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AZ Week Notebook


National Public Radio reported Thursday morning on a new study of college graduates and the job market. It's not a pretty picture.

Arizona Week will explore the topic Friday with a series of interviews with college career placement specialists, an economist and graduating seniors. We'll also speak with a University of Arizona official about the debt students are taking with them when they graduate.

On the program:

-- State economic analyst Aruna Murthy, discussing the employment market for young people.

-- Elaine Stover, career services director at Arizona State University, discussing the opportunities for ASU's Class of 2012.

-- Eileen McGarry, career services director at the University of Arizona, discussing the same for UA's graduates.

-- Melissa Vito, UA vice president for student affairs, discussing student debt carried forth after graduation.

-- UA Class of 2012 graduates Chelsy McHone and Timothy James Venne, discussing their strategies for employment after graduation.

Friday, 8:30 p.m. MST on PBS-HD6, or streamed at


The scenario has been the same for college graduates for several years -- get out of school and scramble for employment in the face of the recession and dwindling opportunities.

The unemployment rate nationally among 18 to 25 year olds for April was reported at 16 percent.

Thus, adding thousands of college graduates to that pool has consequences for them, for the economy and, perhaps, for their creditors.

Grads are leaving school with higher debt than ever.

On Friday's Arizona Week, we will explore the job prospects for the Class of 2012, what the hot fields are, how much they pay and what the rest of the new college graduates will do.

We will talk with two University of Arizona seniors who have carved out less-than-traditional paths. We will check in with Eileen McGarry, head of Career Services for the UA. And we will speak with an economist about the big picture in Arizona and nationally.


What would you ask Gov. Jan Brewer if you could interview her?

Here's your chance. Post your question in the comment box below, and we will strive to ask it of her for Fridfay's Arizona Week broadcast.

We are working to arrange an interview with Brewer for the program.

Want to ask about the budget -- welfare or education funding? Want to ask about other bills she has signed -- ban on all state funding for Planned Parenthood, for example? Want to ask why she vetoed Tucson's Rio Nuevo bill?

The plan, assuming we get an interview, is to ask your questions for one complete segment of the program, 6 to 7 minutes.

Send in the questions and then watch for her responses on Friday's Arizona Week, 8:30 p.m. MST on PBS-HD6, or streamed at

Arizona Legislature Gov Jan Brewer,


Much of the time when the Arizona Legislature is in session, the members make themselves available for news media interviews in a wide range of ways.

Some will take a few minutes between committee meetings and votes on the floor. Some won't talk before the end of the day's or even the week's work.

Some are hardly available at all, camera shy or otherwise not in tune to the sometimes breathless needs of we in the media.

But on what turned out to be the final day of the 2012 regular session on Thursday, there was a lot of interest in the lights and cameras the AZPM crew set up in the House majority leader's conference room.

We had scheduled interviews with three legislators, and we got those. But betwixt and between, we got one more from an assertive Democratic representative who said he had something to say on the topic -- state educational funding.

Others wanted to know what we were up to, asking me or the video crew who we represented and whom we were speaking with.

Our crew having made several trips to the Capitol during the session this spring and having worked sometimes gruelingly to get good interviews, this was a mixed blessing.

We were happy to have smiling legislators ready to give us their thoughts. But we have just a half hour a week, after all, so the "extras" who came by offering their opinions were a bit perplexing to deal with.

Arizona Legislature,


Gov. Jan Brewer often refers to herself as "the education governor," pointing out that her original involvement in politics lo many years ago was on a school board.

She has pushed educational issues, including in 2010 the 1-cent education sales tax designed to build a dedicated funding source for education at all levels, K-12, community colleges and universities.

Despite it, she couldn't stave off a Legislature intent on slashing education spending last year, sitting by almost helplessly as $400 million was severed from public education at all levels. Her redoubt was that she had "protected education to the best of my ability," including "risking my career for the 1-cent sales tax.

So along comes 2012 and for the first time in her three-year tenure as governor, the prospect of a state budget surplus. Brewer set about to assign a good bit of the surplus to restore a big chunk of he education cuts. Specifically, she sought just shy of $300 million to be added to education spending.

The Legislature balked at that and at any added spending, saying the state needed to build up its rainy day fund to stave off future fiscal catastrophe.

The compromise gives education $120 million or so in funding added to last year's paltry appropriations.

One-third of it -- $40 million, which is $10 million less than Brewer wanted -- will go to establish reading programs so that children in kindergarten through third grade can get extra help if needed to earn to read. That's a necessity given that the state next year implements a requirement that children must learn to read by third grade or not get promoted.

The real short shrift comes in school building renewal. Brewer sought $100 million spread over three years to make repairs on school facilities that are in some cases literally coming apart at the seams. She's getting $12 million for the next year and no promise of anything in subsequent years.

On Friday's Arizona Week, we will look at the whys and hows of education funding by talking to legislators, and we will find out what the effects of the continued low level of funding are by talking to educators and public education advocates.


The Legislature is past its targeted 100-day goal for adjourning the 2012 regular session, and there's no end in sight.

Or so it seems.

The way budget negotiations have gone in past years, the process -- and the session -- could linger until July, as one legislative leader said he feared, or it could be over in an instant.

More like two or three instances. Once an agreement between Gov. Jan Brewer and Republican legislative leaders is struck, expect everyone to move quickly for passage and the governor to sign.

On Friday's Arizona Week, we will get an update on the budget process -- and other work in which the Legislature is engaged -- from veteran legislative reporters Mary Jo Pitzl of the Arizona Republic and Luige del Puerto of the Arizona Capitol Times.

The governor's office and legislators are at odds over projects for how much state revenues will be in the next two years, with the governor saying more, so spend more, and legislators saying less, so save more.

About AZ Week Notebook

News and commentary from Arizona Week producer/host Michael Chihak and interns Melanie Huonker and Lucy Valencia.