Friday, July 31, 2009

Re-post stories???

So I'm wondering if I should just repost stories from the beginning of the month.  Although it was a closer call last night then on the 30th, the House got their business done, approving the budget, special election and of the other tax cuts but the Senate was held up by a member or two.  It sounds like Gorman is the final dissenting no vote with Gould being a staunch no vote from the get go (Not Ron Gould by the way has had some zingers). 

It really is amazing that more cuts than tax revenue isn't enough for the ideologues.  With the cuts being a sure thing and the temporary tax increase, in their eyes, a sure to fail proposal; what is to gain here?  

So it looks like next Tuesday is the day.  The Dems meanwhile have their talking points and are sticking to them.  Even Terry Goddard has chimed in after being silent through the entire process.  While I don't blame them for saying the things they are, their proposals have been unrealistic and too far to the left to be considered viable options.  Some would say true leaders (even when in minority positions) come up with good ideas that actually have a chance to be implemented.  Every proposal I saw from them was just too far out in left field to even be considered.  

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

News Conference

A news conference has been called for 4:00 PM and it includes the
Governor, Speaker Adams, and Senator Burns.
Details have leaked out but seem to change by the minute. The latest
is a temporary tax over three years of 1%, 1%, .5%.
We'll post all the giving and taking with the final proposal when it's

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Budgets and Polls and Judges Oh My!

Busy day today so I'll try and wrap it up with the big stuff.  Basically, it can be summed up that this week is a big one for the Governor.  

A deal must be reached by  Friday for a special November election on a temporary sales tax.  Rumor has it the votes are there and they are just fine tuning the details and working out the last bit of negotiation.  If the far right conservatives are smart, they'll negotiate spending freezes or other permanent measures in exchange for a temporary tax.  Who knows how much longer they'll be in the majority so you might as well get what you can now.

A new poll by the national polling firm Rasmussen is out today.  This is hot on the heals from the Realtor's sponsored poll showing wide support for the temporary tax.  The Rasmussen Poll has a couple of keys questions in it I'm sure the Governor and every Legislator has looked at.  First, the sales tax question came out 57% Yes, 38%, No 5% Not Sure.  Close to the numbers we've been hearing in the first 3 or 4 polls.  Other  questions were job approval by the Gov- 48% approval.  Brewers handling of the budget crisis- 76% Fair or better.  Legislature's handing of the budget crisis- only 55% fair or better.  So tell me again, with all of this cover why are some legislators still so intent on fighting it?  Principles isn't an answer either- remember, these 90 people are politicians.  

Finally, Brewer announced today that Arizona Court of Appeals Judge John Pelander will be the newest Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court.  He's a Tucson attorney and judge first appointed to the AZ Court of Appeals by Governor Fife Symington.

Monday, July 27, 2009

What ever happened to Napolitano's PAC?

Back in 2007, then-Governor Janet Napolitano opened her Competitive Edge PAC with a great deal of fanfare and speculation that it was a precursor to a run for Senate. Two years later, the PAC goes out with a wimper, shutting down in May of this year. You can check out the complete financial disclosure right here.

There are a lot of interesting tidbits within the reports, including the fact that it appears that the PAC was never really able to raise more than $300,0000. Not quite the powerhouse PAC that was predicted at the launch. We're sure more research would reveal even more tidbits, but the final disbursements is what really caught our eye. The PAC itself held on to nearly $170,000 until the end, spending very little comparitively during the 2008 Election Cycle.

In the termination report, this is how they spent their final money:

The Arizona Democratic Party - $5000
Harry Mitchell for Congress - $10,000
Pastor for Arizona - $10,000
Giffords for Congress - $10,000
A Whole Lot of People for Grijalva - $10,000
Kirkpatrick for Arizona - $10,000

The committee has 3 main consultants on the payroll, who received money not only in the termination statement, but throughout its time in operation. Here is just what they received in the final report:

The Copperstate Group received $15,000. Not to be confused with Stan Barnes and the Copperstate Consulting Group, this Arizona/DC based consulting group received the bulk of the consulting fees from the PAC during its operation. The business is run by another in Napolitano's orbit, Michael Frias, who is the former campaign director for the Arizona Democratic Party.

CommonCentsConsulting, LLC received $3,000. This group is run by democratic operatives Darryl Tattrie and Richard Luckhard-Tattrie who have made thousands of dollars in donations to Democratic causes over the past few years.

Rankin Consulting, LLC received $2,000. Devin Rankin is the former deputy finance director and current development director for the Arizona Democratic party. Also, Rankin also worked for Bob Lord for Congress and finance consultant for the PAC during the same exact period of time. Was Rankin being paid by the PAC to help Lord?

The Committee disbursed its final $87,000 to AERO an economic development group founded and operated by Napolitano's friends and former employees. The group is also managed by Sal Rivera who helped launch the PAC in the first place.

In the end, it appears that the Competive Edge PAC was little more than a short lived slush fund for Napolitano to reward her friends and bankroll Democrat loyalists.

Friday, July 24, 2009

How many is this now?

So maybe that whole hubbub about a tax actually passing is really why they're so against it.  I'll say this, with each new poll that comes out it's kind of hard to dispute that it's probably what the voters want.  This is at least the third poll released (rumors have it there are polls conducted by other uber-conservative groups that have been buried for obvious reasons) that shows overwhelming support for a temporary sales tax.  

I still haven't gotten a real good reason why the people of Arizona can't possibly have the opportunity to weigh in one way or another on this issue.  Lets vote already and move on.  

Thursday, July 23, 2009

We're in the money, we're in the money!!

Oh wait...we're still a few billion short to balance the budget?
Dang! Well, I guess we can't complain too much since it's a TON of
free money (I know, it's really our money...okay our grandkids' money).

The state received $61 Million from the feds earlier than we
expected. The governor will use the money for education, healthcare,
public safety and economic development. The money is to be used at
the discretion of the governor and I'd sure love to have $61 mil in my
bank account!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Brewer applies for H1N1 Grant Funds

Governor Brewer today submitted an application to the Federal
Government for $7 million in grant funds with the goal of being better
prepared for flu season this year. The Swine Flu news has died down
compared to its height, but it is still considered a major problem
likely to pop up again in force soon. The application appears to be
in conjunction with indian tribes throughout the state.

While not on par with a Katrina like disaster since it's a worldwide
issue, not being prepared when flu season kicks off could be a big no
no so it's good the office is taking steps.

Someone's got a case of the Monday's

Only 12 senators and 26 House members showed up today so both chambers adjourned until next week without a quorum today. I'm really glad there is NO urgency to get anything fixed with the budget. They probably feel it's okay since they aren't getting paid but it might be time to start taking some money back. They didn't finish the job when they were supposed to so why pay them for the work?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Signed bills, a few vetoes, and a special election?

Just because I'm reading Howie Fischer print it doesn't mean I actually fully believe it. That's just how it seems to have gone this Legislative Session. The Governor signed 190 (yes only 190!) bills and vetoed 22. The biggest headline grabbers are the guns in bars (no this isn't The Onion), abortion restrictions, and sparklers vetoes.

The other story to come out is that the GOP might be ready to give the thumbs up to the special election for a temporary sales tax. Most of those hesitant all along are saying they'll only go along with it since it seem inevitable and will start campaigning against the tax immediately. A few are saying they'll use the opportunity to try and get some reforms that may offset the tax (something we've been saying for months now by the way).

That won't stop Ron Gould though (not to be confused with NotRonGould). He motioned to end the Special Session yesterday but was met with crickets. He definitely is in the running for the MOST conservative in the Senate and I'm sure his feelings aren't that hurt that he was left standing alone after his motion.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Brewer's Prayers Being Answered?

The Governor has a day job but by the sounds of it might be a convincing pastor after she's done running the state.  Brewer went to Gilbert last night to participate in the East Valley Bible Church's weekly meeting that is open to the public.  In case anyone was wondering how serious Brewer was, or if she knew what she was risking, the following quote is pretty telling.

Where the prayers are being answered comes later in the article.  The reporter surveyed and got quotes from a few people and it looked like after hearing what Brewer had to say, they understood and were more open to a tax increase.  This is probably why many of the hard right conservatives are adamant about not letting it go to a vote.   When the information gets out and the severity of the problem is presented, people seem to understand and be more open to a temporary tax.  The polling data seems to show that and now that's a main argument by those most opposed by it.  I guess we don't know what's best for us or what we really want.

Brewer begins bill signing

Governor Brewer signed the first 19 bills of the post-session with
the biggest headline grabbers being the Veteran Benefits bills. She
still had about 165 bills left to sign, veto, or allow to go into law
without her signature. A full list will be available on Tuesday and
I'm sure we'll hear some crying because she's bound to veto a few bills.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Brewer to OK budget deal

Governor Brewer was expected to spend some time Wednesday with a pen signing into law the state budget deal approved on Monday. The bills, meant to ensure funding for public education set to expire on the 15th also protects more than $2 billion in stimulus money.

It looks like the enormity and reality of the situation might be catching up to a few people. Brewer has dug her heels in and has said that since the Legislature won't pass it, she wants the voters to have the final decision. Russell Pearce has said that for a few weeks and President Bob Burns admits now it's probably time. Most of these lawmakers have commented that they are positive it will fail, which brings me to this conclusion. They are deathly afraid and know it will probably pass. If it failed it would be a mandate for cuts and they would have an open ticket to all the cuts they wanted and more. If it passed, they have the cover they need for their constituents because this was a voter approved tax.

The irony of this whole mess is that the new budget is around $2 billion out of whack as we speak. The Governor and Legislators will have to work over the next few months to fill the holes. As a noble gesture, our elected representatives will forgo pay while they aren't working. Now only if we can not pay them unless they actually do the job they were elected to do.

Press Release about Bill signing

Monday, July 6, 2009

First step to compromise...

Well, at least they are starting off getting along. I'm on the road so the following is copied from the Republic.

Legislative leaders have reached a bipartisan agreement that would restore K-12 funding and make other budget changes necessary to preserve the state's receipt of more than $2 billion in federal stimulus funding, The Arizona Republic has learned.

The deal, details of which are yet to be formally released, comes on the first day of a special session ordered last week by Gov. Jan Brewer. Once the package is approved, which may come as early as today, rank-and-file lawmakers would be able to return to their home districts. The special session would remain open, though lawmakers would not receive per diem, and legislative leaders would continue to negotiate with Brewer regarding other budget issues, most notably her continued insistence on a temporary tax increase.

If a further agreement was reached with Brewer on the tax and other issues, lawmakers would return to the Capitol to consider it. That could come any time between two weeks and two months from now.

Brewer's office has not yet indicated how she views the proposal.

At least we won't be wasting any more money on per diem they don't deserve.

Will a weekend of BBQ'ing and fireworks prevent fireworks at the capitol?

My first inclination would be to say no. Considering Senate President
Burns probably feels like a National Lampoons movie, this is not the
Summer Vacation he had planned. Hopefully he grilled some bratwurst
this weekend because as of now that's about as close to Germany as
he's getting. About an hour from now, the Legislature is scheduled to
come back early from vacation to start a special session called by the
Governor. On the agenda is another go at a special election to let
the voters decide on a tax increase.

Over the weekend I did a lot of thinking and reading. As we declared
our independence in 1776, we did so not because we were against
taxation, but because we were against taxation without
representation. As we sit here on July 6th, our representatives have
failed to come up with a budget that is either balanced or will win
the approval of the final signature needed. One of the great things
our State Constitution allows is the ability for the citizens to
decide in essence the laws of the state.

If our representatives have failed to come to a compromise in the
expected timeframe, is it time for the citizens to have the final
say? Is voting for a tax increase and allowing the voters to decide
on one really the same thing if a compromise on a balanced budget
cannot be had?

Friday, July 3, 2009

Let the mud and flaming arrows fly

There is a full out attack on the Executive Tower and they are fighting back from the top of the castle.  I think anyone would be hard pressed to find another time when intra-party fighting was this ugly.  

Senate President Burns started with the first shot.  His flaming arrow was "It appears the governor is having problems managing the level of responsibility to which she has been elevated."  Ouch.

The fireball from the 9th floor- "Politics is often very difficult, and President Burns has a tremendous leadership burden.  I continue to have respect for him as he struggles to fulfill the challenges of his office."

Regardless of the the outcome with the referendum or the budget, can the Republicans recover from this and maintain any control in 2010?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Sine Die for now

Well there you have it.  After an all nighter the budget was passed and the gavel struck at 7:30 calling an end to the most dysfunctional legislative session in the history of Arizona.  I can comfortably call it that since 5 days from now, everyone will be back to do it all again.

The Governor today used her line item veto to mark out the parts of the budget she didn't like and was only willing to put up with if there was going to be an election in November for a temporary sales tax increase.  Well, that never made it to the floor to be voted on by either legislative body.  Brewer today called a special session bringing them all back with the agenda to fix the issues and pass the special sales tax.  The state in the meantime is still functioning but nothing would surprise me at this point so I wouldn't say we're out of the woods.  

Lots of stuff to read so here are the links.