Ascent of a Woman

Meet Jane Hull. She's probably your next governor.

Hull's record in office echoes her sentiment. Although she has almost always voted against the pro-choice position, she was instrumental during her time as speaker of the House in keeping abortion-related measures from reaching the floor, unless she was assured they had the 31 votes necessary for quick passage. She maintained that other issues--such as the budget--should take precedence.

Contrary to her shakily pro-choice stance today, in January 1990 she wrote to Planned Parenthood president Gary Hammond and said just the opposite:

". . . Although I have many friends who are active in Planned Parenthood, I have never indicated in my record or in any questionnaires that I am anything but pro-life."

Arizona Right to Life acknowledges that view. Dr. Carolyn Gerster, president of the group's board of directors, notes that Hull had a 100 percent pro-life voting record prior to becoming speaker of the House.

No abortion bills were heard while Hull was speaker.
And what about Hull's statement to New Times--albeit shaky--that she's now pro-choice?

"We would not support her if she's changed, no," Gerster says. "We'd have to hear it from her, though, of course."

Hull is more forthcoming when it comes to taxes. She has raised them before, and if necessary, would raise them again. No, she says, if governor she would not sign a pledge not to raise taxes.

Rick Collins defends his former--and possibly future--boss's votes to increase taxes. Revenue, he points out, wasn't coming into the state at the turn of the last decade like it is now. Arizona's indigent health-care system, AHCCCS, was starting up. The Department of Corrections needed cash.

"Those were tough decisions for a conservative," Collins says. "To have to look at what was needed versus what was politically correct."

Hull says she supports Governor Symington's tax policies, but only to a point. It is rumored that Symington will push a 1998 ballot initiative amending Arizona's Constitution to abolish the state income tax--either as a plank in his campaign platform, or as his swan song.

Hull does not endorse that idea.
"I basically support and have applauded the fact that he [Symington] has been able to cut tax rates," she says. "As far as abolishing the income tax, I believe you have a three-legged stool, and it's better to keep taxes low in property, sales and income . . . than it is to abolish one."

She holds that income and property taxes are more stable than sales tax. If the state were to undergo a recession, Hull says, sales-tax revenue would dip and that would be problematic without an income tax.

Hull also differs from Symington on the subject of school finance. Tim Hogan, director of the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest, says "we'd have a shot" at equalizing public school funding and satisfying a 1995 state Supreme Court ruling with Hull--or, for that matter, anyone but Symington.

"Hull has gone on record saying she doesn't think what they [the Legislature and governor] did is good enough, doesn't satisfy the court decision," Hogan says. "So that's a step up for us."

Hull affirmed that position to New Times.
Like most good Republicans, for years Hull has supported the notion of tort reform. She repeatedly voted for and spoke about such measures, which would limit the liability--most significantly, of insurance companies and doctors--in malpractice and other wrongful-action lawsuits.

Trouble is, Hull's husband is an obstetrician, part of the class that stands to benefit greatly from such legislation. Hull is acutely aware of this perceived conflict--she herself points it out first in conversation--but dismisses it quickly.

According to state law, a legislator is only held accountable for a conflict of interest if the affected class is 10 or fewer. Obviously, that's not the case here. And a search of Maricopa County Superior Court records reveals Hull's husband has not been sued since the mid-Seventies.

Legally, Jane Hull is clean. But ethically, her leadership on tort-reform legislation may raise some issues.

In any event, Hull observes, the point is now moot. Terry Hull recently retired.

In all likelihood, Jane Hull will become governor without publicly having to take a firm stand on many important issues, says Cindy Resnick, a Tucson Democrat who retired from the state Legislature in 1990 to launch an unsuccessful campaign for U.S. Senate. She maintains that it takes a statewide race to reveal a politician's true colors.

"Although the secretary of state race is a statewide race, I don't think it enjoys the same degree of attention," Resnick says, "and I think that the quality of the officeholder is really shaped by a campaign."

In January 1982, Jane Hull said something so bold, so ruthless, so downright cruel, it would likely make even Joe Arpaio blush.

During a House Appropriations Committee hearing, Hull suggested that "maybe the swamp coolers [at the newly built Perryville prison] will break down. That might get rid of some of our prison population."

The quote was picked up by national wire services, along with Hull's later clarification: "Suffocate them to death. I really believe if we made it harder on them, they wouldn't be there."

Rick Collins cringed then, he says, but now admits the comment has "probably got her more political votes than anything else she's said."

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