State Capitol News
1:43 pm
Mon June 29, 2009

Lawmakers ready budget contingency plan

Phoenix, AZ – State lawmakers are quietly putting together a contingency plan
to keep state government operating -- at least for a while -- if
there's no budget deal soon.

The budget year ends midnight Tuesday night. At that point, with
few execptions, there's no authority to spend any money. Efforts
to craft a package acceptable to both a majority of lawmakers and
the governor have stalled over questions of higher taxes. If
there is no deal, Rep. John Kavanagh said plans are underway to
enact an interim budget.

(But, of course, it would only be for a short time, 30 days, two
weeks. So the pressure would still be there to solve it. But we
would not have a massive shutdown of the state. And the roads
clogged and the parks closed on July 4th, which would be tragic.

Sen. Russell Pearce said he's willing to keep everything
operating -- but perhaps only for two weeks. After that, he's not
prepared to have business as usual but only a modified budget.

(If that happens, though, it'll be a stripped-down version. It'll
keep vital functions going. It's not going to shut down those
things, I mean, there won't be any women and children dying in
the street. We'll keep public safety going. We'll keep vital
services going.)

The question lawmakers will have to decide is what is a vital
service -- and what is not.