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Democrats to roll out budget plan today, committees scrutinize stimulus package

Senate Democrats will roll out their budget plan today, as committees begin to delve into specific components of the $4 billion that Arizona is poised to receive in federal stimulus money.

Democrats have provided the Republican leadership with a list of budget options.

Senate minority leader Jorge Garcia told the Arizona Capitol Times recently that the plan includes allowing a $250-million property tax to come back on the books, securitizing or borrowing off some revenue streams, such as the lottery, suspending certain tax credits and factoring in federal stimulus money.

"I've got the list and I've looked at it," Senate President Bob Burns said. "We'll give it some consideration."

Meanwhile, committees will begin reviewing specific components of the federal economic recovery package this week to assess its impact on the state budget.

Much of the task of dissecting the package would fall on the healthcare, education, and public safety and human services committees, according to the Senate majority office. A good chunk of the $4 billion in stimulus money is dedicated to healthcare and education.

Other committees will look at the tax implications of the package, particularly as it relates to state conformity with the Internal Revenue Code.

Meanwhile, lawmakers want to position Arizona as a destination for businesses after California decided to raise state taxes on sales and income to help close its deficit.

"California's choice to raise taxes is sending employers to other states like Arizona to avoid those taxes. We need to keep our employers here and attract those who are fleeing California's high taxation," said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Gray.

"We need to let the world know Arizona is open for business and the policies here will provide a terrific place to live, work and most of all employ," said Senate Majority Whip Pamela Gorman.

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