Phoenix, AZ – Much of the hour-long debate centered around the state budget.
Buz Mills took out after incumbent Jan Brewer for pushing voters
to enact a temporary one-cent sales tax to raise about a billion
dollars a year for three years. He said that would not have been
necessary had the governor cut spending.
(This was a $3 billion tax increase in the worst economy this
state has ever seen since statehood. And the economic policies of
your administration are going to keep us in this recession
longer, wider and deeper. We have got to stop this train now
before we run off the cliff.)
Brewer shot back that Mills has never provided a specific plan of
exactly where he would cut spending.
(You know, there are certain mandates, not only from the federal
government but from the voters. And the dollars aren't there.)
Mills insisted that Brewer hasn't come up with a balanced budget
either, what with both the tax hike and borrowing.
(And that's your job, not mine.)
Matthew Jette sided with Brewer in saying the tax hike was
necessary. And he chided both Mills and Dean Martin for opposing
(I voted for Prop 100, right? And I think you two turned your
back on education, health care and public safety. I think that is
despicable in the state of Arizona, when we rank 50th in
education and we're turning people away on AHCCCS.)
But Martin stuck to his position the tax was a bad idea and said
voters essentially were terrorized into approving it by being
told that teachers would be fired.
(There's plenty of waste in state government that you can get rid
of before you cut the front-line teacher. That was done on
purpose to try to get people to vote for this, scare them to
death. They loaded a very real gun and pointed it at our
education system. That's the last thing you should have been
reducing, not the first thing.)
(Prop 100 was shoved down people's throats. I heard the governor
in Prescott tell people we're going to turn off the life support,
we're going to open the jail doors, we're going to fill up the
classrooms, everybody's going to suffer if you don't vote for
But Brewer said that education funding was at the point where
further cuts made no sense and chided Martin and Mills for saying
they would find places to save money.
(I think, basically, that the cutting that we have done already
to education has pretty much probably has cut into the bone. When
we talk about waste and mismanagement and fraud, those are easy
words to throw out. But that's not a solution, that's not a
problem solver kind of tell you how to get something done.)
The situation was a little different when the discussion turned
to SB 1070, the state's tough new law aimed at illegal immigants.
Martin and Mills lined up with Brewer in support of the law,
though Martin insisted the governor could have done more, and
sooner. That left Jette as the lone dissenter, calling the
legislation unnecessary -- and getting into it with Mills.
(You act as if the state of Arizona is being terrorized by
(Buz, it's simply not the case. In fact, crime is on the way down
(Go to the border.)
(Buz, please. I think the bottom line with SB 1070 is who can be
more extreme with the bill.)
Jette said there are more important issues for the state to take
up, saying the majority of those who crossed the border illegally
are here only to work. That drew a sharp response from Brewer.
(The majority of them in my opinion, and I think in the opinion
of law enforcement, they're not coming here to work. They're
coming here and they're bringing drugs and they're doing drop
houses and they're extorting people and they're terrorizing the
families. That is truth, Matt, that is the truth. And we, in
Arizona, are not going to put up with it any longer.)
Brewer and Martin, as publicly funded candidates, had to
participate in Tuesday's debate. The other two chose to. But it
remains to be seen whether all four will agree to any more of
these sessions before the August primary. For Arizona Public
Radio this is Howard Fischer.