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Monday, July 6, 2009

O Arizona: An Uneasy Budget Compromise Through a Labyrinthine Process

The House of Representatives and Senate unanimously approved a four-bill package that will again position Arizona to receive $2.3 billion of federal stimulus money for health care and education. The votes came with enough support to enact the bills immediately following a signature from Gov. Jan Brewer, and the governor has indicated she is “absolutely delighted” with the proposal. Although she would not say whether she would sign the bills, she gave no indication she disapproved.

“It seems to me they funded my top priorities,” Brewer said early Monday evening. “I'm feeling pretty good. Certainly, we claim victory.” The legislative action is needed in the wake of Brewer's numerous vetoes of the budget package that lawmakers passed last week.

One line-item veto erased the entire K-12 budget, a move Brewer made to emphasize her point that lawmakers are not adequately funding public education. The veto also put Arizona out of compliance with the funding requirements to tap $1 billion in stimulus dollars for education.

Another veto wiped out language that put Arizona in line to receive $1.3 billion in Medicaid match money.

The approved bills reverse the effects of those vetoes, but still leave numerous other issues unresolved — and the state budget unbalanced. The lawmakers went for home shortly after 7 p.m.

link: Arizona lawmakers have reached a bipartisan agreement


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