House Republican leaders will make another attempt today to craft a budget acceptable to their members for the coming year. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer explains.
Last week the Senate approved a nearly $9.2 billion spending plan. That’s about $175 million less than requested by Gov. Jan Brewer. One big issue is that the governor wants a lot more money for the new Division of Child Safety, including $21.5 million for new caseworkers and staff. Brewer wants to avoid last year’s fiasco where it was found that 6,500 child-abuse complaints went uninvestigated. And, that’s on top of a backlog of 10,000 cases that are listed as inactive because they have not been acted on in more than two months. Child welfare aside, some House Republicans say the Senate-approved plan ignores other priorities. For example, Rep. Heather Carter complained of the lack of funding for emergency dental care for Medicaid recipients.
“It’s $2.1 million. It is money well spent because people present at the emergency room with emergency dental situations. And it actually costs the state more than if we would just restore the services,” Carter said.
It became apparent about 9 p.m. Monday that House Speaker Andy Tobin did not have the votes for the plan. So, he shut down the debate and went behind closed doors with Carter and other Republican holdouts to see if he could cobble together the necessary 31 votes out of the 36-member GOP caucus.