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Tobin criticizes media, Dems in Chamber speech

House Speaker Andy Tobin (Photo by Josh Coddington/Arizona Capitol Times)

The 2011 session may be over, but some Republicans are still holding a grudge over the criticism to which they say they were subjected.

House Speaker Andy Tobin chastised the media and Democrats in the Legislature, arguing that Republicans made the tough decisions to cut the budget and pass the Arizona Competitiveness Package amid “abuse” from the press and the minority party.

“These were the people that put Arizona back together,” Tobin said of his caucus members. “They did it alone. The Republican majority did it alone.”

His ire was on display at today’s luncheon held by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, where he thanked members of the business community for “giving us the backbone” to pass controversial legislation: the pension reform bill, the economic incentives package and the budget.

Tobin was the last lawmaker to speak at the luncheon, following Gov. Jan Brewer, Senate President-elect Steve Pierce, Senate Minority Leader David Schapira and House Minority Leader Chad Campbell.

The other legislators seemed mostly to be on the same page: Prepare for the potential funding cliff in fiscal 2014, consider paying off some of the state’s debt, and continue to focus on policies to stimulate the economy.

“I am focused on the goal of a structurally balanced budget by the end of my term,” Brewer said during her remarks. “With the budget adopted last year, we have a new budget baseline. And there will be no restorations.”

Schapira took a contrary position, calling for restoring funding to K-12 education. He also took some shots at the Republicans, suggesting that the Legislature should avoid some of the sideshows that marked the 2011 session. Specifically, he referred to the then-ongoing ethics hearing over former Sen. Scott Bundgaard.

But Schapira, like Campbell, ultimately called to “put partisan bickering aside” and work on “common sense” policy to promote job creation.

Tobin, however, took umbrage to Schapira’s comments.

“I take exception to Senator Schapira extending the olive branch of bipartisanship after taking a shot at the Legislature for making cuts,” he said.

After the luncheon was over, Campbell said that Tobin’s comments were “expected” but hoped that the partisan tone “wasn’t a precursor to this session.”

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