Friday, August 28, 2009

You are a weak girly man

So our Governor isn't Arnold and doesn't have a think Austrian accent but the message is the same. Governor Brewer didn't hold back on legislators that won't vote to let the voters decide on a tax increase.

Taking a page from Dwight Eisenhower, she said "The truth is, those of us who are entrusted with the government here in Arizona at this moment in time cannot be weak or timid," she said. "We must be strong. And we must resolve that our differences will be settled, with the triumph going to the best interests of Arizona rather than the best interests of political egos or political futures."

While Brewer didn't name names, it's not hard to find out who they are. Anyone with a D behind their name is on that list along with 4 Republican Senators. The two that take the most heat are Sens. Gorman and Gould. Gould gets the press this time from Howie Fischer.

He plays the old song and dance about how it won't be a fair fight. I always HATE when politician say that. If Gould outspent his opponent in his own race, does that mean they were tricked? How then does he explain the Employer Sanction's revisions on the ballot last year that he supported? They outspent everyone 10-1 yet lost 60-40. Or the payday loan reforms that still lost 70-30? I'd love an explanation there Sen. Gould.

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.

Governor Brewer has given her strongest indication that she will run for a full term in 2010. Her admission of "leaning" towards a run may have implications on the likes of other would-be candidates such as Dean Martin or Vernon Parker. However, there is a question of if Brewer's future is tied to a tax election.

The article poses another scenario as well, if Brewer does not decide to run, would she possibly turn the keys over to Goddard? If Brewer were to step down, Secretary of State Bennett would not get the job because he was appointed. Just as Babbitt succeeded Bolin, Goddard would rise to the position of Governor from the Attorney General.

Goddard, a somewhat passive observer in the budget process to this point, would then be thrust front and center into a budget debate that has the potential of being even worse than this year. This would also restrict the presumptive Democratic front-runner to run for re-election for only a single term. Brewer clearly has options on how to play her cards.

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

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Good comment worth reposting- The Real Ronald Regan

Sometimes I get a kick out of the uber-conservatives that quote Ronald Regan and his tax policies. What they sometimes forget, or fail to mention, is that Regan also presided over some of the largest tax increases in modern history. Thank you Bob Haran for his insightful comment.

How Reagan Closed Budget Gap

Many people who calls themselves Reagan Conservatives forget that before Ronald Reagan was elected as President of the United States in 1980, he was governor of California from 1967-75.

Reagan's election as governor in 1966 was his first public office. During the 1964 presidential campaign he served as cochairman of California Republicans for Goldwater.

After defeating incumbent Democrat Governor Pat Brown with 58 percent of the vote, Governor Reagan went on to establish a conservative record in restricting the size and cost of state government.

Just as Republican Arizona Governor Jan Brewer inherited a huge budget deficit from Democrat Governor Janet Napolitano, Republican California Governor Ronald Reagan inherited a huge budget deficit from Democrat California Governor Pat Brown.

What did Reagan do, how did he handle the budget disaster he inherited from his Democrat predecessor. Reagan immediately ordered a hiring freeze of new state employees and then cut the state budget across the board by 10 percent.

The father of Reaganomics did something else that may come as a shock to the blind followers of Grover Norquist and Americans for Tax Reform. Working with a cooperative state legislature, Reagan was able to obtain an increase of the state income tax together with welfare reform legislation that striped the less needy from the rolls and increased benefits for those that met higher eligibility requirements. By cutting expenses and increasing revenue, Reagan was able to close the budget deficit he inherited from his Democrat predecessor.

Fast forward 40 years and doesn't that sound familiar? Isn't that the same as what Conservative Republican Governor Jan Brewer is trying to do to solve Arizona's budget problem, cut expenses and increase revenue? It seems that the only difference between what Reagan did and what Brewer is advocating is instead of raising the income tax, Arizona will cut the income tax to stimulate spending and temporarily increase the sales tax by one penny to increase revenue to help close the gap. .

There is one important difference between Reagan and Brewer however, Reagan didn't have uncooperative state senators like Pamela Gorman and Ron Gould obstructing solving his budget crisis, Brewer and Arizona does.

Bob Haran,
American Conservative Republican

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sine Die....Again

The Legislature adjourned from their special session this afternoon which gives the Governor until the 5th of September to sign or veto the budget passed last week.  There are still talks going on between the Republicans and the Dems with hopes a deal can be made to send the tax proposal to the ballot and let the voters decide.  The Governor can call another special session if and when a deal is reached so all eyes will be on what comes out of those talks.  

Monday, August 24, 2009

Le Templar on the Governor and the sales tax

Le Templar of the Tribune had a good blog today summing up why Governor Brewer has been so set on a tax increase.  The bullet points are-

Can't cut budget enough to solve crisis

Arizonans loath higher taxes, except the sales tax 

No other (Republican) proposals for new revenues have been offered

Brewer doesn't lose

Take a minute and read it here- it's a very good summation of why we are here at the end of August talking about a budget.

Friday, August 21, 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.

Yet another Republican is considering throwing his hat in the ring in what may turn out to be a crowded primary. Paradise Valley Mayor Vernon Parker has stated that he is interested in entering the 2010 race for Governor. Parker is a veteran of the Salmon and Munsil campaigns which both came up short of victory to Janet Napolitano. Parker has also had a few troubles in the past, and despite his claims to the contrary, he might have some troubles escaping phrases such as "falsely certified" and "under investigation."

Parker's term in Paradise Valley does not end until June of 2012, so if he does seek the top office, it looks like he would have to resign his post in Paradise Valley. It might be a good time for Parker to leave in the aftermath of having to cut $3 million from PV's budget and slashing 15 to 20% of the town's workforce.

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

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The budget is in the elevator

The budget has been officially passed now and is on its way up to the Governor Brewer's desk. The Legislature is adjourned until Tuesday so the governor has some signing or vetoing to do. Word was there was an effort to wrangle up 7 or 8 Dems to go for a hybrid version of the budgets passed to date but that doesn't appear to be finalized yet.

We'll see if Brewer will immediately veto this budget or continue working through the weekend to work something up. She might just sign it also since Dean Martin seems to think the deadline is tomorrow if we want to borrow money anytime soon.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Legislature okay property tax repeal and Gorman lobbying

So we knew this was going to happen since Speaker Adams pretty much said so.  Both houses approved the property tax repeal that actually went into effect on Monday.  As a last ditch effort, Speaker Adams threw the Governor a bone and didn't technically fully approve the bill.  He didn't say "and transmit the bill to the Senate."  Both chambers adjourned until Thursday so tomorrow evidently will be spent looking for votes.

One vote everyone seems to be lobbying right now is Pam Gorman.  This video has been making the rounds and is pretty well done.


Laurie Roberts of the Republic asks WWJD- as in What Will Jan Do sign the budget or veto what is basically the same budget she vetoed before.  So put yourself in Jan's shoes, what would you do?  If you sign it, you sign a budget you know is out of balance and makes you wish the world ended before having to deal with the 2011 budget.  If you veto it, you risk the state running out of money and then you're really in a world of hurt- if it's even possible to be worse then we are now.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Winners and Losers in the Arizona Budget Mess

Arizona’s budget has hit another dead-end, and at this point, it is anyone’s guess when this problem will finally be resolved. Despite solid support in the House, the negotiated Republican budget gained a surprising 14 votes in the Senate, but has been unable to gather support from the extreme ends of the Republican Party or anyone from the left. In fact, some may find it important to note that not a single Democrat has supported the budget package thus far. In this current hyper-partisan environment, even a whiff of defection is attacked with great force.

It would be easy to say that there are no winners in this budget farce, but the reality is, the Democrats, the Republicans, and the Governor all have opportunities to walk away from this budget process claiming victory or being the ones painted with defeat. How these groups move forward from here will determine the final outcome.

The Democrats

The Democrats have done a good job of being a silent minority. They have kept their mouths shut while the Republicans faction fight, offering up ideas, that have been deemed by most as complicated and not very realistic. However, their efforts have been enough to keep the blame off of them and on the Republicans, a strategy focused on 2010, where AG Terry Goddard likely running for the top-spot uncontested.

How they Win: If the Republicans continue to falter and fight among themselves, the Democrats can continue their waiting game and come out on top. If the fighting lasts long enough, the Governor and several Republicans will have no choice but to come back to the table and negotiate. This will mean fewer cuts to the budget, which will likely lose Republican votes. The Democrats would then have to carry the water, but then they could also claim that they were able to succeed where their Republican counterparts could not. Ultimately, if the Republicans don’t show up, the Dems will have a real chance to gain some seats.

How they Lose: How soon the Democrats forget how the Napolitano budgets were formed. A coalition of the middle must work with the Governor to get a budget done that is viewed by most as the best possible compromise. Calling out the Governor is not a good start to that process. The worst case scenario is the Republicans figuring out how to pass a budget without the vote of a single Democrat, which could be used next year to point to their unwillingness to solve the budget problem. They run a risky gamble by not voting for the tax increase, the game of chicken may leave them with deeper cuts and no new source of revenue.

The Republicans

The Republicans hold the majority of both the House and the Senate. In theory, they should have the best chance of getting things done. However, fights over revenue, cuts, and the depth of the current budget problem have lead to a battle of ideologies. The Governor has held steadfast to her desire for a sales tax referral, which has since been tempered by a net tax cut by the leaders in the House, yet a referral is still completely unpalatable to some of the most conservative members in the Senate.

How they Win: It seems simple enough, but Republicans win if they can figure out a way to get a budget passed. The protracted session will be something that they will have to overcome, but getting something done now, will give them time to recover. If they pass the referral, they can campaign against the initiative, if they choose, and still get credit for allowing the voters to decide. If they can find a way to pass a budget without a referral, it will be claimed as a greater victory for the far-right conservatives, but it would be tempered by the further cuts that would need to be made later in the year. The Republicans need to prove that they can lead coming out of this budget process.

How they Lose: Imagine this scenario – the budget negotiations drag on for several more weeks with even more bitter Republican on Republican rancor. The Governor turns to the Democrats for negotiations, a move that further angers the far-right, prompting a potential candidate such as Treasurer Dean Martin to throw his hat in the Republican primary. Martin, who is in the same position as Goddard where he can comment, but doesn’t need to actually offer up a solution, proceeds to criticize the Governor and any Republicans willing to negotiate with her, creating even more tension in the legislature. The final result is a disaster for Republicans, resulting in a cobbled together budget reminiscent of Napolitano where the Democrats control the negotiations with a couple of Republicans from swing districts who must desperately avoid dramatic cuts. Any Republicans willing to negotiate would face the same criticisms and attacks in the Primary as those who voted for Napolitano’s budget next time around, and the others who don’t support the budget face the question of if they can lead.

The Governor

The Governor has made her intentions clear from the beginning that a tax referral must be a part of the budget package to give voters a choice on how much they want to cut from state government. While the move has created controversy within the Republican party, it’s a move that allows the Governor to claim issues such as education and healthcare, which are swing issues among important groups such as Republican an Independent women. Beyond the need for the tax, sometimes, the Governor has not been clear on what she is looking for, a fact not only has made her the target of Republican attacks, but the Democrats have focused in on her as well, capitalizing on the budget to question her leadership.

How She Wins: There are really two ways for the Governor to win. First, if she can actually get the sales tax to the ballot along with the net tax cuts, she will be able to claim total victory. This will mean either getting one or two more Republican senators to come along or landing a rouge Democrat who wants to cut a deal. With the Senate passing the budget deal that they already presented to her several weeks ago, there is a dark horse option for the Governor to consider. She could sign the Republican budget, leaving the Democrats holding the bag. She could explain how she wanted the better package that saved education, and blame a hyper-partisan nature of Democrats in the legislature who were unwilling to come along. Many forget that, despite tough opponents, the Brewer has never lost an election. Giving her a scapegoat and then moving on to mending fences with the conservatives give her the potential to make the cuts while still holding the “did her best to save education” chip.

How She Loses: The scenario spelled out in the Republican loss section is also likely the worse case option for the Governor, especially if she wants to seek re-election. Her veto of the budget has won her some favor among the supporters of education and the independents, but it does provide harm on the conservative side. A far-right conservative such as Martin, Len Munsil, or Andrew Thomas could challenge her in the primary and wage a bloody battle. Two scenarios could happen: One, the ultra conservative wins the Primary while Goddard runs uncontested. This leaves Goddard to stay more moderate, while the Conservative would go far-right in the Primary, and thus create positions that lose swing groups such as Republican women in the General. Or the second and more likely scenario is that since seated Governors rarely lose primary contests, chances are that Brewer would make it through, but not without being weakened significantly. The result would be a split Republican base not showing up for Brewer, leaving Goddard to snatch a victory.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Legislators Pass Property Tax Increase

The headline isn't that far off. While they didn't directly pass a
tax increase, the fact they failed to pass a bill repealing the soon
to be reinstated property tax, it will go into effect on Monday. So
if your house is worth $176,200, you just got a $58 a year tax
increase. Businesses? Forget about it! 40 cents per $100 of
assessed value. Isn't this what these Legislators have been fighting
for all of these months?

Republic Version Here
Tribune Version Here

UPDATE: Evidently, Burns and Adams plan to kill the tax one way or another.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Opinion from Supreme Court Released

The Supreme Court came out with their full opinion today. Basically, they agreed with the Governor becasue they agreed it caused "direct injury" to her by withholding the bill until the last second (actually, after the last second if we're getting technical here). This is all kind of a moot point but actually may still come to help the governor next year when I'm sure we'll be in this same situation on June 30th.

I read through part of it and although the State Constitution doesn't set a time line, it does say "when finally passed". The court agreed that when means now, not when you feel like it.

Comments from the Governor Here.

Governors Statement on Budget Breakdown Part III

The Governor released a statement on the latest round of budget meltdowns.

“I trust the people of Arizona. But, I am deeply disappointed that some Members of the Arizona State Senate do not. They have so little trust in the voters, that they would once again delay the passage of a sound state budget, and deny the people an opportunity to protect critical funding for education, public safety, and care for our most vulnerable citizens. Their actions are irresponsible, create an increasing cost to state taxpayers and, if not resolved quickly, will do irreparable harm to our families and our economic future....

Here is the link for the continued release

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

And.....we're back to square 1

Wow.  Seriously wow.  That's all I really have to say.  In a non-surprising turn of events the Senate today voted against the key provision in Brewer's budget.  In other words, they are sending the exact same budget that she vetoed on June 30th.  

Seriously people.  For the good of the state, just resign.  We get your ideology.  We understand you think you are better than everyone else.  It's time for you to go now.  In case you don't know who you are- it would be you Gorman and Gould.  Every one of your major special interest groups, including King Norquist himself, endorsed the latest budget package, including letting the voters decide.  Yet there you are, oblivious to what it means to be a leader.  

So what's in store now?  Well, a whole lot of irony.  The Governor has to veto the bill.  If it didn't work a month and a half ago, it ain't flying now.  My guess is she'll get some Democrats.  This is where the irony comes in.  Democrat votes come with concessions.  Which means, the tax cuts will be a little lower, the tax increase a little wider or a combination of both.  Dems didn't vote for the package how it was, they won't vote for it after you buried it.  So instead of taking a big Christmas gift and going home, you might have given up your last negotiating chip.  How's that ideology working out for you now?

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.

Another Republican has jumped into the race for governor. Relatively unknown and self-described "Republican activist" Robert Graham has entered the race for the GOP primary. It appears that this might be the investment banker's first time running for office. Graham joins the string of relatively unknowns lining up to run, the question now is if he is willing to invest his own fortune in the race to raise his name ID.

The bigger news is that a higher profile candidate in the GOP primary may be in the wings. Yesterday, Treasurer Dean Martin said that he would ponder a run for Governor. Martin is not one to shy away from media attention, so we have to take this at pure speculation at this point. However, a protracted budget process which he has been able to stay out of combined with a record of fiscal conservatism would suit him well. The only potential wildcard is how older voters would react to his age, Dean Martin is only 34 years old.

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

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

No vote today and no election in November

Well, no vote today on sending the tax measure to the ballot. When and if the vote does happen, it won't be for a November 3rd election. Sources at the Secretary of States office say it looks like the date will be December 8th at the earliest. That is of course, if and when a vote happens at the legislature.

Next day update: Here is the Republic article on the changing election date.

Arizona the Anti-California?

There was a good op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today.  It was yet another endorsement of the Governor's budget plans which now include corporate tax cuts and property tax cuts that are permanent, and a temporary sales tax increase ending after three years.  

No vote today afterall

It was expected today would be the day the legislature voted on referring the tax increase to the ballot along with massive tax cuts.  Well, we've written that post and we'll probably write it again.  Alas, it appears today will not be the day.  Shocking I know.  Everyone has given their blessing to this but there are still a few hold outs including all of the Democrats.  We'll stay tuned to all of the developments and I'm sure will post on the next three or four flip flops.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Former Mesa Superitendent Debra Duvall Named Special Advisor

Recently retired Superintendent of Mesa Public Schools has been named a special advisor to the Governor today to help with Arizona's participation in "Race to the Top" educational reform program.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A little break from State Politics

While we've been wrapped up in the drama of Arizona State politics, there is plenty of national stuff going on.  Guess what, it involves Governor Brewer.  Well, only kind of.  A press release today shed light on a letter sent by House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Ranking Member Darrell Issa (R-CA) to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.  The press release is titled "Issa to Emaniel: Back Off!" The contents are pretty great and they surround letters sent from various cabinet members to Governor Brewer asking her opinion and desire to continue receiving stimulus funds.  

Gould for Gorman?

Okay, we know politicians like their egos to be stroked but is this really a time for ego stroking? Why do I say ego stroking? Because that's exactly what Ron Gould throwing his hat into the Majority Whip race is. In case you didn't hear, Sen Pamela Gorman resigned today as Majority Whip.

In her letter she said "this tax increase is tearing our otherwise strong caucus apart and is 'taking on a life of its own' that is not healthy for our caucus, nor our party." She quickly forgets that she is one of only 2 or maybe 3 Senators that are left voting no. I understand her feelings but when you have Senators like Jack Harper voting yes after doing something we've been saying they should do for months (negotiate radical changes they want in exchange), it's a little ridiculous. Harper got comfortable doing it because the cuts are permanent while the tax could fail.

My favorite line from her resignation letter is quoting all of the wonderful successes of the session. including "solid Republican" bills. Tell me Senator, would those bills have had a chance with a Democrat Governor or Minority Republican status in either house? Don't think so.

No word yet on Governor Brewer's reaction to the change. The Senate is still meeting today but with Senator Chuck Gray on a cruise I don't think they have the votes. Gee, I wish my boss would let me skip out on work for a week.

E.J. Montini from the Republic had this to say. I'm sure he's probably off Gorman's Christmas Card list but then probably wasn't on there to start with.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Round of Applause for holding out this long

I tip my hat to Tom Manos, the now former Deputy Chief of Staff for Finance.  Effective today he is retiring for the administration.  I can't say I blame him and bravo for staying on the extra month.  When it was clear there is still a lot of work to do on the budget I think he figured now was the best time.  I saw him give a presentation and he certainly knew his stuff.  

Eileen Klein will be taking his place and I have heard nothing but good things about her.  Hopefully they'll be done with this budget and can start focusing on fixing the issues that will certainly pop up in the '10 budget and the tsunami which is the '11 budget.  I'm sure Manos is going to really enjoy his first weekend in a long long time.