Phoenix, AZ – The plan had been for the House to give final approval to the
package already approved by the Senate. They did vote last week
to send a measure to the ballot for a temporary hike in sales
taxes. But House Speaker Kirk Adams said he does not yet have the
votes for measures to borrow money to balance this year's books.
That includes selling off and leasing back $300 million of state
buildings and borrowing $450 million against state lottery
proceeds for the next 20 years. Rep. Andy Biggs said it's not
right to borrow money for a one-time fix to the budget. But he
said the issue goes beyond the question of fiscal policy.
(We have a constitutional limitation on our debt in this state.
And while it's clever to say that these type of instruments are
not debt, the reality is, this is massive debt. And therefore,
it's in my opinion unconstitutional.)
Legislative leaders acknowledge the $350,000 limit on state debt.
But they say these two measures don't violate that because they
don't impose any long-term obligation on the state treasury. The
bills awaiting action also include some short-term borrowing,
delaying $350 million owed to schools this spring until August
and $100 million in state aid to universities into September.
Adams said he does not know when he will have the votes for final
approval. For Arizona Public Radio this is Howard Fischer.