not really taking a stand on it saying, we need to see more details, which is understandable. This was just kind of the framework of an agreement. And the devil is always in the details in these things.
Ted Simons: All right. Good to see you and thanks for joining us.