Jun 22, 2022 - Politics

Arizona budget makes progress, but major hurdles remain

Illustration of the Arizona State Capitol with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

A state House committee approved a proposed $15.6 billion state budget Tuesday with just 10 days left to avert a government shutdown.

  • But it got held up in the Senate amid Republican infighting over other legislation.

The intrigue: Senate Appropriations Chairman David Gowan scuttled plans to hear the proposal in his committee, indicating that he was putting the budget bills on hold because the House Rules Committee hadn't yet allowed unrelated legislation to reach the floor, the Arizona Mirror reported.

The big picture: It's uncertain whether the proposal has enough support to reach Gov. Doug Ducey's desk, regardless of whether it gets out of both committees.

  • In the House Appropriations Committee there was both bipartisan support and opposition, with one Republican going against the budget and one Democrat supporting it.

Some Republicans are opposed on the grounds that it spends too much.

  • GOP Rep. Jake Hoffman said in the appropriations committee, "The reality is that this budget does not reflect the priorities of the majority… It certainly does not reflect the platform the majority proposes to stand for," the Arizona Capitol Times reported.
  • Republican Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita voiced her opposition on Twitter on Monday, writing that it isn't fiscally responsible and arguing, "You cannot spend your way out of a looming recession."

On the Democratic side, Rep. César Chávez backed the plan in committee, saying, "We don't have anything to work with, and in the matter of working on something that will benefit the state of Arizona and the people of Arizona, as my responsibility as a lawmaker, I vote aye," according to the Capitol Times.

  • Yes, but: House Democratic leader Reginald Bolding called the budget plan "deeply flawed" and said it needs to use more of the state's $5 billion surplus on education, preventing gun violence and solving Arizona's housing crisis.

If Ducey and Republican legislative leaders can't cobble together majorities for the proposed package, the fallback plan is the "skinny budget" that mostly just continues spending from the current fiscal year.

  • However, the House Appropriations Committee rejected the skinny budget.
  • Senate President Karen Fann told the Capitol Times that lawmakers will have to approve the skinny budget by Friday if they can't pass the new plan.
  • A budget must be in place by the time the next fiscal year begins on July 1 in order to avert a government shutdown.

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