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May 19, 2024 10:41 PM
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Hobbs mum on early budget talks with Republican leaders – The Central Square

Photo: Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs takes questions after speaking at the Arizona Space Summit on March 28, 2024 (Photo credit: Cameron Arcand)

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs is staying quiet on budget talks that recently kicked off between her office and legislative Republican leadership.

The talks began later than usual, but the legislative session is starting to wind down to once-a-week meetings in order to place emphasis on the process.

“We are very early in the process, and I’m really not gonna talk publicly about where we’re negotiating because I think that is a recipe for derailing the process,” Hobbs said on Monday morning following a ceremonial bill signing at the Executive Tower.

She would not dive into further details when further questioned on the budget, but said she’s “always optimistic.”

The Joint Legislative Budget Committee estimates a $1.7 billion deficit, which means that compromises from both parties might have to be made to decide how to best tackle the shortfall. The Center Square previously reported that Republicans are planning to refuse cuts to the Empowerment Scholarship Account program, Arizona’s school choice program, which many Democrats have seen as a way to cut back on costs.

In an April 3 news release, Senate Republicans said the governor’s office spent months “stalling,” and the process only started in the last week of March.

“With necessary negotiations on bills, state agency continuations, and a state budget, there is quite a bit of behind-the-scenes business that will need to be conducted at the Legislature between leadership and the appropriations teams before lawmakers can vote any remaining reforms or proposals. As a result, we will only call all lawmakers in for floor proceedings on a weekly basis, as finalized legislation becomes available for a vote,” Senate President Warren Petersen said in a statement at the time.

“Out of respect for everyone’s time, other off-campus work, and family obligations, we are allowing lawmakers to tend to those commitments. With the Governor’s cooperation, we’re hopeful we can wrap up the session within the next month,” he continued.

To state government funding issues, the budget’s last day for passage is June 30, as the state’s new fiscal year kicks off on July 1.

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