Friday, September 25, 2009

Happy Birthday Governor Brewer

Governor Brewer turns 65 tomorrow. I wonder if she thought she'd enter retirement age dealing with all that she has had to this last year. When most are taking it easy and looking forward to riding off into the sunset, Brewer hasn't shown any drive to relax or slow down. We just hope that means we get a balanced budget and the state back on track.

Press Release: Governor Brewer Provides Stimulus Funds for Medically Uninsured and Underserved

Governor Brewer Provides Stimulus Funds for Medically Uninsured and Underserved

$11.6 Million awarded to the Department of Health Services for Community Health Centers

PHOENIX – Governor Jan Brewer today announced the distribution of the State Fiscal Stabilization Funds (SFSF) Government Services Fund (GSF) monies to the Arizona Department of Health Services through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

The Arizona Department of Health Services will contract with health centers in the State of Arizona to expand primary care services to Arizona’s indigent and uninsured population. DHS will be responsible for awarding and authorizing contracts associated with these funds to both federally qualified health centers and non-federally qualified health centers.

“Protecting the health and safety of the citizens of Arizona should be a priority of all elected officials, and it is my first priority as Governor,” said Governor Brewer. “I am pleased to announce the release of a portion of my stimulus discretionary funds to Arizona’s community health centers, which will help provide important medical service for many citizens across our state.”

“We are grateful to the Governor for allocating much needed funding for comprehensive primary healthcare. Community Health Centers provide vital primary and preventative healthcare to Arizonans living in medically underserved areas of the state,” said Tara McCollum Plese, Director of Government and Media Relations for the Arizona Association of Community Health Centers. “Unfortunately, the state’s fiscal crisis resulted in the virtual elimination of the funding that enables health centers to provide medical services. The state Legislature and the Governor acknowledged the tremendous need for the services. The Governor agreed to dedicate some of the federal stimulus money to the Community Health Centers. The funding will help cover over 100,000 primary care and dental visits through 2010.”

“Community health centers have a great track record because they are staffed by a variety of health professionals who work together to integrate all aspects of a person’s care,” said Will Humble, Interim Director of the Arizona Department of Health Services. “Governor Brewer’s decision to provide $11.6 million in ARRA funding to community health centers will ensure comprehensive healthcare for all Arizonans during these difficult economic times.”

For more information, please visit the State of Arizona’s stimulus funds website at


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Welcome to the "hell hole"

Don't get confused by those cool mornings and evening nights with windows open, there are still some major "hot spots" around the central Phoenix area. According to Governor Brewer, summer is sticking around and down around the capitol it's a real "hell hole." Brewer made the "hell hole" comment yesterday while speaking in a much cooler Tucson Country Club lunch.

As was pointed out on Twitter by a few people, Webster's definition of hellhole is a "place notorious for its wild or immoral activities." Personally, I will have to agree. I think it is wild and immoral that we are in September and we have neither a balanced budget for 2010 or a firm plan to ever get there.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

First to the race?

Sorry the posts have been light, a lot has been going on around the office and there hasn't been much news from the 9th floor. I was talking to a colleague today who gave an interesting insight into Vernon Parker and what is assumed to be an announcement tonight for Governor.

Parker filed his exploratory yesterday and it has been widely reported that he will announce tonight at the Politics on the Rocks event. The question is, does being the first one to enter equal the first to exit? Parker needs to enter early because his statewide name ID is small. Paradise Valley is a tiny town in the valley and Parker was only elected a year or so ago. His resume will help but all of this time also opens up the door to the critics and Parker's closet isn't exactly tidy.
What do you think? Earlier the better? Best to let the "seriously considering it" line float a little while?

Tuesday, September 15, 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.

Paradise Valley Mayor Vernon Parker has made his strongest statement yet, hinting that there is going to be a "big announcement" at his upcoming appearance at "Politics on the Rocks." Don't know how announcing his bid at a Republican cocktail party will go over with the general public, but it does play to the Republican faithful. He is also making the rounds, hitching his car to the Sheriff Joe PR locomotive. Does this mean that Joe is out of the running?

Another Paradise Valley resident who may be dipping his toe into the exploratory waters is former Governor Fife Symington. Just as he pondered entering the Republican primary a few years back to challenge Napolitano, Symington has tossed his name into the ring to see if it can fill the current Republican vacuum. Interestingly, this would have the potential of setting up Symington/Goddard II, a replay of their 1990 battle, nearly 20 years later.

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

A letter to a dear old friend...

Senate President Burns and Speaker Adams polished up the penmanship and sent Governor Brewer a letter. No, it wasn't the "have a nice vacation" type of letters but given the circumstances it wasn't all that bad either.

The letter, which follows, basically states that the line item vetoes she did in the latest budget round were unconstitutional but because of "unusual economic circumstances the state is in", they aren't going to sue her.

They are throwing her a bone here and saying, "we all know you're not allowed to do what you did but we'll give you one free pass since we all know we have to come back together and be nice." The reason I say throwing a bone is because Napolitano did the same thing and lost. So, Brewer gets a pass this time but has been put on notice that this is not something to get used to.

We write to express our concern that some of your line item vetoes to House Bills 2006 and 2011 exceed your constitutional authority. Legal counsel for the House and Senate as well as the nonpartisan Legislative Council attorneys agree that some of the line item vetoes are clearly policy determinations made by the legislature, not “items of appropriation” subject to your line item veto authority. The Arizona Supreme Court held just three years ago in 47th Legislature v. Napolitano, 213 Ariz. 489, that the Governor’s line item veto authority is limited to “items of appropriation” and does not include policy decisions made by the Legislature.

Normally we would be compelled to initiate litigation, as we have in the past, to stop constitutionally unauthorized gubernatorial line item vetoes. Because of the unusual economic circumstances that the state is in, we have in this one instance decided to refrain from seeking relief from the Supreme Court. At a time when the State is in an economic crisis, we do not want to divert attention or dollars away from a resolution of critical budgetary issues. We understand that there are unique budget considerations regarding federal maintenance of effort requirements. We believe, however, that some of these issues could have been avoided if you would have instructed your staff to be more forthcoming in the sharing of information with the Legislature concerning the status and intended uses of federal stimulus dollars.

We want to make it absolutely clear that our decision not to seek legal redress in this particular instance should not be viewed as creating any precedent for similar issues in the future. We are acquiescing in your constitutionally untenable line item vetoes because of the special circumstances involved. We are unlikely to do so again.

Thank you for attending to these concerns. We look forward to cooperating with you for the good of Arizona.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Brewer deputy chief of staff resigns

Deputy Chief of Staff Brian McNeil resigned yesterday making him the second key aide to leave the administration in the last few months. Tom Manos, who had been the governor's chief budget adviser left at the end of July after the first few rounds of budget negotiations.

No word on exactly why McNeil is leaving. He said he felt the "timing is right to explore something different." Manos was more direct when he left and said the all-nighters and grueling negotiations on the budget was taking too much of a toll on his family life.

No word on when a replacement will be made or who that person will be. Any thoughts on whether the list will be as long as those vying for the job that McNeil ultimately got?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sit down for this

You might want to make sure you are sitting down when you read this. The budget is still $1B off.

While last weeks budget moves improved the financial situation the state faces, there are still major issues to fix. $500 million is still left over from the last fiscal year (the one Napolitano was Governor for half of). $464 million is the shortfall for this year of which $360 million is vetoed cuts to education.

All sorts of problems remain to be fixed for 2010 and there are still state agencies that may just run out of money if the budget isn't fixed. There will definitely be a special session, the question now is when since the session more than likely will include another attempt at increasing revenue.

I sit here worried because it's September and we can't even fix the state budget that is 2 months old. The budget next year is even worse. We are quickly driving towards that cliff and it feels like everyone is looking at the speedometer and not out the front window.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Brewer takes action on budget

Gov. Brewer vetoed the $250 million property tax repeal along with certain cuts to education and social services using line-item vetoes. She signed the rest of the remaining bills that were sent to her late last month.

The property tax repeal was THE major bill for Republicans this session. It was also a key sticking point in negotiations with the Democrats who wanted the full tax to come back. The Governor made it clear she wanted to opportunity to ask voters for more revenue in exchange for giving up the property tax revenue so it's no big surprise that she vetoed that portion.

I would assume the plan is to offer the carrot for renewed talks on a sales tax election in exchange for repealing the property tax.

Brewer made it clear that her intention is to focus on running the state. Taking $250 million off the table with no other revenue in sight doesn't accomplish that goal so we will have to sit back and see what happens now.

UPDATE: Statement by Governor

Good afternoon.

Today I have approved a number of budget bills that will allow state government to continue important operations -- and I have vetoed legislation that needs additional work and compromise.

Just as I said last March – I will NOT give up on the future of our State. I will NOT give up on education, I will NOT give up on the fight for our most vulnerable citizens -- and I will NOT allow the state we all love to fall into the abyss of bankruptcy.

The voters of Arizona don’t want me to give up, and I WILL NOT give up on them.

Right now, Arizona faces a roughly $4 billion deficit. We are spending roughly $11 billion, and we are bringing in roughly $7 billion.

So what can we all do – in addition to my actions today -- to solve this historic problem?

This fall and in the next regular session of the Legislature, legislative leaders and I must work to break the stranglehold that a handful of Republican and Democratic EXTREMISTS have on the Arizona legislature.

We cannot cut our way out of this problem. We cannot tax our way out of this problem. BOTH solutions will be necessary to resolve this crisis, and doing both will take incredible political courage and compromise.

This is a NOT a political game. It is gravely serious. It is a time to set aside political agendas, or personal campaign agendas, and -- for once -- place our State ahead of the tired and uncivil politics of the most extreme in both Parties.

46 Republicans, all but an extreme few, have now courageously trusted the voters on the issue of a temporary one-cent sales tax.

I have always trusted the voters during my 27 years as an elected official, and 46 Republicans have demonstrated – SO DO THEY!

Whether it is now -- or whether it is in the next several weeks -- the handful of extremists on the fringes of the Legislature will see the deeper and more painful cuts that will be necessary because of their delays on resolving the state deficit. Every month that goes by only makes the deficit and the pain more severe.

My actions today -- and the clean-up bill I have proposed -- will allow our State to weather the storm at least until the next regular session of the Legislature.

Until then, the voters of this State can be confident that we will continue to prioritize education, public safety, and protect our state’s most vulnerable.

Let me reiterate once more: I am NOT giving up, I am NOT surrendering, I am NOT abandoning what the people of Arizona want me to do. I am doing what is right, and I believe they know that.

I would be happy to answer a few questions…

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Brewer signs one bill, the real stuff comes tomorrow

Governor Brewer signed the bill authorizing funding for DPS today and signaled her intention to address the rest of the budget bills tomorrow. She made a surprise appearance today at the League of Cities conference in Tucson and reiterrated her call for the voters to decide on the sales tax issue.

Reports have it that she's still working with Senate Dems to come up with a compromise and it sounds like the equalization property tax is the central piece. The biggest question that remains is whether Brewer will sign the budget she previously vetoed, veto it again, or line item veto some parts including the tax repeal.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A conference minus one

The annual Border Governors Conference will have an empty seat this week as Governor Brewer has decided to cancel her trip and stay at home to work on the budget. Originally planned to make the trip to Monterrey, Mexico, Brewer would have left Attorney General Terry Goddard in charge in her absence.

It's highly unlikely Goddard would have done anything with the budget but it's smart for Brewer to stay in the state. This is especially so if she plans to veto parts of the budget and approve others. She also hasn't given up on finding a bipartisan solution to fix the issue and let the voters have a crack at it in December.

Only a few days left folks, well at least for this round. It's now just a formality since anything since we're going to be back here soon anyways since none of the solutions are permanent fixes.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The budget might get signed, but who's signature will it be?

So we've seen our fair share of weird things happen this year in Arizona politics. Imagine this scenario.

Jan Brewer acends to the Governor's office after Janet Napolitano resigns leaving Brewer to negotiate budget fixes for the '09 budget, and a balanced budget for '10. After vetoing it the first time around, an almost carbon copy budget lands on the Governor's desk at the end of yet another special session. Governor Brewer now had 10 days to sign it or let it go into law without her signature.

Brewer, scheduled to leave the state for three days to Mexico, leaves Attorney General Terry Goddard as acting governor. Using his authority, Goddard vetoes the unpopular "Republican" budget.

Maybe this might be a good opportunity for Goddard to officially take a stand on the budget. Heck, many feel that Napolitano created the mess we're in so this will be a good opportunity to provide a solution and ramp up that governor's campaign.

Something tells me Brewer will be signing the budget today.