Monday, June 29, 2009

A day-long civics lesson...

This is going to be a short post, because I need to decompress. And unlike the people who work at the lege tonight, I get to do just that.

In spite of the vast quantity of nothing effective that seemed to dominate today's activities, today was a learning experience.

During one of the lulls in the inaction today, I met and had the opportunity to speak with Tim Schmaltz, CEO of PAFCO. PAFCO, Protecting Arizona's Family Coalition, is a "non-partisan alliance of social services, health, community service agencies, advocacy groups, citizen advocacy, and faith-based associations."

He has a vast knowledge of the accomplishing things at the AZ lege, and in legislative/political bodies in general. He made the point that in practical politics, someone like a committee chair or the leadership of a body should never bring a bill forward unless they know exactly what the vote will be. He was stunned at the fact that Russell Pearce brought the budget bills forward without knowing that they would pass.

I wondered if in fact Pearce knew *exactly* how the vote was going to turn out before bringing the meeting to order.

Apparently, cynicism is contagious, because that made him wonder too.

I've criticized Russell Pearce many times in the past, and have made it clear that I don't think he is particularly intelligent. However, he is a skilled tactician when it comes to practical politics. He knows how and when to throw an elbow, and I believe that's exactly what he did today.

There are still more chapters to come to pass in this story.

The Governor's office has extended some backchannel feelers to some Democratic senators, but they aren't actually willing to make concessions, or even negotiate with the Democrats. If they don't get at least 6 Dems on board, nothing that resembles this budget is going to pass the Senate. There just aren't enough Republicans on board.

I reminded the person who told me of that of the *deal* a couple of years ago that Pete Rios and another Democratic representative made with then-speaker Jim Weiers. It was the sort of deal where they sold their souls to the devil (Weiers) but where the devil didn't pay the freight (the concessions they got came at the cost of programs that Weiers wanted to cut anyway.)

In other words, any deals made with the Governor had better be *good* deals, not just creating a different sort of bad.

Tomorrow, I have an appointment at the dentist. I may go down to the lege to see how things are going, but maybe not. Depends on developments and how I feel.

Either way, I recommend viewing the proceedings on AZ Capitol Television or on the lege's website. This stuff will affect our home for years, if not generations.


Thane Eichenauer said...

Again, great coverage.

But actions that will affect generations? Aren't you going a bit General Hospital on us?

Especially since we have been told that there really won't be a government shutdown.

cpmaz said...

Thane, thanks for the compliment.

I don't think that I was being overdramatic.

Even if a shutdown is avoided, some of the facets of the budget that look to be going through no matter what (i.e. - deepening the state's structural deficit with the imposition of the flat tax, sale of state assets and paying private companies for the ability to continue using them, etc.), are going to cause serious damage to the state.

I know you and I disagree on the proper role of government, and probably disagree on this, but it's what I, and a lot of other, more knowledgeable, observers believe.

Jenifer said...

We need a big "reset" button at this point. Our state has spent too much time on this crazy ideological roller coaster. We have short-sighted leaders who behave as if they've a vendetta against anyone who done did them wrong. They need counseling. And maybe a hug (yeah, I'm looking at you Sen. Pearce). And a very long, LONG vacation.

Thanks for the live blog work yesterday. Missing your presence there today.

Thane Eichenauer said...

"The Governor has signed Senate Bill 1188, the 2009-10 General Appropriations Act. There is no shut down of State Government. All state employees should continue to report to work as scheduled. July 1, 2009 1:00 PM" -

This looks like about as far from a government shutdown short of the general amping up of concern.

I (don't) feel so relieved.