School Safety Legislation

More from this show

Republican State Senator Rich Crandall and Democratic State Representative Chad Campbell discuss their different approaches to gun and school safety legislation.

Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Another school shooting, this time at a community college near Houston. Three people were reported injured. The school says that the shooting was between two people, and the situation is now under control. This is the latest in a string of shootings that has public officials waiting for ways to improve school safety. The outcry escalated in December when 20, first graders and six educators were shot and killed on the campus of an elementary school in newtown, Connecticut. Here in Arizona, state lawmakers are proposing a variety of ways to deal with the problem. Everything from banning high capacity magazines to arming school staff. Tonight we hear from two lawmakers with different approaches to the issue. Republican Senator Rich Crandall and democratic representative Chad Campbell. The house Minority Leader. Good to see you here. Senator, we'll start with you. Give us generalities here and we'll focus here as the time goes on.

Rich Crandall: One of the big issues that we found with funding for school resource officers is the ability to perpetuate that funding when it's tied to the general fund. It's easy to cut.

Ted Simons: And that's what you are looking at. Is it a question more of paying for things? Or getting things done?

Rich Crandall: It's a little of both. Let's find a dedicated revenue stream to pay for the resource officers, and then the one area where representative Campbell and I agree, you need to do something with mental health and school counselors to make it happen.

Ted Simons: Ok, overview of your idea?

Chad Campbell: My idea is a three-pronged approach, it's school safety, funding, school resource officers, and school safety programs, and as rich said, funding more counselors, and we tackle the mental health issue, in terms of funding, actual mentally ill folks, giving them the programmatic help they need. And I also add something that's common sense, gun law reforms which are aimed at making sure the wrong people don't get access to firearms.

Ted Simons: Police officers in the schools, your thoughts?

Chad Campbell: Again, as long as they are part of the school resource officer program, I've been supportive of that, and I'm fully supportive of it, and I think that both of us are. And we want to fund it. We, actually, both have similar funding levels, different mechanisms and the Governor is lower than both of us.

Ted Simons: Talk about the idea of school resource officers as legitimate police officers on campus.

Rich Crandall: Right now, we have 104 officers funded through the state, and another couple hundred funded through municipalities and school districts and a partnership. But we have about 2,200 schools so we have 300, sros, and 2,200 schools, you could see the challenge, so we propose different ways to increase the number of school resource officers, and we're forced by a guy named Kevin quinn, the national President of the school resource's officer association, is here to help us.

Ted Simons: The idea of mental health services, I think, is 4.5 million. Your idea there, what kind of services are we talking about?

Rich Crandall: One of the things, magellan is launching a partnership with school districts across maricopa county. And where two things, when you train counselors what to look for, train teachers and administrators, what are the signs that somebody maybe trending down that path, and what do you do about it. They have a rapid response team, magellan does, where they will send counselors. Their response time is 20 minutes to get someone to a school to help with that issue.

Ted Simons: So in terms of training and looking out for certain signs and signals. Something tangible is there but it's a question of whether the resources are there to put them in practice?

Rich Crandall: It's brand new, and right now, if you ask anyone across Arizona, what are we doing for mental health, detection and intervention, there is not a lot on the table.

Ted Simons: What you think of mental health service?

Chad Campbell: Lacking severely in this state. We have been for some time, be it Medicaid services, be it non Medicaid services, which have been underfunded for some time, and my proposal calls for fully funding the seriously mentally ill programs for the non Medicaid services, which has been an ongoing lawsuit, that would cost us $23 million. But you do that and you get Medicaid expansion, which the Governor is pursuing, both those taken care of, and you are providing safety net now for all the people in the state that really need those mental health care providers and that attention. And I think that, too, again, we both agree on school counselors and increasing the number, I go further. I want to double the school counselors here, and it's going to cost us money. My proposal is 20 million of the next three years, and to double the number of counselors in the state, be one of the worst ratios in the country.

Ted Simons: The overall plan would cost 261 million. Has, is that accurate?

Chad Campbell: no, 100 million so the 161 million is in essence, the Medicaid expansion, I included that as the need for the approach. But it's 100 million, and I propose variety of funding sources, basically, closing tax credits that are not working and closing tax loopholes, and taking bit of our general fund surplus that we have, which is about 725 million.

Ted Simons: That's four times what you are calling for here. What's going on, what's the difference?

Rich Crandall: We keep calling Chad the quarter million dollar man. We love it. [Laughter]

Rich Crandall: If you chart the funding for school resource officers, the only funding that has been protected is the, the position for 7.8 million in prop 301 that the voters approved. That's the only portion that stayed consistent. We have cut all general funds, if you are going to rely on the general fund it is just disappear.

Ted Simons: So you are relying on things like, clean elections funding?

Rich Crandall: When the, the court struck down matching funds for clean election, it freed up money. They have had 40 million they have given to the fund over the last three years, and go into the voters and ask them, would you rather have that available for politicians to send out more negative post-cards or how about we use it for school safety?

Ted Simons: Another idea was the, to transfer tax for private auto sales. What's that?

Rich Crandall: If we cannot do anything with clean election, one idea that people came up with we're one of six states that does not have any kind of a fee on the transfer of a private automobile.

Ted Simons: And another idea was increasing the alcohol tax?

Rich Crandall: There was a group that brought that forward. None of those are popular. The most popular was the diversion of clean elections funding.

Ted Simons: What about on your side?

Chad Campbell: If the Senator Crandall wants to raise taxes, more power to him. I want to end bad tax programs, one of the worst ones that we have is the organization tax credit. We have seen the abuses. We know it's being abused, and we have had media articles for quite some time now, that this money is being diverted away, from public schools and the private schools, and being used in what is amounting to horse training system between families that don't need the money. Let's divert some of that money back to the public schools, and let's close the bad tax credits that exist in our tpt code, and we can fund these programs.

Ted Simons: But how viable is something like that? The sdo program has been looked at up, down, and sideways, the problems have been amplified and we have talked about them. The problems are shown and the program is enhanced.

Chad Campbell: And that's -- my job is not to figure out what is viable with the Tea Party. My job is to figure out when is viable in terms of good public policy, and closing the system that is corrupt and has been proven, it's being abused and not benefiting lower income families, as it should be, and diverting that go money back to, to traditional schools and school safety. To me it's a no brainer. We need to look at this program and reinvent it.

Ted Simons: Are you readied to streamline this, and you lob off high edges? Viability is a factor.

Chad Campbell: I will work with anybody, and rich and I got elected the same time. I think that we both work with people down there. And I am willing to work with anybody down there to get something through to improve the safety of the schools.

Ted Simons: What about arming school staff?

Rich Crandall: Let's talk about that. There's been some misconceptions there, you know, they won't just let anyone carry a gun, I'm not ready for that leap. What I am ready to duplicate what's been done successful until Texas for the last five years. And here's what it is. If you are a rural school, under 500 kids, you are 30 minutes from the closest police or sheriff's office. You are at least 20 miles, the school board -- there is a whole series of, of parameters. But hey, you bet. We'll allow you to arm a teacher if you are in that isolated situation.

Ted Simons: So it's become a population question under an equation that deals with how many are in the area and how close the nearest --

Rich Crandall: It becomes -- everybody says, don't worry, the police can respond to, in three minutes, not in Arizona. They can't.

Ted Simons: What about arming school staff and teachers? On college campuses? What about arming everyone?

Chad Campbell: I think that this is a really bad idea, and I have yet to find an adequate answer to the question I am about to ask, which is what happens the first time we have a teacher accidentally shot a kid or another teacher or a parent, and what happens the first time that take place. The liability issues alone, I think, would make this unrealistic for most school districts. And we just saw a case in Michigan where they had a, they had hired a security guard who left his gun in the bathroom and a student found it. We cannot have those types of incidents occurring here in Arizona. We need trained law enforcement, maybe not in every school, we cannot afford that, but we need to make sure that the schools have the tools they need to make it safer, not create more complications.

Rich Crandall: The idea of guns on campus, especially on college campuses. Your thoughts?

Chad Campbell: Not a fan of that. It's interesting in the shooting today in Houston, innocent bystanders were hit with that gunfire. And I think just having bunch of guns, on college campuses is not a path that I would go.

Ted Simons: And but, again, there are a lot of folks down there who see this as a, it's been floated through the legislature before. How would you feel about those bills?

Rich Crandall: The first bill had the restrictions on it that went up to the Governor and they said these are so big. If I sign this bill I am not sure what I'm signing, so she vetoed that, and when it came through again, it was kind of, an all or nothing, the bill died. And they will have to bring some thoughtful legislation before they get enough votes for it to pass.

Ted Simons: But, if you support those bills?

Rich Crandall: I support the first one, not the second.

Ted Simons: Ok. What is going to be done regarding the idea of -- we are going to see it. We're going to see it, and we'll see a lot of t is there compromise there? Is there an understanding that this makes -- and again, regardless of what you do, the Governor is going to have to sign off on it, as well.

Chad Campbell: And you know, I don't know if there is compromise around arming teachers. For me, that's just a non starter for me. Again, I think what we need to be doing is it focusing on making sure the schools go through a planning process and get the funds for an sro or maybe upgrade their facilities with cameras, gates, whatever if may be, which is all included in my plan. But, we cannot, again, we cannot give untrained people weapons on these campuses, be it grade schools, high schools or colleges, and create a more dangerous situation for the people on campus, as well as the first responders in terms of law enforcement, or, or emergency personnel.

Ted Simons: Your plan goes further as far as gun control. No large capacity, I mean, the --

Chad Campbell: That's not mine.

Ted Simons: Ok.

Chad Campbell: Here's what mine does. Very simply mine does this, it requires universal background collection for gun shows. Requires background checks on private to private sales of assault weapons, but if you are selling a hunting rifle, you don't have to go through a background check. Prevents anybody going through mental health treatment voluntarily from getting a weapon, and makes sure that you restate the ccw, the conceal and carry program and the cops taking weapons off the streets can destroy those.

Ted Simons: And training for the ccw -- yes.

Chad Campbell: All those, what do you think?

Rich Crandall: Here's the bottom line, when, as an elected official I have to step back and say, what has a realistic possibility of passing the legislature? That's not going to pass. The 261 million, 100 million, will not pass. The Governor put in her budget $3.6 billion for resource officers. That's all that she felt that she could get. So, I come along with a bill that's $30 million, goes through election, allows for this and this. I think that I can get that through with 16 senators and 31 house members. These other ideas are not going to pass in Arizona this year.

Ted Simons: So the idea of background checks for gun shows, personal, person-to-person, assault weapons checks, training for conceal weapons, no chance?

Rich Crandall: Has no chance. Now, will we get universal background checks? I believe that we will in the next few months. And so, despite my personal belief on universal background checks, I don't think that it's right for everybody, regardless of the background and their mental state to go into a gun show and buy whatever they want. And you are going to see limits put on that, but it's not going to be in a bill in the Arizona legislature this year.

Ted Simons: Are we going to see, compromise, public discussion. Is this going to go pretty far and pretty deep, or going to be one of the black and white dea;s.

Rich Crandall: You have the right questions.

Chad Campbell: It will be black and whited. The feds will be the ones to intervene here in Arizona.

Ted Simons: What do you think?

Chad Campbell: We need to do something at a state level. A lot of these issues have to be done at both the Federal and the state level. Some need to be done at the Federal level. And again, my point, and introducing this bill, was to try to create a constructive conversation, which we're having today, and that's the key. We're having a constructive conversation, not talking about the bills nullifying Federal law, which are ridiculous and going to have no meaning, and requiring Federal firearms dealers. That would be illegal from day one. These are at least ideas that I think that we all agree have merit and, and maybe get traction. It may not be the bill I proposed or the bill you proposed, but let's do something this session to get the job done.

Ted Simons: We'll watch for that, good to have you here.

Rich Crandall: Appreciate the time.

Rich Crandall:State Senator, Republican; Chad Campbell:State Representative, Democrat;

Illustration of columns of a capitol building with text reading: Arizona PBS AZ Votes 2024

Arizona PBS presents candidate debates

An armed forces bugler playing the trumpet in front of the United States Capitol building.
aired May 26

National Memorial Day Concert 2024

Graphic for the AZPBS kids LEARN! Writing Contest with a child sitting in a chair writing on a table and text reading: The Ultimate Field Trip
May 26

Submit your entry for the 2024 Writing Contest

Rachel Khong
May 29

Join us for PBS Books Readers Club!

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters

STAY in touch

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: