Friday, March 12, 2010

GOP votes to pass wrong-track budget, eagerly cutting jobs, education and health care

Ariz. Lawmakers Pass Budget
Sarah Buduson

PHOENIX -- After eight months without a spending plan, Arizona lawmakers have passed a budget.

Lawmakers OK'd a spending plan for FY10-11 and closed a $700 million shortfall for FY10 Thursday night.

Gov. Jan Brewer is expected to sign the budget bills.

However, Democrats and the state treasurer said the budget leaves a lot of the state’s fiscal future up in the air.

"We believe this budget is a phony budget,” said Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-District 15.

"It's not a balanced budget,” said Dean Martin, Arizona State Treasurer.

The governor’s spending plan counts on voters agreeing to a one percent sales tax increase in May.

It also assumes voters will give lawmakers permission to sweep millions of dollars from First Things First, a fund for early childhood services, and the Growing Smart Land Conservation Fund.

"If the voters don't agree to give those dollars to give to the state to fill the deficit, then this budget will be potentially a billion dollars back in the hole,” said Sinema.

The state could also face lawsuits over the plan to cut 310,000 adults from AHCCCS. If they are sued and lose, the state would be forced to re-enroll everyone on the state health plan.

"They may pass the budget today. It may get signed over the weekend, but this is long from being over,” said Martin.

Gov. Brewer’s spokesman, Paul Senseman, defended the budget.

“This is a very solid plan,” he said. “This budget is balanced, it's reasonable and it's the only budget that's been proposed."
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