Play the video above to see these stories on AZ Illustrated Politics for Friday, April 4:

Host Jim Nintzel sat down with Ann-Eve Pedersen, president of the Arizona Education Network; Robert Medler, vice-president of government affairs for the Tucson Metro Chamber; and Joe Ferguson, Arizona Daily Star political reporter. Among the topics discussed:

TUCSON CITY BUDGET: Tucson City Manager Richard Miranda recently released a budget blueprint for the upcoming fiscal year, but City Council members are concerned about some of his proposed cuts to outside agencies, including the Tucson-Pima Arts Council and Access Tucson. Pederson said she hoped that the council would restore some funding for TPAC and Access Tucson, but added that Access Tucson should partner with school districts and Pima Community College while and should look into finding new office space since its downtown headquarters was likely to sold. Medler said the chamber was concerned about a proposed increase in business fees and the growing cost of mass transit, but was otherwise impressed with the budget proposal.

CONGRESSIONAL RACES HEAT UP: With the release of a new Republican budget in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee went on the attack against Republican Martha McSally, who is running against U.S. Rep. Ron Barber (D-CD2), as well as the three Republicans who are vying for the chance to challenge U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-CD). Ferguson said the Republican candidates who got back to him said they hadn’t even yet reviewed the budget, much less much was decided whether they supported it. Pedersen said that if the candidates didn’t support the budget they should say so, and criticized McSally from dodging Ferguson’s questions. This week also saw the release of new TV ads criticizing Barber and Kirkpatrick for supporting the Affordable Care Act. Ferguson said the group behind the ads, the LIBRE Initiative, was funded by the Koch brothers. Pedersen said LIBRE Initiative was an astroturf effort rather than a genuine grassroots operation.

AFFORDABLE CARE ACT: This week, the Obama administration announced that more than 7 million people have signed up for health insurance via the online exchanges created by Obamacare. Pedersen said this was a sign that the Affordable Care Act was working. Medler said that the business community remained split on support for the health care law. Ferguson predicted that Obamacare would remain a key element of this year’s congressional campaigns.

AZ Illustrated Politics is produced by Jim Nintzel. Contact him at