Lawmakers Approve Budget

May 1, 2012

State lawmakers voted this afternoon on a nearly 8-point-6 billion spending plan that Democrats contend ignores critical state needs. 

Both sides agree that state revenues are on the increase. But Republicans want to bank $450 million of that against anticipated future deficits while the Democrats say there are more immediate needs. Sen. Steve Gallardo said one of those is a proposal to fund adult education programs.

"The idea that this Legislature will not be able to provide only, what is it, $4.6 million, yet we are sticking $450 million in a rainy day fund," said Gallardo. "It's unconscionable. Folks, it's raining, it's raining in the state of Arizona."

Democrats also complained about the lack of funds for books and computers for public schools and the failure to restore the Kids Care program that provides health care for the children of the working poor. But Rep. John Kavanagh said that, given the expiration of the 1-cent temporary sales tax hike next year coupled with possible costs of the federal health care act, even that $450 million may not be enough to balance the 2015 budget.

"We're taking a little bit of a gamble that the economy will recover a little bit better than it might," said Kavanagh. "But we know that we can also make adjustments in the next two years should it not. I'm uncomfortable taking even more money away from this rainy day fund because 2015 might not just be a rainy day. It could be a hurricane. We don't know."

The Democratic minority failed to gain the votes to increase any funding.