Arizona GOP Legislators Use 2022 Budget for This Year To Ease Taxpayer Burden
By Corinne Murdock |
On Monday, the Arizona Senate Appropriations Committee approved reusing last year’s budget for the coming year, citing concerns over the current poor state of the economy.
The budget bill, SB1523, passed along partisan lines, 6-4. The Republican majority of the committee insisted that this budget structure was a fiscally wise move, while the Democratic minority claimed that Republicans were merely unwilling to negotiate with them.
Gov. Katie Hobbs criticized the budget as a “do-nothing” plan.
Republican legislators wondered whether Hobbs would close government-funded entities to obtain her ideal budget.
“[W]ill she veto the budget and threaten the possibility of closing our schools, law enforcement agencies, and health care services?” asked House Majority Leader Leo Biasiucci (R-LD30).
During Monday’s Senate Appropriations Committee meeting, Democrats alleged that Republicans weren’t concerned about the economy. Rather, they said that their budget reflected a refusal to work with either them or Hobbs.
Senate Minority Caucus Chair Lela Alston (D-LD05) called the budget a “phony bill,” a “power grab,” and a “Ducey budget” that avoided negotiations with Hobbs and Democrats. State Sen. Priya Sundareshan (D-LD18) claimed it was disrespectful to not give them more notice. The legislators received the bill on Monday evening. Sundareshan implied that last year’s Democratic legislators were only satisfied with the budget because they had several different Democrats in the legislature and didn’t have a Democratic governor in power.
“I understand that this budget may have been modeled after a bipartisan one last year, but that does not reflect the reality on the ground today. We have different legislators in the legislature today, we have a different governor, we have different circumstances on the ground,” said Sundareshan.
State Sen. John Kavanagh (R-LD03), the committee chairman, countered Democrats’ claims that the budget was sprung upon them suddenly Monday evening. Kavanagh said that they had plenty of notice of budget proceedings over the past month.
“It wouldn’t be a phony budget to the state employees, to those who rely on state monies come July when government shuts down. To them, this wouldn’t have been a phony budget, this would’ve been a lifesaver budget, including schools and teachers,” said Kavanagh.
State Sen. Anthony Kern (R-LD27) said that the budget was “skinny” and “responsible” since the state and nation are living in times of economic uncertainty. State Sen. Jake Hoffman (R-LD15) concurred. He questioned why Hobbs would veto the budget when she knew how a Republican-led legislature would structure the budgets in response to their constituents.
“We are going into times of economic uncertainty, and this budget is going to keep the lights on,” said Hoffman.
Senate Democrats criticized the budget for being too similar to last year’s version. However, last year the caucus praised the budget as a “historic and rare opportunity” for schools.
In a press release following the Senate Appropriations Committee advancing their version of the budget, House Minority Leader Andrés Cano (D-LD20) claimed that Republicans were “afraid” of Hobbs, and needed to “grow up.” Similarly, Senate Minority Leader Raquel Terán (D-LD26) said that Republicans needed to “act their age” to improve the budget.
Following the Senate advancing its version of the budget, House Republicans introduced their version on Tuesday. State Rep. David Livingston (R-LD28) expressed confidence that all 13 of his introduced budget bills would pass during Wednesday’s House Appropriations Committee meeting, which he chairs.
In a press release, Livingston called Hobbs’ budget plan an “irresponsible,” “left-wing” wish list.
“In this time of political division and economic uncertainty, that won’t work for Arizonans, and it won’t pass at the legislature,” said Livingston.
The Joint Legislative Budget Committee (JLBC) report of the budget forecasted $17.6 billion in ongoing revenue for the upcoming fiscal year, nearly $15 billion in ongoing expenditures, and nearly $858,000 in one-time expenditures.
The budget includes $183 million in one-time funding for building renewal grants, $78 million from the state general fund for a one-time deposit in the new schools facility fund, and $200 million from the state general fund for the superintendent.
Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to email@example.com.