Republican Lawmakers on End of Session

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We’ll hear from republican legislative leaders on the end of the 2017 session. Senate president Steve Yarbrough and House Speaker J.D. Mesnard will give us a wrap up of the session.

TED SIMONS: MONDAY, WE HEARD FROM DEMOCRATIC LEADERS ON THE 2017 LEGISLATIVE SESSION. TONIGHT, IT'S THE REPUBLICANS' TURN. WE WELCOME SENATE PRESIDENT STEVE YARBROUGH AND HOUSE SPEAKER J.D. MENARD.

TED SIMONS: THANKS FOR JOINING US. THOUGHTS ON THE SESSION OVERALL.

STEVE YARBROUGH: VERY GOOD.

STEVE YARBROUGH: WE PASSED A GREAT BUDGET. WE DID WONDERFUL THINGS FOR K-12 EDUCATION AND THE UNIVERSITIES AND WE ARE EXCITED ABOUT THAT.

TED SIMONS: 30,000-FOOT VIEW. YOUR THOUGHTS?

JD MESNARD: THE PRESIDENT IS RIGHT. IT WAS SOLID. WE GOT A SWEET SPOT IN THE MIDDLE. AT TIMES IT WASN'T EASY BUT SOMETHING WE CAN LOOK BACK TO BE PROUD OF.

TED SIMONS: ONE OF THE MORE EMOTIONAL SESSIONS, THE SCHOLARSHIP ACCOUNTS. WHY AGAIN ARE THESE GOOD FOR ARIZONA?

STEVE YARBROUGH: MY VIEW IS THAT THE ANGST IS MISPLACED, THEY ARE MODEST AND ARE GOING TO GIVE MORE PARENTS AN OPPORTUNITY TO CHOOSE THE EDUCATION CIRCUMSTANCE BEST FOR THEIR CHILD. I THINK IT'S POSITIVE.

TED SIMONS: THESE ARE FOLKS THAT OTHERWISE COULD ATTEND PRIVATE SCHOOLS.

STEVE YARBROUGH: I'M NOT SURE THAT'S ACCURATE. A LOT OF KIDS ARE COMING OUT OF A AND B SCHOOLS. THEY ARE DISABLED STUDENTS COMING FROM THE AREAS. I DON'T THINK THAT'S THE WAY IT WILL PLAY OUT.

TED SIMONS: WHEN CRITICS SAY IT'S A MASSIVE DISTRIBUTION HAVE NOTS TO THE HAVES, YOU SAY?

JD MESNARD: THE EVIDENCE DOESN'T BEAR THAT OUT. IT'S BEEN A NARROW PROGRAM. WE'LL SEE OVER THE COMING YEARS NOW THAT THE ELIGIBILITY IS EXPANDED TO EVERYONE, WITH CAPS ON THE NUMBER THAT CAN GET A SCHOLARSHIP. IF IT PLAYS OUT THE WAY THEY SAY, THERE WILL BE RESPONSE. MOST OF US DON'T SEE IT PLAYING OUT THAT WAY.

TED SIMONS: DO YOU SEE WHY SO MANY WERE UPSET BY THIS?

JD MESNARD: THEY SEE THIS AS AN OMEN AS AN ATTACK ON PUBLIC EDUCATION AND IT IS NOT. I SUPPORT THE WHOLE GAMUT, REALLY. THE BUDGET IS A GOOD INDICATOR THAT WE SUPPORT IT.

TED SIMONS: DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHY THERE WAS AN OUT CRY OVER THIS?

STEVE YARBROUGH: I DO, BUT IT'S IN THE DNA OF SOME FOLKS. I UNDERSTAND IT.

TED SIMONS: THEY WOULD SAY IT'S IN THE DNA TO TAKE THE MONEY OUT OF PUBLIC EDUCATION AND PUT IT IN PRIVATE.

STEVE YARBROUGH: I'M SURE THEY WOULD BUT THIS WILL BE GOOD FOR ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT FOR STUDENTS.

TED SIMONS: TEACHER PAY, 1% STIPEND, GOOD ENOUGH?

STEVE YARBROUGH: WE WOULD HAVE LIKED TO DO MORE, BUT IT WAS WHAT WE WERE ABLE TO DO. WE'LL COME BACK AND DO ANOTHER 1% IN THE NEXT BUDGET AND SEE WHERE WE GO FROM THERE.

TED SIMONS: WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE PAY RAISE?

JD MESNARD: A THOUSAND DOLLARS ON AVERAGE IS NOTHING TO SNEEZE AT. THE PRESIDENT HAD OTHER ISSUES LIKE THE IMPACT OF COMMUNITY WAGE. THEY FELT THEY DIDN'T GET ALL OF THE RESOURCES THEY WANTED. THERE WERE A LOT OF COMPETING PRIORITIES AND DID OUR BEST TO DISTRIBUTE THE INCOME.

TED SIMONS: WITH ALL OF THE OTHER STUFF GOING ON, WAS IT NECESSARY?

JD MESNARD: IT WAS SMALL INCOME TAX. WHERE WE SPENT HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS MORE, THEY FELT A NUGGET TO THE TAXPAYER WHICH IS SMALL. WE DON'T WANT TO BE ABOUT SPENDING, WE WANT TO BE ABOUT HELPING OUT THE TAXPAYER.

TED SIMONS: A NUGGET TO LAWMAKERS. IS THAT WHAT IT REQUIRES TO GET THINGS DONE?

STEVE YARBROUGH: SOMETIMES THAT'S WHAT IT REQUIRES TO GET OVER THE FINISH LINE.

TED SIMONS: THE K-12 CAPITAL PROJECTS DOESN'T SEEM LIKE THERE WERE CUTS TO CAPITAL. YOU ALSO GOT A LAWSUIT. WHEN WILL THAT BE ADDRESSED?

STEVE YARBROUGH: IT'S A STORY THAT WILL TAKE QUITE A WHILE TO PLAY OUT AND WE HAVE TO SEE IF THERE IS MERIT TO THIS ON A LEGAL BASIS. WE CERTAINLY DO -- WE ARE SENSITIVE TO THIS. WE PUT 17,000,000 MORE INTO REPAIRS. BETWEEN TWO YEAR, A HUNDRED MILLION FOR SIX NEW CAMPUSES.

TED SIMONS: AND DEPENDING ON WHO YOU TALK TO, $2 BILLION SINCE 2009. WHEN IS THAT GOING TO HAPPEN?

JD MESNARD: WE WERE RAISING THE RED FLAG ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF A LAWSUIT. I THINK THE BUDGET SHOWS WE ARE TRYING TO REMEDY THAT. THERE IS SOMETHING WE HAVE TO LOOK AT. I'M SURE IT WILL PLAY OUT OVER THREE YEARS.

TED SIMONS: PROP 301 THE SALES TAX FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION, THAT WASN'T ADDRESSED EITHER. HOW COME?

JD MESNARD: EITHER WAY, IF WE WERE GOING TO PUT IT ON THE BALLOT, THIS SESSION OR NEXT, EITHER WAY 2018 BALLOT. I THINK YOU WILL SUPPORT FOR EXTENDING IT.

TED SIMONS: EXTENDING IT OR EXTENDING IT TO A FULL CENT?

STEVE YARBROUGH: I WOULDN'T WANT TO PREDICT THAT. I DON'T KNOW IF IT WILL INCREASE. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ONE CENT AND SIX IS A SUBSTANTIAL DIFFERENCE.

TED SIMONS: YES, IT IS. YOU WERE HAPPY WITH THE WAY THINGS TURNED OUT. WAS THERE ONE DISAPPOINTMENT FOR YOU?

STEVE YARBROUGH: NOT REALLY. WE DIDN'T KNOW IF WE WOULD GET THE INCREASE OR TANF AND WE WERE ABLE TO PULL IT OFF.

TED SIMONS: I DON'T KNOW IF IT'S GOOD IF A LAWMAKER ISN'T UPSET ABOUT ANYTHING.

JD MESNARD: WELL, IF WE CAN DO IT IN A SHORTER PERIOD OF TIME NEXT YEAR THAT WOULD BE BETTER.

TED SIMONS: WE APPRECIATE YOU BEING HERE

Sen. Steve Yarbrough: (R) Senate President; Rep. J.D. Mesnard: (R) House Speaker

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