State agencies may have to cut budgets again

Phoenix, AZ – Gov. Jan Brewer is instructing her agency heads to prepare to
slash another 15 to 20 percent from their spending plans. Part of
the problem is that Brewer rejected some of the cuts enacted
earlier this summer by legislators because she said they hurt
public education too much. But gubernatorial press aide Paul
Senseman said state tax collections, already weak, are even worse
than anticipated. Senseman said the first step will be to
determine what can't be trimmed, either because it's legally
required or off limits to cuts because the program was mandated
by voters. Beyond that the situation is murkier.

(It's certainly safe for you to say that the executive will ask
the Legislature to relieve some agencies of service obligations,
if they going to have to meet the kind of spending reduction
requirements to prevent additional cash-flow problems.)

The other factor is that Brewer was counting on lawmakers to put
on the ballot -- and voters to approve -- a temporary sales tax
hike that could raise $80 million a month. That hasn't happened.
But Senseman said the proposed cuts are not a scare tactic
designed to build support for higher taxes. He said the fact is
that the budget is about $1 billion in the red. And some spending
cuts are going to be necessary, with or without a tax hike. For
Arizona Public Radio this is Howard Fischer.