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CNN Inside Politics Interview

Location: Unknown



March 14, 2003 Friday

Transcript # 031400CN.V15

SECTION: News; Domestic

HEADLINE: President Bush Prepares for Emergency Summit on Iraq

GUESTS: Richard Holbrooke, Pat Roberts, Janet Napolitano

BYLINE: Judy Woodruff, Dana Bash, Candy Crowley, Jonathan Karl, William Schneider, Jeff Greenfield

WOODRUFF: State governments nationwide face some of the worst budget deficits in decades. It's a tough challenge, especially for new governors, such as Arizona Democrat Janet Napolitano, a woman some Democrats have described as a rising star within their party.

Yesterday, I spoke with the governor. And I began by asking her if she can still be a success if she's not able to do anything about her state's large budget deficits.


GOV. JANET NAPOLITANO (D), ARIZONA: I think being a governor is being a leader. And I think one of the ways you demonstrate leadership is piloting a state through a fiscal crisis.

And so we've just now, with our legislature, reached an agreement for '03. I will call them into special session on Monday to approve that agreement. And then we're going to roll up our sleeves and get back to work on '04, where, as you correctly say, we have to find $1 billion someplace.

WOODRUFF: When President Bush met with governors about a month or so ago, the message from him was very clear. The states are not going to get any more money than what he's already promised them that they are going to get.

But when it comes to matters like homeland security and Medicaid and other things, is Arizona and are other states going to be able to survive without more federal help?

NAPOLITANO: Well, I think there was a basic kind of false dichotomy, as it were, when we met with the president.

There was this notion that we were asking for a bailout, the states were asking for a bailout. And, really, my view is, the federal government has imposed a number of mandates on the states and that those mandates ought to come with federal appropriations. Our plea to our congressional delegations and to the president is, the federal government ought to pay its fair share, nothing more, nothing less.

WOODRUFF: So, is the federal government paying its fair share to Arizona right now?

NAPOLITANO: No, not at all. The fastest rising part of our education budget, for example, is special ed. When that federal bill was passed, that federal mandate -- and I appreciate the mandate. And I think the purpose and the philosophy underlying the bill is a good thing.

But the federal government made a commitment to cover 40 percent of the cost. And, right now, it's covering between 14 percent and 17 percent. Those are the kinds of things that, in a tight fiscal year for all the states and for Arizona, really become noticeable.

WOODRUFF: Let me ask you a little bit about politics. Arizona has moved up its presidential primary date in 2004 to February the 3rd. Now, this is one week after New Hampshire. Is this a good idea, do you think?

NAPOLITANO: I think it's a great idea, because I did it.


NAPOLITANO: But we moved it up because Arizona is a vital, growing state. And, in my view, having an earlier primary would enable all of the candidates to campaign there, something they haven't always done in the past, give us a more national profile. And we want to have that.

WOODRUFF: Well, what about that? Because, right now, you have got Iowa, where Dick Gephardt supposedly is favored. You have got New Hampshire, where John Kerry is supposedly favored. Some people are saying a state like Arizona might be tailor-made for Joe Lieberman, for example, a more moderate Democrat. Do you see it that way?

NAPOLITANO: Well, I think Arizona is wide open. And I think we are really the first primary where there's not a favored son, so to speak, and also the first primary in a large Western state, with a large and growing Hispanic population. So there are a lot of things that can come out of an Arizona primary that could be bellwethers for who ultimately gets the nomination.

WOODRUFF: And, finally, Governor, as you -- of course, we all wait to see what happens with regard to military action against Iraq. How has the call-up of military reserves affected your state?

NAPOLITANO: Well, we've had a significant number of call-ups. And it affects particular sectors in the state. For example, a number of our corrections officers are in the reserves. So, the corrections officer corps is somewhat depleted at this point in time.

WOODRUFF: So you're not able to replace them one by one?

NAPOLITANO: Well, we -- no. And corrections officers are trained and so forth. You just can't go on the street and find somebody. But we will manage our way through this. And Arizona will play its role in the coming conflict.

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