AZ budget brokers working behind closed doors - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

AZ budget brokers working behind closed doors

  • Fox 29 Daily HeadlinesMore>>

  • In new walkouts, students look to turn outrage to action

    In new walkouts, students look to turn outrage to action

    Friday, April 20 2018 12:26 AM EDT2018-04-20 04:26:49 GMT
    Saturday, April 21 2018 5:34 AM EDT2018-04-21 09:34:49 GMT
    (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File). FILE - In this March 14, 2018 file photo, young demonstrators hold a rally in front of the White House in Washington. Another wave of school walkouts is expected as students honor victims of gun violence and push for gu...(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File). FILE - In this March 14, 2018 file photo, young demonstrators hold a rally in front of the White House in Washington. Another wave of school walkouts is expected as students honor victims of gun violence and push for gu...

    Another wave of school walkouts is expected as students honor victims of gun violence and push for gun control.

    More >>

    Another wave of school walkouts is expected as students honor victims of gun violence and push for gun control.

    More >>
  • Facebook adds privacy settings to comply with European rules

    Facebook adds privacy settings to comply with European rules

    Wednesday, April 18 2018 5:33 AM EDT2018-04-18 09:33:47 GMT
    Saturday, April 21 2018 2:16 AM EDT2018-04-21 06:16:00 GMT
    (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File). FILE - In this May 16, 2012, file photo, the Facebook logo is displayed on an iPad in Philadelphia. A propaganda expert who has studied Cambridge Analytica says the company helped Donald Trump’s presidential campaign use f...(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File). FILE - In this May 16, 2012, file photo, the Facebook logo is displayed on an iPad in Philadelphia. A propaganda expert who has studied Cambridge Analytica says the company helped Donald Trump’s presidential campaign use f...
    Facebook is introducing more privacy safeguards to users in Europe to comply with new rules meant to make it easier for consumers to give and withdraw consent for the use of their data.More >>
    Facebook is introducing more privacy safeguards to users in Europe to comply with new rules meant to make it easier for consumers to give and withdraw consent for the use of their data.More >>
  • UPDATE: Everything you need to know about Arizona's teacher walkout

    UPDATE: Everything you need to know about Arizona's teacher walkout

    Friday, April 20 2018 10:12 PM EDT2018-04-21 02:12:11 GMT
    Arizona teachers could be staging a strike, which may leave tens of thousands of parents scrambling. (Source: Raycom Media)Arizona teachers could be staging a strike, which may leave tens of thousands of parents scrambling. (Source: Raycom Media)

    One thing is certain, tens of thousands of parents will be forced to scramble to find out what to do if enough teachers walk out.

    More >>

    One thing is certain, tens of thousands of parents will be forced to scramble to find out what to do if enough teachers walk out.

    More >>
PHOENIX (CBS5) -

A growing number of state lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle are complaining that they've been left out of the budget process. It's the result, they say, of new rules and new procedures implemented by the majority leaders and the governor's office.

"The discussion is not even available because it doesn't occur," said Rep. Lela Alston, a Democrat, whose district includes the historic districts near downtown Phoenix.

Alston served in the Legislature from 1977 to 1995. She returned two years ago but said the rules and responsibilities had changed, even for members such as herself who serve on the Appropriations Committee, which traditionally oversees the budget.

"When I came back this time, I said, 'OK, I'm on appropriations again. Where's my budget book?' And people didn't know what a budget book was," Alston said.

Legislators and those familiar with the workings of the Legislature said the changes began about 10 years ago.

In the past, state agency heads, experts and interested citizens would testify in front of subcommittees and the Appropriations Committees in both the state House and the Senate. The members of those committees would vote on budget recommendations. The recommendations would head to the entire House and Senate, where all members would vote. A final budget would head to the governor's office.

Alston remembers going on field trips with other lawmakers to see firsthand how their budget decisions would affect agencies and individuals.

Lawmakers tell CBS 5 Investigates that no longer happens.

"Right now, the process is that the agencies go to the governor and say, 'This is what we need.' And never come to the state Legislature," said Republican Sen. Chester Crandell, whose district covers parts of northeastern Arizona.

The governor's office negotiates with roughly eight members of the House and Senate leadership behind closed doors. When they reach an agreement, they introduce the budget to the members, who often are required to vote on the package within 24 hours.

Crandell said he believes the Legislature has ceded too much authority to the governor. He said having agency heads make detailed budget pitches to legislative committees would open the process and provide the ability for fiscal conservatives like himself to directly oversee the spending.

"I think what it does is get the people more involved in looking at agencies and determining how they're spending their money," Crandell said.

CBS 5 Investigates sent interview requests to the House and Senate majority leaders and their public information officers, requesting interviews about the budget process. Not one legislator responded.

We caught up with House Speaker Andy Tobin in the House parking lot.

Tobin defended his way of negotiating the budget and said he regularly keeps his members informed about the process and progress.

"I think really what you're talking about is what happens when we're sitting down quietly away from the public," Tobin said.

Tobin refused a request by CBS 5 Investigates to sit in on one of the closed door meetings.

"I'd love to have you come into my office and sit with me and chat, but no, the press isn't in those meetings," Tobin said.

Critics argue that legislating behind closed doors creates mistrust and allows faulty legislation to pass.

Last year, the final budget included a provision that swept $50 million in mortgage settlement funds into the state general fund. The money was supposed to be used for foreclosure prevention and to crack down on mortgage fraud. Members and housing advocates said they were unaware of that provision until the last minute.

That budget was voted on the same day it was released.

Two years ago, the governor and House and Senate leaders agreed on budget cuts that removed funding for low-income transplants. Medical experts said they were not consulted about the cuts and argued that their testimony may have been able to prevent them altogether. Two people died before the funding was restored.

"It is an extreme example, but it's a real example," Alston said. "You know, we really do make life-and-death decisions for individuals."

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly

1100 Banyan Blvd.
West Palm Beach, FL 33401

FCC Public File
EEO Report
Closed Captioning

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 Raycom Media. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.