State Lawmakers on the Verge of Budget Completion

Apr 7, 2014

State lawmakers are putting the finishing touches this afternoon on a new budget. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer reports.

Senate President Andy Biggs

The plan spends a bit more than what Senate Republicans sought but less than what was proposed by House Republicans. For example, the state’s three universities will get an extra $4.5 million, down about a million from the House plan, but still close to twice as much as the Senate plan. Those in the state Medicaid program will get access to insulin pumps. But, senators would not support a House desire to expand that to include chiropractors and podiatrists. Senate President Andy Biggs acknowledged he was holding out over what amounted to a $20 million spending difference in a $9.2 billion budget. He said it was necessary.

“I always believed that $20 million, if it was your and my money and we wanted to throw it away, that’s one thing. But if it’s taxpayers’ money, $20 million is real money to me,” Biggs said.

The deal also has the Senate accepting House-crafted language which would appear to commit the Legislature to revisiting funding for the new Department of Child Welfare and Family Services when it is created. But Biggs, who had opposed any sort of commitment, said he’s not concerned, as lawmakers remain free to vote at some future time to overrule it. A vote could come within hours.