Some East Valley lawmakers are leading a formal call for Gov. Janet Napolitano to release her so-called "war budget," the latest political shot between her and Republicans in a battle over public opinion on the worst fiscal crisis in state history.
Napolitano said in mid-February that she was working on an alternative to her plan for resolving a predicted $1 billion budget shortfall next fiscal year because of the pending war with Iraq.
The governor’s original plan includes a prediction that tax revenue will grow by 4 percent as the state economy improves. But airlines, the tourism industry and other sectors could be significantly damaged by the war.
In an orchestrated move Thursday, Republican lawmakers in the House and
Senate demanded that Napolitano publicly disclose her alternatives.
"Since six weeks have passed . . . I’m wondering when we’re going to see that budget coming forward," said Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert. "I’m a tad frustrated and a little bit concerned that it’s been this long without any followthrough by the governor’s office."
Republicans have claimed Napolitano’s plan depends too heavily on borrowing and would set the stage for a massive tax hike in 2005. But GOP lawmakers have been stung by a barrage of complaints that their budget proposal would cut too deeply into education, health care for the poor and economic development.
Some lawmakers suspect that Napolitano’s "war budget" would include many of the GOP proposed cuts.
"Hopefully, when it’s revealed, it will include a more fiscally sound approach to address our challenges than her original proposal," said Rep. Steve Yarbrough, R-Chandler.
The series of speeches prompted Rep. John Loredo, D-Phoenix, to point out that the Senate and House have stopped holding committee hearings on the budget, and that House Republicans tried to hold a private meeting on the issue last week.
"Before you start throwing rocks at the governor, you should get your own house in order," Loredo said.
Napolitano said Tuesday she isn’t releasing a "war budget" at this point because projections won’t need to change if the conflict ends soon.