Capitol Update

More from this show

We hear from legislative leaders about the latest bills and issues from the state capitol.

TED SIMONS: COMING UP NEXT ON "ARIZONA HORIZON" IS A PLAN TO BETTER FUND UNIVERSITIES TAKING SHAPE? WE'LL FIND OUT IN OUR LEGISLATIVE UPDATE. AND WORLD-RENOWNED PHYSICIST LAWRENCE KRAUSS HAS THE LATEST SCIENCE NEWS INCLUDING THE POSSIBILITY OF LIFE ON A DISTANT PLANET AND A NEARBY MOON. THOSE STORIES NEXT, ON ARIZONA HORIZON. ARIZONA IS MADE POSSIBLE BY MEMBERS OF YOUR PBS STATION. THANK YOU.

TED SIMONS: GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO ARIZONA HORIZON. I'M TED SIMONS.

TED SIMONS: EACH WEEK WE WELCOME LEGISLATIVE LEADERS FOR AN UPDATE OF ISSUES AT THE STATE CAPITOL. THIS WEEK IT'S THE DEMOCRATS' TURN WITH EDUCATION FUNDING STILL FRONT AND CENTER. INCLUDING THE POSSIBILITY THAT DEMOCRATS COULD BE WORKING WITH THE GOVERNOR ON A PLAN TO BETTER FUND UNIVERSITIES. JOINING US NOW SENATE MINORITY LEADER KATIE HOBBS AND HOUSE MINORITY LEADER REBECCA RIOS. GOOD TO SEE YOU BOTH BACK AGAIN. DEMOCRATS WORKING WITH THE GOVERNOR ON A POSSIBLE UNIVERSITY BONDING PLAN. FIRST OF ALL. ARE YOU WORKING WITH THE GOVERNOR?

KATIE HOBBS: WELL, WE LET THE GOVERNOR KNOW THAT WE SUPPORT THE PROPOSAL. HE'S HAVING TROUBLE WITH GETTING ENOUGH REPUBLICAN SUPPORT TO PASS IT. IF HE NEEDS OUR VOTES, THEN WE HAVE TALKED TO HIM ABOUT IT.

TED SIMONS: THE PROPOSAL NOT AS HE WANTS IT. CORRECT? THE IDEA OF TAKING SALES TAXES FROM COMMUNITIES AND TOWNS, YOU ARE NOT GOING ALONG WITH THAT PART?

KATIE HOBBS: SURE, ABSOLUTELY AND WE HAVE BEEN VERY CLEAR ABOUT THAT. THE UNIVERSITIES HAVE BEEN HIT HARD OVER THE LAST SEVERAL YEARS AND SO HAVE COMMUNITIES AND TOWNS AND WE DON'T WANT TO PARTICIPATE IN PITTING THOSE TWO ENTITIES AGAINST EACH OTHER.

TED SIMONS: IS THERE A PLAN THEN. SIMILAR TO THE GOVERNOR'S THAT DOESN'T REDIRECT SALES TAXES?

REBECCA RIOS: WELL WE ARE NOT REAL SURE WHAT THE PLAN LOOKS LIKE AT THIS POINT. RUMOR ARE THAT WE'LL SEE THE BUDGET NEXT WEEK. I HAD AN OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK TO OUR SPEAKER WHO INDICATED THERE IS FIRM OPPOSITION IN HIS HOUSE MEMBERS FOR ANY BONDING PROPOSAL. AFTER HEARING THAT LAST WEEK, I DID GIVE THE GOVERNOR A CALL ON HIS CELLPHONE. I'M STILL WAITING FOR A RESPONSE. I BASICALLY LET HIM KNOW WE WERE THERE. AS SENATOR HUBS INDICATED, AS LONG AS THAT TPT FROM CITIES AND COUNTIES IS EXCLUDED, DEMOCRATS ARE WILLING TO LOOK AT THE ISSUE. WE ARE PROBABLY MORE SUPPORTIVE OF BONDING THAN THE DIRECT APPROPRIATION. BECAUSE IF IT IS JUST A DIRECT APPROPRIATION, WHICH IS WHAT I AM HEARING IS BEING PROPOSED BY SOME REPUBLICANS, THERE IS NO GUARANTEE THEY ARE GOING TO PAY THAT YEARS TWO, THREE, FOUR AND ON DOWN. THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS, OVER THE LAST DECADE, REPUBLICANS HAVE CUT UNIVERSITY FUNDING FOR CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS AND BUILDINGS BY $600 MILLION. SO, EVEN THOUGH IT LOOKS LIKE THE GOVERNOR IS DOING SOMETHING GOOD, IN ESSENCE IT'S REALLY JUST PUTTING A BANDAID AND PUTTING BACK WHAT WE SHORTCHANGED THEM THE LAST DECADE.

TED SIMONS: THE GOVERNOR'S ORIGINAL PLAN AS FAR AS YOU CAN TELL, DEAD IN THE WATER?

KATIE HOBBS: I THINK THE ENTIRE PLAN IS DEAD IN THE WATER. IT WAS ROUGHLY $36.5 MILLION OF TPT THAT THE UNIVERSITIES CAN HOLD ON TO INSTEAD OF GIVING TO THE STATE. SEVEN OR SO OF THAT WAS STATE SHARED REVENUE THAT GOES TO CITIES AND COUNTIES. IF YOU SPLIT THAT APART AND DON'T TAKE THE MONEY FROM CITIES AND COUNTIES, THEN WE ARE IN THEORY SUPPORTIVE OF THE REST OF THAT PACKAGE.

TED SIMONS: INCLUDING BONDING?

KATIE HOBBS: YES.

TED SIMONS: BUT IT SOUNDS AS SO REPUBLICANS DON'T WANT TO SEE BONDING. SO, WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

KATIE HOBBS: THE QUESTION IS ARE THERE ENOUGH REPUBLICANS THAT SUPPORT IT THAT IF DEMOCRATS VOTED FOR THIS PLAN THAT IT COULD GET THROUGH.

TED SIMONS: MUST THE BONDING PLAN BE SEPARATE FROM THE BUDGET? HOW DOES THIS HAVE TO WORK?

REBECCA RIOS: WELL TYPICALLY THE BUDGET IS COMPRISED OF EIGHT OR TEN DIFFERENT BILLS. THE BONDING ISSUE WOULD PROBABLY BE IN WHAT'S CALLED THE HIGHER ED RECONCILIATION BILL. IF IT WAS BONDING AS SENATOR HOBBES INDICATED WITHOUT THE CITIES AND TOWNS REVENUE, THEY COULD GET DEMOCRATS SUPPORT AND WE WOULD VOTE FOR THAT BILL OF THE BUDGET. THE QUESTION IS, WOULD THE SPEAKER OR PRESIDENT EVEN ALLOW A BILL OUT KNOWING THAT THEY NEEDED DEMOCRAT VOTES TO PASS IT? MY CONCERN IS NO. THEY WANT THIS TO BE CLEAN, REPUBLICAN SUPPORTED BILLS. I WOULD ASSUME THE GOVERNOR WOULD LIKE TO BE ABLE TO SAY HE PASSED A BI-PARTISAN BUDGET. IT BEHOOVES HIM TO GIVE US A CALL AND NEGOTIATE WITH US.

TED SIMONS: HOW UNITED ARE DEMOCRATS? LET'S SAY THE GOVERNOR CALLS YOU BACK, I'M WILLING TO TALK ABOUT THIS. CONSIDERING VOUCHERS, CONSIDERING A LOT OF OTHER TENSE EMOTIONS DOWN THERE, HOW UNITED ARE DEMOCRATS ON THIS?

KATIE HOBBS: WE ARE CONSIDERING THIS COMPLETELY SEPARATE OF THE VOUCHER ISSUE. CERTAINLY WE ARE MORE THAN UNHAPPY ABOUT THAT BILL. HOWEVER, I THINK TO PIT THAT AGAINST THIS ISSUE, WE ARE NOT DOING THAT.

TED SIMONS: SAME QUESTION IN THE HOUSE.

REBECCA RIOS: ABSOLUTELY NOT. THAT'S PETTY. AT THE END OF DAY, DEMOCRATS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN SUPPORTIVE OF UNIVERSITY FUNDING. WE DON'T LIKE ESA'S AND WE DON'T LIKE WHAT THEY HAVE DONE WITH TANF, BUT WE HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO ADDRESS EACH VIEW INDIVIDUALLY. WE ARE DOING THAT.

TED SIMONS: WHAT ARE YOU HEARING FROM THE UNIVERSITIES? WHAT ARE THEY TELLING YOU?

REBECCA RIOS: THE UNIVERSITIES HAVE BEEN MEETING WITH MEMBERS - AGAIN, THE LAST TIME I SPOKE TO THEM IT WAS STILL THE BONDING PROPOSAL ACKNOWLEDGING MAYBE THE SAME CITIES AND TOWNS PORTIONS WOULD BE OUT. THEY ARE SELLING THE NEED FOR IT, AND WHAT CONSTRUCTION NEEDS THEY HAVE AND WHAT THEY WOULD DO WITH IT.

TED SIMONS: BONDING OVER SINGLE APPROPRIATION?

REBECCA RIOS: THE LAST TIME I SPOKE TO THEM.

TED SIMONS: WHAT ABOUT YOU?

KATIE HOBBS: I HAVE NOT TALKED TO ANYONE ABOUT JUST A STRAIGHT APPROPRIATION. I THINK THERE ARE PROBLEMS WITH THAT AS REPRESENTATIVE RIOS ALREADY MENTIONED IN TERMS OF THAT BEING AN ONGOING APPROPRIATION. YEAH, I THINK THEY HAVE TALKED TO US ABOUT THE NEED FOR IT AND THEN JUST TRYING TO CALCULATE WHERE PEOPLE ARE ON THEIR VOTES. IF THAT WAS A STAND ALONE OR PART OF A HIGHER ED BERB THAT WAS PALATABLE TO US WITH THE REST OF THE CONTENTS.

TED SIMONS: ANOTHER EDUCATION ISSUE. I NOTICED U.S. WORLD AND WORLD REPORT HAD FIVE OF THE TOP TEN HIGH SCHOOLS IN THE UNITED STATES LISTED. TOP TEN, I SHOULD SAY, IN THE UNITED STATES. FIVE OF THEM WERE IN ARIZONA. THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE, REPUBLICANS ARE SAYING, THIS IS WHY YOU NEED TO REWARD THESE SCHOOLS TO GET THESE IDEAS OUT THERE AND GET MONEY TO PLACES THAT ARE WORKING. FIVE OUT OF THE TOP TEN IN THE UNITED STATES. WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THIS?

KATIE HOBBS: I THINK THAT THOSE FIVE OF THE TOP TEN SCHOOLS ARE NOT REPRESENTATIVE OF THE EDUCATIONAL ENVIRONMENT IN ARIZONA. THEIR STUDENT POPULATION IS NOT REFLECTIVE OF THE GENERAL POPULATION IN ARIZONA. THE REPUBLIC DID AN ANALYSIS OF THE GOVERNOR'S FUNDING PLAN. 65% WOULD GO TO THE RICHEST SCHOOLS THAT DON'T NEED THE THAT FUNDING. IT'S A SCHEME THAT WOULD REWARD SCHOOLS AND STUDENTS THAT DON'T NEED IT INSTEAD OF EQUITABLE FUNDING SO THE SCHOOLS THAT NEED MORE HELP CAN DO BETTER.

TED SIMONS: THESE ARE ALL BASIS SCHOOLS. IT'S A CHARTER SCHOOL THAT HAS A RELATIVELY SMALL POPULATION. THEY ARE HIGH ACHIEVERS, THEY LOCATED IN GOOD PARTS OF TOWN, ETC. THE BASIS FOLKS ARE SAY THE MODEL CAN WORK WITH MORE DIVERSE STUDENTS IN MORE DIVERSE AREAS. ARE THEY WRONG?

REBECCA RIOS: I THINK WHAT YOU HAVE TO RECOGNIZE AND NOT TAKING AWAY THE ACHIEVEMENTS THE BASIS HAS MADE AND WE CELEBRATE THOSE STUDENTS SUCCESSES, BUT THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS THIS IS NOT STABLE FOR THE ENTIRE STATE OF ARIZONA. YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT A CHARTER SCHOOL THAT CAN IN EFFECTIVELY CHERRY PICK THE STUDENTS THEY WANT TO HAVE. I THINK THERE WAS A STUDY OR SOME INFORMATION THAT THE BASIS OF NORTH TUCSON, THE KIDS THAT ENTERED THAT BASIS AT SEVENTH GRADE, THERE WERE 130 OF THEM, BY THE TIME GRADUATION CAME ONLY 54 OF THEM HAD GRADUATED. SO THROUGH ATTRITION OR DROPPING OUT YOU ARE LOSING THOSE OTHER KIDS. WHY? I THINK THAT SKEWS THE ACHIEVEMENT. AGAIN, AT THE END OF THE DAY, THIS IS NOT SUSTAINABLE FOR ALL STUDENTS BECAUSE CAN THEY PROVIDE SERVICES FOR SPECIAL NEEDS, FOR DEVELOPMENTALLY DISABLED. THOSE ARE REQUIREMENTS. PUBLIC SCHOOLS HAVE TO. CHARTER SCHOOLS DO NOT.

TED SIMONS: FOR RESULTS BASED FUNDING IN GENERAL, IS THAT AN OPTION AT ALL?

KATIE HOBBS: I JUST DON'T THINK IT IS A GOOD IDEA. IT'S NOT SOMETHING THAT THE EDUCATION COMMUNITY IS ASKING FOR. IT DOESN'T ADDRESS A NEED IN OUR SCHOOLS. IN OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS. SO, IF THERE IS EXTRA MONEY TO SPEND, I'M NOT SURE HOW MUCH IS IN THE PROPOSAL, $38 MILLION OR SOMETHING, THIS CAN BE USED TO MAKE OUR PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM STRONGER.

TED SIMONS: AND YET THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE SAYS THE STATUS QUO FUNDS FAILURE. DO THEY HAVE A POINT?

REBECCA RIOS: THIS RESULTS BASED FUNDING IS FUNDEMENTALY FLAWED BECAUSE IN ESSENCE, WHAT THEY ARE DOING IS PICKING WINNERS AND LOSERS AND YOU'RE DIRECTING MORE REVENUE TOWARDS HIGHER ACHIEVING SCHOOLS AT THE EXPENSE OF THOSE SCHOOLS THAT CLEARLY NEED THE ASSISTANCE. IT DEFIES LOGIC THAT WE ARE GOING TO FURTHER PUNISH AND STARVE THOSE SCHOOLS THAT ARE STRUGGLING MOST SO WE CAN GIVE MORE FUNDS TO THOSE SCHOOLS THAT ARE ALREADY ACHIEVING. WHERE ARE THESE SCHOOLS? MANY OF US THAT A LOT OF THESE LOWER RATED SCHOOLS THAT AREN'T GOING TO RECEIVE THIS ADDITIONAL FUNDING ARE IN LOWER INCOME COMMUNITIES. IT IS INEQUITABLE AND OVER ALL, IT'S A VERY FLAWED PROPOSAL THAT WILL CONTINUE TO FUND SCHOOLS THAT ARE ALREADY DOING WELL, MAY PREDOMINANTLY BE IN HIGHER INCOME AREAS TO THE DETRIMENT OF PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS.

TED SIMONS: HELPING THESE SCHOOLS THAT ARE ALREADY DOING WELL. THE GOVERNOR SAYS RECOGNITION OF HAVING FIVE OUT OF THE TOP TEN IS GREAT IN TERMS OF ATTRACTING BUSINESS AND MAKING ARIZONA LOOK GOOD. AGAIN, DOES HE HAVE A POINT?

KATIE HOBBS: THE EDUCATION CLIMATE IS SOMETHING BUSINESSES LOOK AT MOVING TO OUR STATE, BUT AGAIN, THOSE SCHOOLS THAT ARE ON THE LIST ARE NOT REPRESENTATIVE OF THE EDUCATION SYSTEM IN ARIZONA.

REBECCA RIOS: I JUST WANT TO ADD, I THINK WE GET DISTRACTED LOOKING AT BASIS. AT THE END OF THE DAY, THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS, ARIZONA PAYS THE LOWEST TEACHER SALARY IN THE NATION. ARIZONA IS DEAD LAST IN PER-PUPIL FUNDING. WE HAVE SCHOOLS THAT ARE CRUMBLING, WE HAVE CLASSES THAT ARE OVER SIZED. THESE TYPES OF IDEAS ARE A DISTRACTION TO THE FACT THAT WE ARE NOT PROPERLY FUNDING PUBLIC EDUCATION IN GENERAL. IF WE WERE, WE WOULDN'T HAVE TO DO GAME PLAYING OF PITTING SCHOOLS AGAINST EACH OTHER FOR ADDITIONAL REVENUE.

TED SIMONS: REAL QUICKLY, YES OR NO, ANY IDEA IF THE PLAN HAS ENOUGH VOTES TO PASS IN THE HOUSE?

REBECCA RIOS: CLEARLY IT DOES NOT HAVE DEMOCRAT VOTES. I DON'T KNOW ABOUT REPUBLICANS.

TED SIMONS: WHAT DO YOU THINK IN THE SENATE?

KATIE HOBBS: I HAVEN'T HEARD ANYTHING ABOUT IT FROM THE SENATE SO I'M NOT SURE.

TED SIMONS: GOOD TO HAVE YOU BOTH HERE. THANK YOU FOR JOINING US. YOU'RE WATCHING ARIZONA HORIZON. UP NEXT: PHYSICIST LAWRENCE KRAUSS AND THE LATEST IN THE SEARCH FOR LIFE ON OTHER WORLDS.

Senate minority leader Katie Hobbs and House minority leader Rebecca Rios

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.
airs 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
with azpbs.org!

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: