Political Roundtable

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John Loredo, political consultant with Tequida and Gutierrez, and Jaime Molera, political consultant with the Molera Alvarez Group, analyze Governor Brewer’s State of the State address and the new legislative session.

José Cárdenas: This week, Governor Jan Brewer gave her first state-of-the-state speech. The governor and lawmakers face a deficit of $1.4 billion for the current fiscal year and $3 billion for next year. I'll discuss her address with two political analysts, but first, here is what the governor had to say about the challenge of a rising budget deficit. And you will also hear responses from Democratic and Republican state legislators.

Jan Brewer: The economy is still not recovered. Our revenues still depressed and there's no avoiding this hardship. More state jobs are going to be shed and services are going to be further curtailed or lost. Let me be clear. In the history of this state, no other governor has cut state government more than I have. [Applause] And let me make one point very clear. I have great respect for everyone in this chamber and your contributions to our state. But there is no one here and no one elsewhere who has fought any longer or harder than I have for lower taxes, job growth and economic freedom in Arizona. [Applause]

Rebecca Rios: Republicans have been in charge for the last four years, this devastating economic situation came under their watch and the Republican majority is taking Arizona down the wrong track. Arizona needs leadership now. We need a governor who's willing to work with Democrats on a bipartisan solution we need to focus on what is important to Arizona families, quality jobs, a better educational system, affordable healthcare and the safety of our families.

Amanda Aguirre: The tax reform is a big issue and we've got to generate revenues, so beside just investing in our state to create jobs and create better workforce in our state, we need to look at tax reform. How we do it, we have to do it in a very smart way, that we not only create the jobs but also benefit the businesses that can provide the jobs in Arizona.

Steve Montenegro: Instead of raising taxes, we need to start looking at having more taxpayers. Creating an atmosphere where we're attracting the jobs that are here, the businesses that are here, they can expand their operations, they can employ more people here in Arizona, at the same time, attract other businesses here.

Russell Pearce: There's some tough decisions, it's going to take a lot of political courage, going to step up to the plate. But there are options there are a lot of options if this body has the political courage to do what's right to save families from future burdens. The last thing you want do in a recession, the last thing you want to do is raise taxes on families.

José Cárdenas: Here now to talk about the governor's speech is Jaime Molera, political consultant with the Molera Alvarez group. Also here is John Loredo, political consultant with Tequida and Gutierrez. Welcome to both of you. You've been here before. We've got new digs. I'd like to start by getting each of your thoughts on the speech. Just overall impression, Jaime?

Jaime Molera: Well, I think the governor did a very good job. She's not an Obama speech maker but she certainly came across as somebody who is going to take charge. Somebody that feels we have to -- you know, be honest with the people of Arizona. You have to make cuts, we have to raise revenues, but there are a lot of other policy issues we're going to have to deal with. One of the things that I think helped her out, I think she solidified her position within the Republican ranks. She's going to have a strong primary challenge and by solidifying what she stands for and what she wants to accomplish, the Republicans can galvanize and say that makes sense to us and we think that's the kind of governor we can win with going against Terry Goddard in a general election.

José Cárdenas: John, your thoughts?

John Loredo: I got the impression it was the type of speech that a governor gives when under fire. The very first sentence of the speech, she snubs Terry Goddard and treasurer Martin by not introducing them. I figured, that says a lot. She also seemed to be very defensive to me. Having to go out of her way to qualify herself as being someone who's been around, nobody's fought harder than me. Those type of things. But I got the impression it was a defensive speech. At the same time, she did take jabs here and there both at the majority in each chamber and statewide elected officials.
José Cárdenas: Commentary is consist the with what Jaime said. This was a political speech. Looking at it from that perspective do you think it was effective?

John Loredo: I don't think it persuaded anyone on that floor one way or the other. I think everyone knows they're supporting her or they're not. And certainly, there's enough evidence to show that over the last couple of special sessions when the governor's number one priority has been left with a bloody knife in its back on the floor.

José Cárdenas: Well Jaime, do you agree with that there seemed to be signs last legislative session that members of the republican majority and the legislature were battling their governor and in response to this speech, seemed to be closing ranks.

Jaime Molera: I respect the heck out of John but I disagree a little bit. Because I think her speech wasn't for anyone on the floor it was to the broader audience and to the Republican party, the regulars who say this is what I stand for and if you get behind me, this is what we're going to do and I think it was pretty effective. And I think that's exactly what she should have done. Honestly people were looking for that -- six months ago. The one thing that a governor has to do is first solidify their base in the party once you can solidify your party base and they can rally behind you, then you can start to broaden and say this is what I want to do in a broad perspective for the state. And that's why I think she was pretty effective.

José Cárdenas: Don't we need her to be focused on the budget deficit and one of criticisms of the speech, there was hardly any reference to revenue enhancement which she had staked out of position courageously last time around and everybody seems to thinks you got to have that. But she hardly mentioned it.

Jaime Molera: You see, but that's where the genius of the speech was. She didn't back off of it. She didn't say last year I came to the tax increase I'm going to back away from it. She's going to release the budget on Friday and I assure you there going to have revenue enhancement pieces that are going to be a sales tax increase and they've not backed away from it. The thing they didn't do, is say we need to get revenue to run state government, we need to fund our universities and healthcare system. But she also needs to stand for, how are you going to create jobs, how are you going to reform government, making it leaner and make it so that the public feels there's not a big bureaucracy in place. That's where she has to stake her ground and that's what this speech was about. This is what I stand for and we're going to do these other things to keep the government functioning but here's my policy and this is how we're going to move forward. And that's what she needed to do.

José Cárdenas: John, it wasn't necessarily a bipartisan speech but on the other hand it did seem like she was reaching out in a way to the democratic caucus.

John Loredo: I don't think so. The reality is this --

---Talk about a suggestion box.

John Loredo: Yeah, that's great. Nobody is going to read -- nobody has the key to the box. I mean, look, the reality is this: She's had ample opportunity to reach across the aisle in order to negotiate her priorities whether it be the sales tax or anything else. She's simply failed to do so, she's had a couple of meetings where she's basically told the democrats I'm giving you the opportunity to vote for my plan and you should just do it. That's not negotiable. And I think the reality for Governor Brewer is she's stuck between a rock and a hard place. She can't get the votes within her own Republican caucus for her priorities but at the same time, she doesn't want to go to the Democrats because she feels that if she goes to the Democrats now, Treasurer Martin is going to beat her over the head with that. So there she sits all of them sit in special session for months and months at a time and can't get anything done.

José Cárdenas: She may not have been that welcoming to the democrats in this speech, but as a practical way don't you expect her to be talking to the democrats in a much more substantive way this time around?

John Loredo: If it was about policy, yes. But she got done giving a political campaign speech which tells me that the campaign is front and center and now with treasurer Martin jumping into the race, I think that complicates things tremendously because now you have Republicans who support him at the floor of the house that are not going to want to get her -- give her a victory. And you're going to have Martin getting involved and pressing his people not to cooperate her.

José Cárdenas: Let me give Jaime the last word. We've got about 20 seconds.

Jaime Molera: The Democrats on the flip side, let's face it. They know if that if they can muck things up, it helps out their candidate for governor. That if nothing happens that if they start there for months and months and months that it's good for them. Where Governor Brewer --

José Cárdenas: We've run out of time, thanks for joining us.

John Loredo:Political consultant,Tequida and Gutierrez;Jaime Molera:Political consultant, Molera Alvarez Group;

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