The Skinny

A Big Deal

Gov. Ducey has a tentative agreement with education leaders on school funding

Details remained somewhat sketchy as we were going to press on Tuesday, but it appears that Gov. Doug Ducey and education advocates have come up with a deal to settle the ongoing suit over education funding and adjust Ducey's proposal to dig more deeply into the state land trust fund.

And before you even read this in our print edition, there's a chance the Legislature could be in special session to approve the settlement.

The schools are settling for less than they are owed from the Legislature's refusal to properly increase funding for inflation in recent years, but they also don't have to wait for the case to drag through the appeals process—or risk that appellate judges conclude they aren't owed that much. They're also agreeing to provisions that would allow the state to sidestep inflation increases in the future, if the economy weakens.

Ducey still needs to persuade Republican lawmakers to shell out more than they'd like for schools so he can get his proposal to get more money out of the state land trust on the ballot with the support of the education community.

Democrats—in a fairly typical outcome in state politics—have been reduced to onlookers in the entire process, although if conservative GOP lawmakers balk at the deal, their votes may still be needed to get the package across the finish line. If that happens, they'll face the choice of going along with legislation or oppose the education leaders who made a deal with Ducey.

Another Big Deal

Obama vetoes defense spending bill before finding common ground with Congress on a major budget agreement

President Barack Obama last week rejected the National Defense Authorization Act, issuing the fifth veto of his presidency.

Obama said he was vetoing the legislation for three main reasons:

• It keeps in place sequester caps on non-defense spending but gets around those caps for military operations by using gimmicks that puts some of those expenses into a special contingency fund.

• It blocks various reforms that the Pentagon has tried to use to modernize the military.

• It prevents the Obama administration from closing the Guantanamo detention center

Local reaction was mostly critical. Sen. John McCain, in a joint statement with Sen. Mac Thornberry, said it was "not only unprecedented, but it is reckless, cynical, and downright dangerous. Never before has an American president used the bill that provides pay and support to our troops and their families as political leverage for his domestic agenda."

Democratic Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick, who wants to challenge McCain next year, called Obama's veto "disappointing" and said she would support overriding the veto.

"Our military should never be caught in the middle of budget disputes between the president and Congress," Kirkpatrick said in a written statement. "While I understand the concerns about this bill and its failure to fix the harmful spending cuts known as sequestration, ultimately the NDAA includes provisions that are important to southern Arizona and our national security."

And Republican Congresswoman Martha McSally called the veto "an act of stubborn political grandstanding."

"After fighting so hard to make sure Iran's terrorist militia would be well-armed and funded, President Obama is now turning his back on our own American men and women in uniform," McSally said in a press release.

One of the key provisions of the bill for Southern Arizonans was a requirement that the Pentagon continue to support the A-10 fleet, along with the EC-130H Compass Call, which are both aircraft that have been targeted for retirement by military leaders in response to limits established by the sequester.

GOP congressional leaders plan to try to override the veto, but the political dynamics have changed a bit now that the White House and congressional leaders announced Monday that they were on the verge of a budget deal that allows temporary relief from sequester caps.

Details remain sketchy on the budget deal as of press time, but it would appear to lift the debt ceiling high enough to avoid another showdown before the 2016 election.

Election Day Is Here!

Please do try to vote if it wouldn't be too much trouble

One of the sleepiest election seasons in recent history is drawing to a close, with voters going to the polls next Tuesday, Nov. 3, to decide the fate of the county's $815 million bond election, three Tucson City Council races, an Oro Valley recall and some school district overrides.

If you're interested in watching the results come in with your political team, here's what we know about the Election Night parties: The Pima County Democratic Party will be at the Doubletree Hotel, 445 S. Alvernon Way; the Pima County Republican Party will be at Sushi Garden, 3048 E. Broadway; and the county bond supporters will be at the Mercado San Agustin, 100 South Avenida del Convento.

Exposé Encore

Here's another chance to see documentary on the Rosemont Mine's new owners

Investigative reporter John Dougherty will return to the Loft Cinema this Sunday, Nov. 1, for an encore screening of Flin Flon Flim Flam, a recently completed documentary about HudBay Minerals, the new owners of the proposed Rosemont Mine project.

Dougherty examines HudBay's history in Canada, Guatemala and Peru, as well as the impact the mine would have on the Santa Rita Mountains southeast of Tucson.

The film shows at 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 1, at the Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway.

Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel airs Sunday morning at 8 a.m. on the CW Tucson, Channel 8 on Cox and Comcast and Channel 58 on DirecTV, Dish and broadcast. This week features an encore screening of the Ward 4 City Council debate between Democratic incumbent Shirley Scott and Republican challenger Margaret Burkholder. The show also airs at 5 p.m. Sunday on KXCI, 91.3 FM.

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