Legislative Update

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Join us for our weekly update from the Capitol with a reporter from the Arizona Capitol Times.

Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. There are signs that the legislature is getting restless over the pace of budget negotiations. Here to tell us more in our weekly legislative update With the Arizona capitol Times is cap times reporter Luige del Puerto . What is going on down there?

Luige del Puerto: Legislature has a self-imposed 100 day deadline to end the session. The Senate president Biggs had been optimistic that they would reach the deadline and get out of here in a short while. Yesterday -- I'm sorry, this morning when I spoke with him he did not sound very optimistic at all. I asked him why? He said it is essentially about the budget discussions. Some days he feels like they're making progress and moving ahead, and on some days he doesn't think there is much progress. Today is one of those days. In addition to that, we have been hearing from rank and file members expressing concerns about essentially the lack of progress. There has not been to their minds a ramping up those discussions of budget negotiations that you would see or they would love to see at this point in the session.

Ted Simons: Not really any sense of urgency going on.

Luige del Puerto: So far none. And that -- to -- many members I had spoken to, some privately, basically said we should be ramping up those discussions between the governor's office and the state legislature and they're not seeing that yet.

Ted Simons: Let's talk about the Medicaid expansion idea. I know there is controversy there. I'm guessing all sides not seeing the same thing.

Luige del Puerto: No, of course not. As you know, the governor has been courting the republican districts at the county and legislative district levels, and essentially trying to convince them to rally behind her proposal. What is happening seems to be that the opponents of the plan are the ones that are getting ahead in persuading the districts and the counties. In fact, we have -- we are now beginning to see the districts and the counties approving resolutions basically saying, Mrs. Governor, we don't want you to go ahead and expand Medicaid.

Ted Simons: With that in mind -- she had a rally down there at the capitol, didn't she, with a bunch of health providers and doctors and such?

Luige del Puerto: Yes. And she has been going out, been trying to get the public to get behind this proposal. The potential complications for the governor is that if the district PC -- the guys that do all of the work actively, active at the grass roots level -- if they come out and say we don't want you to go ahead -- we don't want you to expand Medicaid, potentially that could -- that could have an impact on the votes of republicans who might be supportive of the proposal.

Ted Simons: Let's talk about the votes. We can't figure out whether legislatures need the two-thirds majority on this or not whether it is a tax or assessment.

Luige del Puerto: That is certainly a part of the discussion right now. For those who are opposing the proposal, they are saying, you know what, if at the end of the day you are going to vote on this Medicaid expansion, we want to remind you that this requires a two-thirds vote. This is what the constitution says. This is a proposition 108 issue. It will be a tax, provider, assessment fee, it will be a tax. If you are getting revenues -- if you are increasing revenues as a result, it will be a tax and as a result, this should require two-thirds vote.

Ted Simons: What about the sales tax, her idea of revamping and streamlining the sales tax? Cities and towns not happy about that. What is going on there?

Luige del Puerto: There has been a significant development in this issue. Last Friday, the governor's office had offered a proposal to the mayors to try and address their concerns about the potential hit of the -- to their bottom line. What the governor is proposing is a bifurcated system where on the one hand the state will eliminate the investigation of prime contracting, sticking issue -- one of the sticking issues up to this point, and ensure that the material, the tax on the materials would be paid at the point of sale. For example, if you are a subcontractor, you are buying roles and roles of carpets for example or kitchen material. You will be paying the tax at the point of sale. At the home depot, at the store where you are buying it. Statement the -- at the same time, governor is still allowing the cities to -- the way it is envisioned, once a subcontractor has completed the work, let's say a kitchen, the cost of that will be folded into the overall cost of the house and the city will be able to tax the -- that amount, the construction costs.

Ted Simons: So, that sounds like it is not quite as streamline as originally intended.

Luige del Puerto: In some ways it bifurcates the system. Now all of the taxes would be collected at the point of sale. I would say this is major concession on the governor's part.

Ted Simons: It sounds like there is a lot going on. Even if much is not going on.

Luige del Puerto: That's true.

Ted Simons: Thank you for joining us. We appreciate it.

Luige del Puerto: Thank you.

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