State budget battle resumes today - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

State budget battle resumes today

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Posted: Monday, July 6, 2009 7:16 am | Updated: 1:21 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

The next round in the prolonged state budget battle resumes Monday, as lawmakers are expected to reconvene at the Capitol at the urging of Gov. Jan Brewer, who has called them into special session.

Brewer last week vetoed pieces of the state budget and then ordered state lawmakers to return to the Capitol today to fix it.

Brewer called the $8.4 billion budget they adopted "fatally flawed."

"The legislative budget ignores my consistently expressed goals and instead incorporates devastating cuts to education, public safety, and our state's most vital health services for the frail,'' the governor said in a prepared statement las week.

That prompted strong reactions from GOP leaders in the Legislature, who suggested the governer was not acting responsibly in order to get her way.

Brewer said she wants lawmakers to come in at 1 p.m. Monday to adopt a budget she finds more acceptable. Her call specifically includes her demand that legislators put a measure on the November ballot asking voters to approve a one-cent hike in the state's 5.6 percent sales tax.

Inclusion of the tax proposal has been the major sticking point between the Republican governor and her GOP counterparts who control the state Legislature.

The governor said the tax, which would begin Jan. 1 if approved, could raise $1 billion a year. She said the proceeds would offset some of the more than $600 million in spending cuts that remain in the budget, including $220 million reductions in state aid to education.

Aside from calling for the temporary tax hike, Brewer specifically used her power of line-item veto to eliminate the approximately $3.2 billion lawmakers set aside in basic state aid to public schools.

Brewer said, though, she wants lawmakers to spend more, not less. But since her only authority is to take specific lines of the budget on an all-or-nothing basis, she decided not to take it, instead saying she hopes now to work with lawmakers to come up with an "acceptable level of funding.''

She also vetoed the Legislature's decision to put nearly $43.2 million in vehicle license fees into the general fund to balance the budget. Brewer wants the money to stay where it is in the Highway User Fund where it finances road construction and maintenance.

And Brewer specifically rejected lump sum reductions in funding, like a $40 million cut to be allocated among the three state universities and other reductions for the health, economic security and environmental quality departments. She called those reductions "excessive.''

Includes material from Capitol Media Services

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