Republican legislative leaders are hoping to fix at least part of the state budget before Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano leaves, as has been reported.
But how much time they have remains unclear.
Sen. Bob Burns, R-Peoria, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, said Napolitano has offered a number of suggestions for bridging what now appears to be a $1.2 billion gap this fiscal year between tax collections and anticipated expenses.
Burns said he anticipates having a counterproposal on Napolitano's desk as early as Monday.
All that presumes, however, Napolitano will be around when lawmakers are ready to adopt a new plan.
Even if President-elect Barack Obama were to formally announce today that Napolitano is his choice to become secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, some question remains how long the governor would keep her job. After all, Obama does not even become president until Jan. 20.
"We're really in a gray area in terms of not knowing what we're dealing with," Burns said.
The moment Napolitano were to resign, Republican Secretary of State Jan Brewer would become governor. And Burns said she is likely to have far different ideas of how to balance the budget.
"Philosophically, we'll be a lot more parallel if that takes place," he said of Brewer, adding she is more likely to support actual spending cuts and less likely to seek to fix the deficit through fiscal maneuvers that only postpone the problems.
Burns, who will be Senate president next year, said he did raise the question of Napolitano's future with her at a meeting Thursday afternoon. He declined to say what she told lawmakers.
But Burns said that, from his perspective, if Napolitano intends to leave, she should do it sooner than later. He said that would make it easier to resolve the budget crunch.
"We'd know who we're dealing with," he said. "We would get rid of this 'When is she leaving?' 'Is she leaving?' - unanswered questions which are certainly causing us some grief at the moment."
Burns said, though, he has to operate under the premise that Napolitano is not leaving, at least for the time being.