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Senate Dems say AZ can bridge $3B gap without more cuts

Senate Democrats say Arizona can bridge a $3 billion budget deficit without cutting a single penny more from the state budget.

The proposal, which was announced this morning, relies heavily on federal stimulus aid and includes securitizing the state's lottery proceeds and its prisons. They also want to see the state defer some agency payments and funding for the universities to the next fiscal year.

The list of "budget plan strategies" also calls for suspending all tax credits and continuing $580 million in spending cuts recently approved for the current fiscal year.

"The people have told us that they don't want draconian cuts and they will do anything to resolve those cuts," said Sen. Paula Aboud, D-28. "There are ways to solve this budge deficit that don't involve continual budget cuts."

In January, Republican budget leaders announced their own options for solving the budget crisis that includes about $2.2 billion in cuts for the 2010 fiscal year, including about $900 million to K-12 education and more than $300 million from universities.

Senate Democratic leaders said they hoped their Republican counterparts will seriously consider their ideas.

"These are options for discussion," said Senate Minority Leader Jorge Luis Garcia.

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