Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A new judge lost in all of this

Lost in all of this budget mess was the fact that Governor Brewer now
has three potential replacements for retiring Chief Justice Ruth
McGregor for the Supreme Court. The three finalists, a Democrat and
two Republicans are as follows: Court of Appeals Chief Judge Ann Scott
Timmer, Court of Appeals Chief Judge A. John Pelander, and Appellate
Judge Diane M. Johnsen. Brewer intends to interview each and is
assumed to have the pick completed by the end of July.

It all comes down to today

Well, today is the day. Even if the budget doesn't pass and they either shut down the Government or pass a few bills in the meantime to keep things afloat, today will determine who is still an elected representative come next November. If the state shuts down, I will take any bets that Republicans will lose seats in both chambers next year. The survey data is too clear for it not to happen. Will Brewer be able to escape a lot of the blame? How much attention nationally does Arizona get, and does that turn into big Democrat donations next cycle?

We may all look back to today as the day that changed the political landscape in Arizona.

UPDATE: The Senate Rules Committee just killed on a 1-5 vote the sales tax portion of the budget. It looks like midnight is probably going to pass without a budget.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Budget Drama All Around

So after working all day Saturday, everyone decided to come back with fresh eyes on Monday morning and get the budget bills passed.  

With just a day and a half left, the clock is ticking and with events like today it looks like the likelihood of a shutdown growing each minute.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Budget Deal Confirmed

From the GOP Senate Website.

We can confirm that a budget deal has been reached. The proposal will consist of four components:
1) The passage of the budget bills which were voted on earlier this month.
2) A set of trailer bills to the budget package.
3) A flat tax proposal.
4) A sales tax referral to the ballot.

Members will be briefed today. More details to follow.

AZ Republic Coverage Here

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Budget compromise reached?

Tentative word is that an agreement has been reached on the budget.
The budget that has been passed but not transmitted to Brewer would be
accompanied by trailer bills effectively changing some of the areas
the Governor didn't agree with. We'll see who gave up what but it
looks like the Governor will get the temporary tax increase on
November 2009's budget, in exchange for much deeper cuts than she

It also sounds like the Homebuilder bailout impact fee moratoriums are
out too.

I'm sure we'll hear something today or tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

2010 Watch

We're combing through the rumor mills, news stories, and blogs to give you the latest on the Governor's race in 2010.

The Arizona Guardian is twittering that millionaire Jim Pederson is out of the 2010 Governor's race. At this time, we are unsure if he intends to mount a challenge in a different race (perhaps McCain?) or if he will sit this election out.

While the Democrats appear to be clearing the field for a clean General Election for Terry Goddard, Republican infighting continues between the current Governor and legislature. The final result, although still a mystery at this time, will likely lead to a hotly contested primary. Goddard, on the other hand, has stayed well above the fray and carries no baggage from the Republicans' proposed deep budget cuts.

Combined with the national disillusionment with the current Republican Party and prominent Republicans like Mark Sanford in trouble, the Democrats may have the advantage this year.

If you have any juicy gossip or more information, please let us know at GovRace2010@yahoo.com.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bills can gather dust

The Arizona Supreme Court has ruled and they will not order the
Legislature to send the approved budget bills to the Governor. More
details to come.

The Arizona Supreme Court has ruled that the Legislature should not delay in sending the state budget bills to Gov. Jan Brewer.

But the court said it won't grant Brewer's request to compel the Legislature to send her the budget bills immediately.

"The Legislature has committed to this court that it will present the bills at issue to the Governor no later than June 30, 2009, only five working days from today," Chief Justice wrote for the court. "Under these unique circumstances, although we accept jurisdiction, in our discretion, we deny the relief requested."

The opinion was issued less than five hours after the court heard arguments in the case of Brewer v. Burns.

A full opinion will follow, McGregor wrote.

UPDATE: The Governor has released the following statement.

PHOENIX – “I agree with today’s ruling by the Arizona Supreme Court that stated: ‘The Court concludes that, after the Legislature finally passes a bill, the Legislature cannot delay presenting it to the Governor beyond that time needed to complete required ministerial duties.’ Further, the ruling states, ‘Presentment of the bills involved in this matter did not occur within the time mandated by the Arizona Constitution.’
“The Legislature should adhere to its clear constitutional and legal duties, and present me with the budget bills, passed 18 days ago, without further delay. Anything less than an expedient presentment of the bills to my office is clearly a violation of the Arizona Constitution as found today by the Supreme Court. The Legislature should not continue to hold these bills hostage, and should instead transmit the bills immediately.”

New Poll Shows Legislature to Blame for Budget Fiasco and Voter Support for Brewer Plan

The Governor rolled out a list of endorsements yesterday and today will be happy to return from court and see her inbox. I just got an email from Moore Information, who has conducted a poll of voters to see where everyone is at.

You may recall a few months ago, everyone who was anyone had a poll out there. A few showed support for a tax increase, a few showed wide rejection and there was criticism from all sides about how the polls were done and who was asked. So what came out of this one?

The Arizona State Legislature might be more unpopular than our Washington D.C. Representatives, and if the Governor's Temporary Sales Tax Proposal were on the ballot today, it would pass handily.

When asked who should be blamed if the Government shuts down on July 1st, Brewer came in at 13%, equal blame for the Gov and Legislature at 18%, and at 54% the Legislature was the one to blame.

Lining up business group is great for the Gov, but having polls like this definitely helps her case for the budget she has proposed. As was evident in other polls, the most popular way to get to a balanced budget is through big cuts and temporary revenue.

Brewer v. Burns

If you're on Twitter and you like politics, I'm sure there are plenty of people who will be Tweeting live from the proceedings that are getting underway. The Republic has a write up if you've been out of the loop on what's going on. The Court doesn't actually have to rule on it before the 30th and may not rule on it at all. So in other words, the oral arguments going on today may have no bearing on this budget at all.

Aren't politics grand??

Monday, June 22, 2009

How 'bout them apples

The Governor's Office today sent out a press release showing she's not alone in her fight for what she views is the only way to truly balance the budget in '10, '11, and '12.  The list is extensive and the groups represent quite a large constituent.  The full list can be seen here and we've previously listed some of the heavy hitters.

It's June 22nd

Eight days left to get a budget and a court case tomorrow to determine
if the politics being used by the legislature is legal. Governor
Brewer was scheduled to meet with Senate President Burns and Speaker
Adams today after staff worked through the weekend. It will be
interesting to see what will be made of the talks.

Eight days is a very short time though. Any bets on whether we'll
have a budget on the 1st of July?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Governor Names New Dep Dir of Communications

Well this might be the smartest hire yet.  One criticism that has been lobbed at the Governor is the ability to clearly and concisely deliver her messages. Having a former editor and columnist from the Republic definitely doesn't hurt when there are troubles even communicating and getting along with leadership in your own party.  

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Governor names new state land commissioner

Governor Brewer named Phoenix City Councilwoman Maria Baier as the new State Land Commissioner today.  She will resign her seat as a result of the new position.  She was elected in 2007 so someone will be appointed to fill the rest of her term.

Full Release from the Governors Office here.

Going to Court

Wow, who would have ever thought the Supreme Court would be hearing
oral arguments for Brewer v. Burns but at 10:00 AM Tuesday the party
starts. We'll have updates as we get them.

Court Docs Here and Here

On the steps of the courthouse

It always helps to imagine an expansive set of steps leading to the courthouse doors. Brewer will be on those steps talking to the media and anyone else who shows up right before or after she sues the Legislature for not giving her the bills they passed on June 4th.

This comes after dueling news conferences yesterday called when Burns left the negotiating table late Sunday night. Burns said he's still open for talks but Brewer obviously didn't feel that given the manner in which he left Sunday night.

With less than 15 days left, the likelihood of a state government shutdown is growing each day. One thing is for sure, I have forgotten the Republican rally cry of "this is all Jan's fault." Looks like they better sit down and get back on message because voters have a very short memory

AZ Republic Coverage Here

Press Release Here

KTAR Posted a picture of the Governor during her press conference

Monday, June 15, 2009

Governor Wants Action

Breaking news from the Governor press conference this morning. She
has demanded the bills be sent to her desk and has given a 5:00 PM
deadline or she will take it to the Supreme Court. She also said that
Senate President Burns walked away from negotiations and will not talk

With only 15 days left, things just got a little more crazy at the

UPDATE: So it was definitely a lively presser. Brewer demanded the bills, and the Legislative leaders basically said in a follow up conference you can't have them. It seems Brewer called the press conference after Burns walked out of a meeting they had last night feeling like he had walked away from the table.

From the Republic

Burns disputed Brewer's characterization that his action Sunday evening cut off the talks.

“Things bogged down," he said "When things bog down in negotiations, sometimes one of the parties gets up and leaves. "We certainly did not call off negotiations."
I wish I had video of the meeting. Was it, "Hey it's 8:00 and True Blood is back on HBO tonight so I'll see you guys later." Or was it, "Take your budget and shove it, I'm out of here."

The dueling banjo press conference makes me think it was closer to the latter.

The fight centers around this stack of papers

Saturday, June 13, 2009

State of Arizona on Vacation Soon?

I know half of the state heads to San Diego in July but does that mean that the actual state has to shut down?!  Sensing an impasse, it looks like Governor Brewer has instructed her staff to prepare for a state that has no budget come 11:59 PM on June 30th.  While this isn't the first time it's come down to the last minutes, the state hasn't actually shut down services in the last 20+ years. 

Last year when we came close to the wire, there was back up legislation to keep essential functions working but according to experts, not having a budget by July 1st could cause for some serious issues.

After a few false starts, could we finally make some headway this week or next?

Full Republic Article Here.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Brewer budget support continues

Governor Brewer continues to get support from the business community for the budget proposal she introduced last week.  Today, WESTMARC announced their board's support after previously endorsing her 5-Point Plan.  I would imagine this was easy for them since a few of their members are cities that have quite a lot to lose between the impact fee freeze and other fund sweeps they feel will inevitably raise taxes.

It's always an interesting dynamic when the institutional support is so heavily weighted to one side.  Except for the No-Tax grassroots advocates, no one has stepped up to publicly back the Legislature's budget.  I haven't heard a firm argument of how their budget doesn't somehow result in a tax increase also, or how they justify a much smaller deficit for next year.  By all accounts, $4 Billion might be a little high, but $3 Billion is way low. 

Anyone with answers?

Full Release Here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tentative deal in place?

Breaking news is that Senate President Bob Burns has announced an agreement to put a temporary sales tax hike on the 2010 ballot.  Sounds great and all but what about the 2010 and first half of 2011 budgets?

I'm just glad to see they are working on something.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Do you have skin in the game?

If you do, you still have time to make it down to the 2nd Floor Conference Room of the Executive tower. That is where the Governor, her staff and a whole lot of others will be from 9:15 to 2:30 to talk about the 2010 Legislative Budget.

As we mentioned before, the most glaring difference between the two budgets (other than the tax increase), is a small $900 million or so difference in the deficit. How such a huge difference you ask? I'm not positive of all the details but the one I hear the most is that the Legislators are figuring that ACCHS won't continue putting new people on the rolls. With 75K or so added in the last 3 months alone, I don't see how that's a possibility. The other difference is that the Gov's budget doesn't sweep any money from the cities. Ironically, every critic of that move has pointed to the fact that cities will be forced to raise taxes since they can't cook the books with accounting gimmicks like the state can. So much for not raising taxes.

Media Advisory for today's meeting here.

Tribune write up of the event.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Arizona Budget Lazy River

Golfland in Mesa should rename their lazy river ride the "2010 Arizona Budget."  So far we've done a lot of circling around while bobbing up and down and bumping into each other.  Meanwhile, the 2nd degree sunburn is setting in and no one seems to notice or care that it's going to sting a lot more the longer we wait. 

After months of back and forth, the House and Senate passed a budget they aren't going to give to the Governor.  They only we able to pass it because they promised she wouldn't see it, but they also are using it as a bargaining chip with her.  At east there is progress somewhere. 

One problem though, no one can agree to the size of the hole.  First, there's that little Billion Dollar discrepancy regarding the deficit.  Everything I've seen from the Legislature says $3 billion give or take $100 million.  The Gov's budget puts it at $4 Billion.  Then, the latest news is that that the Governor says the Legislative budget wipes out over a billion in stimulus money.  If that's the case, both budgets are off the table since both rely heavily on the money.

Here's what needs to happen very soon. 

Agree on the size of the deficit. At first glance, the deficit is probably not quite $4B but is definitely more than $3.5B.  It makes no sense is downright dishonest to pass a budget you know starts off in the red.  The per diem isn't much, but coming back to fix a problem you know about now, is just a waste of taxpayer money you claim to hold so dear.

Don't mess around with the stimulus money.  We know we are one of the few states chosen already for an audit so why test fate.  Lets not make national news for screwing up the stimulus money, because no one wins in the situation and we have enough problems already.  

Friday, June 5, 2009

Budget passes but what's next?

The House and Senate passed their budgets after some all night, and late night haggling but now have signaled that Governor Brewer might not ever see it on her desk.  That seems smart since it's all but guaranteed that she would veto it and further the Republican infighting. 

Lets hope this accomplishes a few things.  The Legislature has the cover they need to show they tried to pass a no tax budget.  Even by their own admission, their budget would start off in the red and would probably get worse after the lawsuits started piling in.  There has to be a middle ground with the two groups.  They better find it fast since there's less than 25 days left until the government starts shutting down.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Phoenix City Council (and others) vote to endorse Brewers Budget

While at odds with some lawmakers in the legislature, Brewer is the only one ringing up endorsements of business groups and cities. The Phoenix City Council unanimously voted to support Brewers budget proposal. I would guess more endorsements of this kind will be popping up as the line is drawn in the sand. With all parties involved having presented their appropriate budget proposals, there really aren't many other possibilities for alternative budgets that will emerge. Now all that's left is the negotiating.

UPDATE: Just when we push post, news emerges that the Arizona League of Towns and Cities have endorsed Brewer's budget proposal.

I don't have an account but AZ Guardian posted a Twitter Update saying they have endorsed it.

UPDATE 2: ASU, NAU, UofA presidents back Brewer's budget, sales tax push

AZ Republic Editorial

The Arizona Republic had a kind editorial regarding Governor Brewers budget and so far it seems like a soft endorsement.  The headline reads, "Brewer has made some tough but needed choices."

Brewer has risked her political future to do what she feels is right for the future of the state.  Agree with her or not, it's good to have someone in leadership that will do something even if it's not popular with your traditional allies. 

Republic Editorial Here.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

2010 Watch

We're combing through the rumor mills, news stories, and blogs to give you the latest on the Governor's race in 2010.

Looks like the Democratic Primary is going to heat up as the summer temperatures rise.

Not to be outdone by Jim Pederson, Attorney General Terry Goddard made it fairly clear that he will be in the race for Governor. First, walking the fine line of "resign to run" with his latest statement, "I intend to run for Governor" and then the news that Goddard and his team are out beating the bushes looking for support for when he launches his exploratory committee in June.

Also, rumors persist that former Tempe mayor and newly-minted Democrat Neil Giuliano is also considering a run. Giuliano has been out of the Arizona limelight since he left the Mayor's office in 2004, but he could provide an interesting wrinkle to the race. Some speculation is that Giuliano is using the rumors to raise his profile for a different statewide seat.

If you have any juicy gossip or more information, please let us know at GovRace2010@yahoo.com.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Brewer Releases Her Own Budget Plan

Governor Jan Brewer today released her budget proposal that officially makes it the 4th one floating out there. The R's have versions in the House and Senate, and the D's have their released last Thursday. Brewer's appears to take a page out of each.

Preliminary details include a 1-cent sales tax hike, a billion dollars in cuts, and long term reform in the way the state finances itself.

With the announcement coming out today, I'm sure we'll start hearing thoughts very shortly and I'm sure they all will start beating up on each other this week. Lets all just hope this produces a budget that fixes the problem and hopefully puts us on the road to never being in this mess again.

Full Budget Proposal

Brewer's Release with Quotes

Howie Fischer Tribune Story Here.

Republic Story Here.