Phoenix, AZ – Governor Jan Brewer signed a 650 million dollar budget fix today.
And she specifically
defended a provision that bridges some of the gap by taking money
from school districts.
The measures defer $300 million in payments that were supposed to
be made to aid public schools. Also delayed is $100 million owed
to the state university system. Instead, the funds will be paid
after July 1, taking the expense off this year's books. But the
package also absolves the state from having to repay what, in
effect, is a loan: The amount reimbursed next budget year to
public school districts will be reduced by the dollars that some
lawmakers have called ``excess'' unspent funds in their accounts,
a figure that could be as high as $250 million. The governor
brushed aside complaints by some school officials that will force
them either to raise taxes or cut spending.
(Well, it's always unfortunate when you have to go in and take
money and use money for a reason that it wasn't always intended
for. But we are facing the hugest crisis in the state of Arizona
that we ever faced. So we have to do what we believe is right and
And Brewer called the possibility of future teacher layoffs,
quote, speculative. The balance of that $650 million deficit is
being made up with $250 million in stimulus funds. But that means
$250 million less for the coming year's budget and its
anticipated $3.3 billion shortfall.