Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Republicans still want to pass phony, wrong-track budget despite numerous concerns

Howard Fischer- Capitol Media Service

PHOENIX -- Legislative panels approved more than $1 billion in spending cuts, nearly $500 million in raids on special funds and some other budget maneuvers on Tuesday in their bid to balance the budget.

The votes in the House and Senate Appropriations committees, largely along party lines, came over the objections of various interests whose pet programs will get less funding or who are finding themselves with new financial obligations. Those calls went largely unheeded.

But there are indications that one element of the plan is in trouble.

House Speaker Kirk Adams, R-Mesa, conceded that he may have to reconsider making counties responsible for housing juvenile delinquents. That move, which also is backed by Gov. Jan Brewer, would save the state $63 million a year.

Several lawmakers said they were concerned by claims by county officials that they have neither the staff nor the facilities to suddenly absorb what has for years been a state function. And Rep. Russ Jones, R-Yuma, pointed out that shift is coming without the state providing any cash.

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