OTR Interviews

Ariz. Gov. Brewer: Gov. Walker Doing the Right Thing in Wisconsin Union Dispute

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," February 28, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Did you hear about the governors here in Washington? It is the National Governors Association semiannual meeting in Washington. As usual, they get wined and dined at the White House, but it's also time for serious talk, including about our nation's health care law.

Just a short time ago Arizona Governor Jan Brewer went "On the Record."


VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, nice to see you. How long have you been here?

GOV. JAN BREWER, R-ARIZ.: Since Friday.

VAN SUSTEREN: The president said he will let states opt-out a few years earlier in health care if you can do deficit neutral health care and provide much coverage as his national law. What do you think about that?

BREWER: I think it is nice that he has moved that much in that direction. I don't know if it is going to give us much relief. The word today and yesterday has been flexibility. He's giving us that flexibility on that side of the equation.

But of course we are concerned about flexibility on the Medicaid side, which he hasn't offered anything up. We are looking forward to making proposals at least from Arizona this next week and hopeful that he will and Secretary Sebelius will give us some flexibility so we can balance our budget and deliver the services that we can afford. It is all about money.

VAN SUSTEREN: Explain this, if you reduce your Medicare rolls or Medicaid rolls, those people will, if they need emergency care, they are going someplace and somebody is going to pay, right?

BREWER: Right.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is much of this about who is going to pay, whether it is the state or some private institution or public hospital or some hospital when the person shows up?

BREWER: If we reduce those people off our Medicaid rolls if they are going to have problems, they are going to end up at our hospitals. They are going to be underwater also. We have a legislature currently in Arizona that has passed now out of the appropriations committee, to separate ourselves from the Medicaid program totally. If that would happen, that would mean we would lose about $3 billion in federal dollars.

VAN SUSTEREN: Those people get dumped into the private sector when they show up at the hospital?

BREWER: Absolutely. And so they would still have the people, still have the problems, and no federal dollars. So what we're trying to attempt to do and trying to get flexibility. I spoke with Secretary Sebelius about that today, if we can get some flexibility to have some different kind of options so we can mitigate the damage.

For instance, we could request not to have to pay for taxi rides for the population to make their appointments, maybe possibly ask for co-pays, that we have to have flexibility. Medicaid in the state of Arizona is one-third of my budget because we have such a generous program. And our program is different than most other states, because it is access, it's a capitated program.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you think the president understands your particular state's problems?

BREWER: I hope he does. I think Secretary Sebelius understands it because she has been a governor. If we don't have the money, we don't have the money. What are we going to do?

VAN SUSTEREN: What are you going do?

BREWER: I'm the Republican who never voted for a tax increase in her history in 30 years of public service who asked the public to vote for a temporary one cent sales tax to protect education. The only place I can make cuts is going into education.

Education is what our job and our economy. And I am in a terrible situation and our legislature is trying to deal with that. I initiated in my budget to removing 280,000 people off Medicaid rolls which are toddlers and adults, a situation that is going to be difficult. I hope I get the flexibility so we can balance the budget and mitigate it. We need the federal government to help. They need to be our true partner.

VAN SUSTEREN: All the governors here this weekend to meet with the president. How much discussion was about Governor Scott Walker and what is going on in Wisconsin?

BREWER: Between the president and us there wasn't much discussion at all about it. There was discussion about that and it was divided, those that support the unions and those that don't. I personally feel he's doing the right thing. The only way we can balance our budget is negotiate with and talk to these employees to save those jobs. He doesn't have that ability, what is he going to do?

VAN SUSTEREN: He said the unions have given up on pension and health care collective bargaining is where they are divided. What is your thought on collective bargaining?

BREWER: I don't support collective bargaining. Arizona is a right to work state. We don't have collective bargaining. When I became governor the previous governor had just instituted by executive order meet and confer. When I became governor, I did away with meet and confer also.

I believe you have to have a personal relationship with your employees and work together. It is a simple as that. You have to be able particularly during these times. I know times change. These particular times we have to be able to go in and adjust. We have to be able to adjust. We can't sit around negotiating and waiting and bargaining.

VAN SUSTEREN: How is President Obama doing vis-a-vis Arizona as president?

BREWER: In the last month he's saying some things that are a little better, but certainly hasn't stepped up and addressed some of the issues that we are concerned about, of course that's security of our border. They've not stepped up.

VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, thanks. Enjoy the rest of your time here.

BREWER: Thank you.