Scuttlebutt at the capitol has it that Senate President Biggs and Brewer may have a deal anyway, with Biggs possibly undoing some of the changes made by the House last week. What the bills will actually say by the time they are delivered to Brewer is still anyone's guess, however.
As the Republic story on the House budget bills indicates, there were some shady dealings going on regarding a $3 billion behavioral health services contract.
The maneuver by Rep. David Stevens, R-Sierra Vista, on behalf of Magellan Health Services, got cellphones buzzing, sent rules attorneys scurrying to the floor of the House of Representatives and held up final work on the House budget package late Thursday night.
In the end, the House reversed its earlier decision and rejected Stevens' ploy to force a re-bid of the contract, which serves 75,000 children and adults with mental-health and substance-abuse problems in Maricopa County.
But the issue is not dead: Stevens and Magellan supporters said they will push their case in the Senate, where the budget debate now turns.Beside the fact that the legislature in this, and other cases this session, is trying to take over executive branch functions by writing contract specifics into bills, Stevens does NOT represent ANY portion of Maricopa County. So why is HE involved? Can the answer to that be anything other than LOBBYISTS. Can there be any doubt that John Kaites, a former member of the legislature, now a lobbyist for Magellan is pulling Stevens' strings?
Let's see how much of a watchdog the Republic has the balls (or backbone) to be now. It's website says they are going to do even more investigative journalism. Do they really have what it takes to tackle this situation and investigate it deeply enough to root out the shadiness?
Now, about that $900,000 wet kiss Kavanagh is giving to the private prisons. Craig Harris, Arizona Republic senior reporter, quotes House Minority Leader Chad Campbell,
House Minority Leader Chad Campbell of Phoenix was incensed by the additional money for GEO.
He voiced disappointment on the House floor late Thursday during the budget debate and again Friday, telling The Arizona Republic that the request "came out of nowhere."
Some lawmakers, he said, learned of the addition to the House budget hours before members began voting on it.
Campbell said Kavanagh is responsible for pushing the proposal through the House with support from all but one Republican: Rep. Ethan Orr of Tucson.
"This is somebody getting a handout," Campbell said. "It's unnecessary. This came out of nowhere — I mean that. No one said a word about it. It wasn't in the Senate budget, it didn't come as a request from DOC. There's something really shady here."But did it come out of nowhere? I don't think so.
On the Saturday prior to the start of the legislative session (January 11), I posted about our good friend John Kavanagh and his love affair with the private prison industrial complex. That post referenced a column by EJ Montini, who referenced a story by Craig Harris on the private prisons. My post also referenced a rebuttal op-ed by Kavanagh that the Republic published.
Campbell has had to deal with more than 750 House bills and resolutions, not to mention the number of Senate bills that passed and then had to be considered by the House. Might Harris, whose beat apparently includes covering prison issues, have remembered and referenced the three items published by the Republic in January on this subject? Gosh, my beat doesn't even cover private prisons and I remembered it.
Now, we can expect the legislature to be finished with the budget possibly in just a day or two. What happened last year after they finished the budget? HB2305, for one thing.
We KNOW that there are a number of controversial bills that either or both chambers have been sitting on for a some time. I would be surprised if we do NOT see them trying to sneak several of those measures through, just like Kavanagh tried to do (and may yet have succeeded) in giving some sugar ($900,000 worth) to the private prisons.
EVERY single controversial issue could be on the table, INCLUDING individual portions of what was included in HB2305, including Montenegro's (HB2281) companion bill to SB1062 (pun intended), to expansion of the taxpayer giveaway to private schools, to expansion of Yarbrough's nest egg (STO bill, HB2291) and many more.
So, BE ON THE LOOKOUT. You can count on the Republican legislature vigorously trying to sneak through some bad bills.