By Daniel Stefanski |
Two weeks after the Arizona Senate passed the state’s budget for 2023-2024, the House followed suit, setting the stage for another early legislative session showdown with Democrat Governor Katie Hobbs’ office.
Last week, the Arizona House attempted to pass a budget, but Republican Liz Harris voted with Democrats to stop progress on this front in a narrowly divided chamber. Rep. Harris tweeted after her February 9 vote that she “will reject this budget until we right size and restore it to a level that is commensurate with our economic growth.”
Time was ultimately on Speaker Ben Toma’s side, and this week, all House Republicans came together to join their Senate colleagues in passing the $15.8 billion budget. According to the communication from the Arizona Senate Republican Caucus on February 1, this budget is “$2.3 billion less than the state budget that was approved last year and $1.3 billion less than the Governor’s proposed budget.”
Also, “to absorb any revenue loss, this approved budget leaves $1.8 billion in cash available by the end of fiscal year 2024, in addition to the $1.4 billion available in the state’s Rainy-Day Fund.”
In a release sent out by the Arizona House Republicans touting the passage of this budget, Speaker Toma proclaimed victory and challenged the governor to sign the legislation for the good of all Arizonans:
“House Republicans have acted today to pass a responsible state budget. It’s one that was crafted with the needs of the state, and of Arizona’s families in mind, families who are struggling during this economic recession caused by reckless federal overspending and far-left priorities….This budget passed today continues the same budget which was approved less than a year ago with a bipartisan majority and was cheered at the time by Governor Hobbs and Democratic Minority Leader Cano.”
Speaker Toma’s reference to then-Secretary of State Hobbs supporting the last budget was highlighted by Rep. Jacqueline Parker, who shared a tweet from Hobbs from the conclusion of last year’s process:
Arizona Senate Republicans also cheered this week’s action by the House:
Other House Republicans celebrated the budget passage after their votes on the floor. Rep. Austin Smith tweeted, “I voted YES on the budget today to keep the government running so no Arizonan is held hostage to special interests. Democrats keep threatening a veto from Katie Hobbs. They are willing to shutdown the government to protect special interests. SAD!”
Rep. David Livingston wrote, “Great news, the Arizona House just passed the 2023-2024 Budget! Now we transfer the budget bills to Governor Hobbs.”
House Majority Leader Leo Biasiucci stated, “Arizona House passes budget to avoid Arizona shutdown. Will Governor Hobbs Veto this bipartisan budget or will she do what’s right for every resident of Arizona?”
Arizona House Democrats were much less complimentary of this week’s action to pass the budget and transmit to the governor’s office.
Rep. Laura Terech tweeted, “This is a budget that is destined for a veto. Hopefully, we will be sitting down together soon to do the real work of finding meaningful bipartisan solutions for Arizonans.”
Minority Whip Marcelino Quiñonez said, “The dynamics in Arizona politics changed in November 2022, & this rushed budget headed to the Governor’s desk ignores that reality. The final budget we pass as a body this session must be bipartisan, everything until then is only a distraction. The work starts after the veto.”
The Republican-led budget is dead on arrival at the Ninth Floor. Governor Hobbs released a statement in opposition to the incoming budget, saying, “The issues Arizonans are facing require more than business as usual. I will not sign a budget that is just more of the same and does nothing to demonstrate a desire to move our state forward.”
Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.