State Capitol News
11:32 am
Fri December 18, 2009

State Senate approves more cuts

Phoenix, AZ – State senators approved a plan Thursday to cut spending and sweep
money from special funds in a bid to close a 1-point-6 billion
dollar hole in the budget. But some funds got better treatment than others.

The reason is purely politics. Rep. Jerry Weiers said he wouldn't
vote for the plan unless his pet fund was protected -- one that
benefits users of off-road vehicles trails. He said it wouldn't
be fair to take the money.

"Because they're fees. People are paying fees for specific usages
such as keeping trails open, such as law enforcement, such as
signage, maps, coordinates, mitigation. And if you start taking
those fees and put them toward the general fund and treating them
like a tax. They're not a tax. They're a fee."

But the legislative plan raids other accounts financed by fees
like those on boaters to improve lakes and utility ratepayers for
consumer protection by the Corporation Commission. Weiers was
unimpressed.

"It's not exactly like it would hurt my feelings if the
Corporation Commission went away either."

That annoyed commission chair Kris Mayes who said some of the
fees being swept come from firms that incorporate in the state.
She said less money means it takes longer for companies to set up
shop -- and to start stimulating the state economy.

"People will go to other states. So I guess I just respectfully
disagree that it's more important to fund off-road vehicle
recreation than it is to form new businesses in Arizona."

The House takes up the plan today.