State Capitol News
2:19 am
Fri February 20, 2009

State leaders consider federal stimulus dollars

Phoenix, AZ – Some new figures show the state could be in line for more than 4
billion dollars in federal stimulus money. But lawmakers and the governor aren't
sure how much the state can afford to take.

Some of the cash comes with no strings attached, like $185
million being given to Gov. Jan Brewer to spend as she wants.
There's another $832 million for education at all levels. But
that requires the state to fund K-12, community colleges and
universities at least at 2006 levels.

And the recent $150 million
taken from higher education mean some of those funds may go away
if lawmakers make more cuts. Then there are other special grants
like $50 million to subsidize day care, money Arizona will get
only if lawmakers restore $24 million just cut in state funding.
Sen. Russell Pearce said the conditions may make the cost of
getting the aid too dear.

"We can't afford what we have now. That's why we're in trouble in
part. Part of the problem is not just the economy. It certainly
has a major impact. We have fallen, construction jobs, people
losing homes. Those have had a devastating effect on our
citizens. But part of the problem is we have overgrown
government. We have expanded government beyond the ability to
sustain that kind of growth."

Brewer press aide Paul Senseman said the governor wants to accept
as much in federal money as the state can get, if for no other
reason than it gets back cash Arizonans sent to Washington in the
first place. But he said Brewer doesn't want to do anything that
exacerbates the state budget deficit.