Senate passes budget plan

Phoenix, AZ – The state Senate gave its blessing early this morning to its plan
to balance the budget.

The package contains more than $650 million in spending cuts on
top of $580 million already slashed just months ago. It also uses
$1.1 billion in federal stimulus dollars to bridge what lawmakers
say is a $3 billion gap between revenues and expenses. And then
there are some more creative things, like a plan to get a private
firm to pay $100 million for the right to operate several state
prisons for the next 50 years. What it does not include is the
temporary tax hike demanded by Gov. Jan Brewer. But Senate
President Bob Burns said it's necessary for Republican lawmakers
to adopt this plan anyway despite a threatened veto.

(I think we need this as a leverage to negotiate. We need to show
we've got the votes and we can put a bill on her desk. And then,
I think, I would hope, she would be willing to negotiate at that
point in time.)

Burns acknowledged he and House Speaker Kirk Adams have been
meeting with the governor.

(We haven't had a lot of interaction relative to a package. She's
had her package, we've had ours. And so we haven't gotten it
boiled down to a single package at this point.)

The House takes up the plan later today.