GOP budget clears first legislative hurdle

February 21, 2012

Legislative committees in the Arizona House and Senate today approved a budget plan crafted by GOP leaders. But the plan appears to be at odds with the proposal put forward last month by Governor Jan Brewer. From Phoenix, KJZZ’s Mark Brodie reports.

Arizona Capitol The Arizona state capitol building. (Photo by Mark Brodie - KJZZ)

MARK BRODIE: There are a number of differences between the two plans. For starters, the governor’s revenue projections are higher than the legislature’s. There are also policy disagreements. The governor wants to increase funding for school construction, textbooks and other school equipment and tourism, among other things. The legislature’s plan does none of those. It does set aside $250 million into the rainy day fund, and $200 million to pay off debt. Republican Representative Justin Olson of Mesa says the proposal would put the state in good fiscal shape.

JUSTIN OLSON: I think that what we have here is a model of a budget that will balance our budget, not only in this fiscal year, but will also prepare for the contingencies that we know are coming in the near future.

BRODIE: Olson says those contingencies include the end of the temporary one cent sales tax increase next year, and potentially higher health care costs when the federal health care overhaul is fully implemented in a few years. But State Senator David Lujan, a Phoenix Democrat, says the plan would move Arizona in the wrong direction.

DAVID LUJAN: We have a wonderful state, full of opportunities, but I sometimes think that as a legislature, we fail to provide the budget that will help us grow as a state, and I certainly don’t think that this budget is going to help us grow.

BRODIE: Lujan and other Democrats also complained about voting on a budget less than 24 hours after seeing it for the first time. In a statement, Senate Republican leaders say they’re looking forward to meeting with the governor to come to an agreement on the next state budget.

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