Monday, June 30, 2008

I have a bad feeling about this

George Lucas' favorite line seems to be an accurate indicator of how people are feeling about the new budget. There are very few people standing up talking about how great it is or how its going to help Arizona's overall economic health. In fact, Napolitano said very little in signing it into law on Friday.

The overall tone is very negative and the support for the budget appears very thin as those in favor appear to not want to be connected to some of the financing schemes that were needed to keep the plan afloat. The overall view of the budget is far from upbeat.

For example:

The Tribune calls the plan a "gamble"

The Capitol Times says that the business agenda was "left out in the cold"

Robert Robb is calling it a " colossal failure of leadership"

Espresso Pundit is predicting that it will "devastate the state's finances in the long run"

Blog for Arizona even takes issue with Tim Bee not standing up against a "Democratic budget"

Even the Arizona Republic calls the budget "ugly" before lavishing praise on it

We have yet to find someone who is happy about the budget's passage or is willing to stand up and selling it on its merits. This budget seems to be a child with no parents. So who is going to get it under control as the budget worsens with gasoline going up another 10 cents and no one being able to afford to leave the house?

Smile, you're on Janet Camera

This is pretty hilarious. Don't want a $165 traffic camera fine? Senator Ron Gould has a solution.

Napolitano vetoes abortion bill

Governor Napolitano has vetoed the partial birth abortion bill for a second time. You will recall that this is the same bill that she rejected earlier in the year and gave a list of reasons for its rejection. Those issues were fixed, yet it was not enough to get the Governor's approval Here is more coverage from IC Arizona and CAP.

Here is their breakdown of all of the abortion bills that Napolitano has rejected during her term in office:
  • Informed consent for women considering abortions (Vetoed in 2004)
  • Informing a woman considering an abortion that the child may feel pain (Vetoed in 2006)
  • Notarized written consent by a parent or guardian before a minor may get an abortion (Vetoed in 2006)
  • Guidelines for a judge to consider when allowing a minor to get an abortion without parental consent (Vetoed in 2006)
  • Amended guidelines for a judge to consider that addressed the Governor's concerns (Vetoed in 2008)
  • No insurance taxpayer subsidies for abortions for government employees (Vetoed in 2006)
  • Ban on the sale of human eggs (Vetoed in 2006)
  • Informed consent for women donating their eggs (Vetoed in 2006)
  • Ban on partial-birth abortion (Vetoed twice in 2008)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Winners and Losers

Well, Politicker's weekly winners and losers list is out. No surprise here is that Governor Napolitano is at the top of the list for getting her budget passed complete with all of the bells and whistles that she wanted. The Arizona Republic has done an interesting write up of the new funding sources that have been tapped to make this budget work.

Here are a few highlights:

-Boosting lottery sales to fund more buildings for the Universities
-$40 to $50 million more in costs shifted to the taxpayers of Maricopa County
-$120 million from the speed cams

Some of these spending fixes will have long term implications on the state. Perhaps Politicker should consider "Arizona Citizens" for the loser column next time.

Taking cues from a Schmuck

Frank Schmuck should be careful sharing his ideas on immigration because Governor Napolitano seems to be in the mood to try anything. As Red Arizona points out, its the same type of conflicting reason that creeps into Napolitano's best buddy Senator Barrack Obama's rhetoric.

On second thought, she would probably avoid driving school for illegal immigrants because it will mean more "Janet Cam" revenue.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Return of the Traffic Cameras

It looks like no good money grab is coming off the table. Just a day after expanded lottery winnings are going to fund more buildings for our Universities (while doing nothing about tuition), it looks like traffic cameras may return to the equation.

Yet another brainchild of Gov. Janet Napolitano who, if you recall, ran as a fiscal conservative in her bid for reelection in 2006. It looks like she saved most of the big spending for her second term. What is most interesting to note is this statement spelled out in the Republic article: "Neither plan calls for a tax increase."

Our 2009 budget is going to have borrowing, financing gimmicks, increased gambling, and maybe speeding tickets, but it sure doesn't have a tax increase in it. Where do they think all of this extra money is coming from - especially these $165 tickets with no points placed on the license? Its a way to squeeze more money without the problem of being called a "tax."

Will Napolitano condemn BAMN?

As we mentioned yesterday, Napolitano's transportation tax hike has more thank likely made it to the ballot getting over 250,000 petition signatures. Another initiative that is still on the street is the Arizona Civil Rights Initiative ballot petition. Sonoran Alliance has great coverage of how the national group By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) have come to town to try to harass people and prevent them from signing the petition.

Napolitano has shown her faith in using the initiative path to get things placed on the ballot, unveiling a transportation plan of her own that avoided the Legislature altogether. How would she have felt if people followed gatherers carrying her petitions around and harassed people into not signing? How would she have reacted if people had tried to take petitions away from gatherers? If voters have the right to vote on their own 18% sales tax hike, shouldn't they have the same right to vote on this Civil Rights initiative?

You can see the BAMN tactics for yourself:

So the question is: Will Napolitano condemn BAMN for their actions in blocking the citizen's initiative process that she has shown favor to?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

2010 Watch

We're combing through the rumor mills, news stories, and blogs to give you the latest on who is planning on running for Governor in 2010.

Its more national media attention for Sheriff Joe, this time taking Shaquille O'Neal to task for his offensive language in the rap about former teammate Kobe Bryant. The story was also featured on Sportscenter. We all know that the Sheriff enjoys the media attention, but is he ramping up for his Sheriff's race against Democrat Challenger Dan Saban or is he gearing up for a run for Governor in 2010? Inevitably, he'll flirt with the idea, but will be be in for real this time? For now, we'll put him on the list.

Here is the updated short list:

Secretary of State Jan Brewer
State Treasurer Dean Martin
Republican Party Chairman Randy Pullen
Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters
John Munger, Former State Chairman, RNC Committee
Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Attorney General Terry Goddard
Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon
Jim Pederson, former State Chairman, Candidate for US Senate

If you have any juicy gossip or more information, please let us know at

On the verge of a spending spree

Its quite a day for spending in Arizona, with Governor Napolitano behind several fronts that will impact Arizona's fiscal future for many years to come. Individually, any one of these items may not that big of a deal, but combined, it could have some serious long-term impacts on the economy.

1. The budget that is being proposed includes growing the Lottery, throwing a whopping $1 billion to the universities to construct even more buildings, plus another $1 billion in borrowing. The Legislature is "ironing out" the difference according to the Arizona Republic but the fact of the matter is that one of the funding sources in the Governor's budget is gambling. As the economy slips, more people probably play the lottery in hopes of getting a big payout so that they don't lose their house, but that doesn't make it a sensible way to fix funding shortages.

2. It looks like the Governor's $42 billion dollar tax increase for transportation will be on the ballot in November. If you recall its a 1 cent increase in the statewide sales tax, which means that some places will be on the verge of having a 10% sales tax. The plan includes more light rail, high speed trains, money for non-profits, payouts to conservation groups. Plus, all of it goes outside the regular procurement process. There is a lot of spending here that may not yield a lot of results.

3. Finally, the Senate has sent the Decades Theme park project to the Governor's desk. This project could issue up to $750 million in bonds for a location that is 50 miles aaway from any major town. Will the state be on the hook if the project issues the bonds, builds the park, and then shuts down? Its not clear if the Governor will sign, but its another potential financial burden that could have lasting effects.

Any one of these things could put the state budget in a bind for many years to come. What happens if the lottery doesn't pay enough for the university construction? What happens when the contruction costs overrun on this grandiose train? Where is the maintenance and operations money coming from since all transit is subsidized? What happens if Decades is a huge failure? Who is on the hook for that?

We are faced with a $1.9 billion deificit right now, and we are facing budget cuts across the board. Is now the right time to be going on a spending spree?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Napolitano admits Recession

While maybe not as ready to admit the impacts on the local economy, Governor Napolitano is ready to admit to a recession when it comes to extolling the virtues of Senator Barrack Obama.

Combined with the Economic Crunch pointers that we mentioned last week, you'd think that it might be enough to curb some of the healthy spending that is going on around here. However, this does not appear to be the case.

Budget Deal approaches

The House and the Senate have both put out draft budget plans. In both plans, Governor Napolitano is getting her wish for K-12 bonding and fund sweeps. One of the main differences, it appears, is that the House version contains more cuts while the Senate version allows the K-12 budget rollover that the Governor has requested.

The paper reports that Napolitano is "looking favorably" on the Senate package, which is why its no surprise that it gets the lede even though the House's budget actually came out earlier in the day. Also, the house budget is being dismissed as not bipartisan with the Governor's spokesperson stating that there is "not a lot to like" in the plan.

So, it appears that placing a large amount of financial burden on a future budget is a dealbreaker for Napolitano. It must be in or else there is "not a lot to like." With shutdown looming, we probably will see a final plan much closer to the Senate plan with a large financial price tag attached.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Seated at the Right Hand

Great post today by Exurban league with a very telling picture. Napolitano is featured prominently sitting at Obama's right hand right by his new logofied version of the presidential seal. Its also important to note the more stylish looking outfit that she is sporting. As we have mentioned before, it looks to be part of her new appeal to the national media. Certainly softer than some of the other outfits she has sported:

Immigration and Arizona

Former chairman of the Arizona Democratic Party and Napolitano go to guy, David Waid recently wrote an article about Illegal Immigration and the problems it poses for the GOP. He uses Arpaio as the example of GOP in Arizona to help prove his point which is sort of like using Dennis Kucinich as an example to prove a point about Democrats.

The problem, he says, is that evangelicals have a problem with the meanspiritedness of the immigration issue, and they shy away from candidates who focus on it. While its true that people are turned off by the rhetoric, he missed the point that Arizonans are just not that into illegal immigration.

What he glosses over is how much the voters have engaged on illegal immigration in the past few years:
  • Prop 200 (Arizona Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act – 2004) passed with 55.6%
  • Prop 100 (Bail Offenses – 2006) passed with 77.9%
  • Prop 102 (Legal Standing in Civil Actions – 2006) passed with 74.2%
  • Prop 103 (English Official Language – 2006) passed with 74.0%
  • Prop 300 (Public Program Eligibility – 2006) passed with 71.4%
People are fed up with the problems caused by immigration and they want a solution. This is not an issue that impacts Republicans exclusively. He is right that a Republican primary is often a race to the right on issues such as immigration, but what he doesn't approach is what it does to a Democratic primary.

Arizona still has a Republican registration advantage and Democrats still need either Republican or Independent crossover votes to win. So, their positions on key issues such as immgration can have just as many ramifications in the General Election. If they are percieved as too soft on immigration or in favor of open borders, they are going to have trouble. The "Republicans are crazy and we're not" approach isn't going to be enough to put them over the edge.

One of the first tests of this will be in the Richard vs. Nelson primary contest for Maricopa County Attorney. Their potential positions could have just as big of an impact on splitting their base. What they say in their primary, and their position on immigration will be put to the test when they go up against Thomas in the general.

This holds true for the Governor's race in 2010. To have success, the candidate is going to have to have a clear position and plan on immigration that will be enough to hold their base while appealing to everyone else. Its a challenge that both Republicans and Democrats will face.

Beltway view of 2010 race

Great link from Espresso Pundit to an analysis from inside the beltway on the upcoming races in Arizona. Here is assessment of the Governors race:

Governor – Janet Napolitano (D)

1998: Gov. Jane Hull (R) 61%, Paul Johnson (D) 36%
2002: Janet Napolitano (D) 46%, Matt Salmon (R) 45%
2006: Gov. Janet Napolitano (D) 63%, Len Munsil (R) 35%

Governor Napolitano cannot seek a third term in 2010. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, considered a rising Democratic star, may seek to replace her, as may state Attorney General Terry Goddard. Arizona Secretary of State Jan Brewer and U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters have expressed interest for the Republicans. It is way too early to speculate as to outcome, but that’s what we do here. Based on Napolitano’s popularity, Arizona’s Democratic trend, and the quality of potential Democratic candidates, I’d have to rate the Dems as slight favorites to hold. We will watch to see how it plays out.

It is definately an interesting analysis and he goes on to talk about the trend that Arizona has going towards electing more Democrats. Clearly, Napolitano is popular. However, it should be noted that there are more Republicans holding statewide office right now than Democrats and the entire corporation commission is Republican.

The race is too close to call on who the favorite will be based solely on party. Its not going to be enough of an indicator. Plus, this doesn't take into account if Obama wins and Napolitano decides to leave early and what that would do to the power structure in Arizona. That is something else to consider.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Napolitano supports even more spending

Intellectual Conservative Arizona (artist formerly known as AZ Political Intel) has pointed out that Governor Napolitano is also supporting the $1.4 billion dollar bonding package for the universities.

Not only is she supporting bonding for K-12, and an 18% increase in the sales tax for transportation, but she is also supporting another $1.4 Billion in debt for something cleverly masked as a "stimulus plan."

I am not exactly sure how building more buildings makes sense to help the Universities when they underutilize the buildings that they already have. Its also hard to feel like they are cash poor when the continually raise the tuition rates slowly creeping away from their mandate that University education "shall be as nearly free as possible."

There is a disconnect here between the reality of what the state faces and what the Governor and the University types want to spend their money on. Its hard to fool people who aren't driving around as much because they can't afford gas that they should cough up more money to build shiny new buildings. When regular people have to make sacrifices because of the economy, the Government should have to as well.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Governor Prepares to Veto Another Abortion measure

The partial birth abortion bill has made its way to the Governor's desk, likely to be vetoed again. An interesting observation:

"The governor has vetoed every bill to restrict abortion rights that has come to her since she has been in office."

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Gov and Legislature oppose Real ID

Napolitano has signed HB2677 which prevents Arizona from joining the national Real ID program. The governor cited the $4 billion cost to implement the program.

Its a brief showing of frugality in an otherwise tense situation in a significant economic downturn. What about our current billion dollar budget deficit? Where is the frugality there?

Yesterday, she launched a release discussing the economic crunch and her new awareness program. Apparently, it makes a lot of sense to spend money in the midst of the economic downturn to tell people that there is a downturn.

Shouldn't the government be spending less money in this time as well?

Arpaio Nabs 1000th human smuggling arrest

Well, looks like Arpaio has reached another milestone, even if it appears to be a somewhat manufactured one. From the sweeps to the human smuggling, the Sheriff has been keeping a lot of pressure on the illegal immigration issue.

Is he ramping up all of this attention to help secure his position in a heated Sheriff's race or is he setting his sights 2 years from now for an anticipated bid for Governor?

This perrenial "will he/won't he" run for Governor business has sustained him for a long time, with every cycle building with anticipation. Does he get enough press from his regular tease to satiate his need for headlines, or will he jump in this time?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Obama Carrying Arizona?

Governor Napolitano repeats her belief that Barrack Obama could carry Arizona in the upcoming election. Its a tall order that most people aren't taking too seriously.

While she may believe that Arizona is a relatively new state, it should be pointed out that she won her last race for Governor in 2006 with 959,830 votes, while McCain won his last race for Senator in 2004 with 1,505,372 votes.

That's over 55% more votes than Napolinato received in her election.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Napolitano should clean up her mess before she goes

From the Arizona Federation of Taxpayers

When I was little and my room was a mess, my mom would make me clean up before I could go outside and play with the other kids.

Right now, there is a lot of talk about Governor Janet Napolitano leaving Arizona to go play with the big kids in Washington, DC. She is on the short list to be Barack Obama’s vice presidential running mate, and many think she could become the next US Attorney General.

But before she leaves, Gov. Napolitano should clean up the mess that she—more than anyone else—has made of Arizona’s state budget.

Since taking office in 2003, Napolitano has prodded the Arizona Legislature to grow state budgets at an average rate of 12 percent annually, much faster than the rate of growth of the state’s private economy, which grows at 7 or 8 percent annually during economic boom times. State government spending now takes up 7.01 percent of the state’s economy—the biggest portion since 1980.

With spending growing so fast, and reaching unsustainable levels, it was inevitable that tax revenues would fall short and that a gigantic deficit would emerge. That gap is now up to $2.2 billion—proportionally, the biggest state deficit in the country.

Napolitano was the prime mover in creating the deficit, so she should have taken the lead in trying to fix it. But she failed to call the Legislature into special session last fall to correct this year’s budget, and she failed to use her executive power to reduce agency spending.

For next year’s deficit, Napolitano has proposed fund shifts and accounting gimmicks, but very little in the way of net spending reductions. The combined impact of her measures would be to temporarily reduce the deficit by roughly $1.2 billion—a billion dollars short of actually balancing the budget.

Napolitano has left open the possibility of increasing state property taxes by $250 million, but tax increases are politically unpopular (and bad for a struggling economy). So it appears that her real plan—if she has one—is to balance the budget by increasing state debt. At this point, it is likely that the liberal majority in the Arizona Legislature will support her in resorting to debt.
Of course, taking on debt will not be the end of the story. If Napolitano moves to DC in 2009, she will be gone when the state begins paying $200 million annually in interest on that debt. Between the interest payments and voter-approved automatic spending increases, the budget deficit for the following year (FY 2010) will probably still be over a billion dollars.

To avoid ongoing deficits in 2010, 2011, and 2012, Arizona would have to see spectacular economic growth, with annual growth in tax revenues of about 15 percent. If that kind of growth does not materialize—and it probably won’t—Napolitano’s replacement will be forced to choose between deep spending cuts and huge tax increases.

Instead of leaving a gigantic fiscal mess for someone else to clean up, Napolitano should work with legislative leaders to make significant spending reductions now.

The Legislature’s appropriations chairmen, Sen. Bob Burns and Rep. Russell Pearce, have found $1.5 billion in spending reductions that would allow the state to balance next year’s budget without taking on debt or raising taxes. Napolitano should be able to support those reductions, which would shave the overall state budget down to the size it was two years ago, in FY 2007.
And if she is still in Arizona this fall, Napolitano should be ready to call the Legislature into special session to make further spending reductions, if revenues fail to meet current expectations.

For better or worse, Napolitano does not have a political “mom” who will make her stay in Arizona until she cleans up her mess. But she is a big girl now, so maybe she can learn how to clean up after herself.

--Tom Jenney is the Arizona director of Americans for Prosperity (

Friday, June 13, 2008

2010 Watch

We're combing through the rumor mills, news stories, and blogs to give you the latest on who is planning on running for Governor in 2010.

The big question is, if Napolitano does decide to leave, would Brewer run for re-election? One would think that this would give her a significant advantage over the other challengers. Would someone from the party step in and get people in line?

Jim Pederson's name has been thrown around as a potential candidate for Governor as he is still making waves sponsoring the latest state land trust initiative as well as donating to the redistricting initiative as well.

Arizona Report is saying that the Kool-Aid man is interested as well, but who knows his party affiliation.

Here is the updated short list:

Secretary of State Jan Brewer

State Treasurer Dean Martin
Republican Party Chairman Randy Pullen
Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters
John Munger, Former State Chairman, RNC Committee

Attorney General Terry Goddard
Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon

Jim Pederson, former State Chairman, Candidate for US Senate

If you have any juicy gossip or more information, please let us know at

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Gov apparently did not give enough to the Conservation Groups

The Sierra Club has come out against the 1 cent hike for transit.

Their complaint? Only 18% is dedicated to transit and light rail. Not very surprising, but their focus is on the Tucson-to-Phoenix passenger rail service.

Interestingly enough, this comes on the heels of other groups coming out against it because it spends too much on those untested transit items. Clearly, we have some crucial transportation needs in this state, but no one can agree on what it is.

If you want to see the plan, you can check it out yourself over at the ADOT page.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Keeping with the Tradition

With the speculation that Napolitano may have one foot out the door, the reality of Jan Brewer becoming Governor is starting set in. Seeing Red has an excellent breakdown of another time that this happened when Castro left to become ambassador.

The Obama win/Napolitano departure is a mixed bag for both Republicans and Democrats. For Republicans, there would be a fiscal conservative running the show and getting the budget under control. On the other hand, it would mean that McCain lost and there is a new team in Washington finding different ways to spend money. For the Democrats, it would be a big win to have a Democrat return to the White House, but then they would have to deal with Brewer locally which wouldn't be in their favor. Which is better to be happy locally or nationally?

It is also interesting to note, that since Castro took over in 1975, Arizona has not had a Governor that has entered and left the office under "normal" circumstances:

Raul Castro January 6, 1975 to October 20, 1977
(Left to become ambassador)

Wesley Bolin October 20, 1977 to March 4, 1978
(Took over for Castro, Died of Heart Attack)

Bruce Babbitt March 4, 1978 to January 5, 1987
(Took over for Bolin)

Evan Mecham January 5, 1987 to April 4, 1988
(Removed from Office)

Rose Mofford April 4, 1988 to March 6, 1991
(Took over for Mecham)

Fife Symington March 6, 1991 to September 8, 1997
(Forced to Resign)

Jane Dee Hull September 8, 1997 to January 6, 2003
(Took over for Symington)

Janet Napolitano January 6, 2003 to ???

If Napolitano leaves, the cycle will continue.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Citizen wants Napolitano to stay

The Tucson Citizen believes, "Arizona needs Napolitano a lot more than Obama does."

I hate to tell the folks over at the Citizen, but there are a lot of signs pointing to a departure if there is an opportunity after the presidential election. Here are just a few:

1. A mounting budget deficit that the Governor's office does not appear to have any desire to negotiate. It appears that its borrowing and bonding or nothing. That's not the type of compromise that the state needs.

2. The half-baked transportation plan has the potential to make or break her legacy. Besides All-Day Kindergarden and CPS reform, what else does she have? If this thing starts going down in flames, its going to be important that she has an escape route.

3. Have you looked at the Governor's web page lately? There is a fairly new and airbrushed picture gracing every page, plus some very high res shots available for press use. Combined with the rumors that she has been dressing up more as of late, it would appear that she has her mind on the national media instead of the locals.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Napolitano on the VP List?

According to some folks, Governor Napolitano is on Obama's short list for VP. The other names listed as potentials are:

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson
Former Senator and Presidential Candidate John Edwards
Delaware Senator Joe Biden
Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd
Virginia Governor Tim Kaine
Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill
Virginia Senator Jim Webb
Former Senator Sam Nunn

I don't think we'll see the Governor as the VP candidate, but I bet her bags will be packed this November if Obama wins. My guess? Attorney General.