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May 23, 2024 5:16 PM
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Arizona GOP warns of gridlock in July if budget talks don’t pick up – The Center Square

The new fiscal year for the Arizona government begins on July 1, but GOP lawmakers say Democrats aren’t at the table.

On February 1, the Republican caucus passed a budget proposal maintaining previous funding levels. The bill was unanimously opposed by the Democrats and vetoed by Gov. Katie Hobbs on February 16.

“The governor called it a ‘do nothing budget’…the fact of the matter is the budget did a lot,” a state Senate news release read. “Included in this budget was not only funding for the next fiscal year, but supplemental funding for several state agencies. Consequently, those agencies will soon run out of money prior to the next fiscal year.”

The Legislature’s Republican members cited concerns over the stall in the budget.

“A reasonable governor would have signed the budget and negotiated how to spend the surplus funds separately,” Senate President Warren Petersen, R-Gilbert, said. “A wise governor would have, at a minimum, line itemed everything except for the current year supplemental funding, ensuring that the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, Arizona’s K-12 public schools, and the Arizona State Hospital system had enough money to make it through the next few months. Chalk it up to inexperience. Her senseless veto means all are at risk.”

In response to the veto, Senate Appropriations Chairman David Gowan, R-Sierra Vista, issued an email on March 2 asking for budget priorities from all members. Republicans responded individually, while Minority Leader Mitsi Epstein, D-Tempe, issued a report on March 16, saying the caucus would not respond for another month. As of April 26, Senate leaders have yet to hear from them.

“We are just weeks away from some government agencies running out of funding because legislative Democrats are stalling,” Petersen said. “I’m confident we would have already passed a budget had the Democrats spent the last seven weeks negotiating the budget with us in good faith.”

In the meantime, Petersen and House Speaker Ben Toma, R-Phoenix met with Hobbs on March 20 to establish rules for the second budget proposal.

The Arizona State Senate Democratic Caucus did not respond to The Center Square for comment.

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