Republican legislative leaders say they have struck a deal with the governor on a budget plan that includes more than $600 million in spending cuts. It also contains a provision to let voters decide this fall whether to temporarily raise the sales tax by one cent to help bridge steep deficits that are expected for the next several years.
“We’ve reached an agreement with the governor that respects the Legislature’s budget and meets the governor’s goals of additional revenue,” House Speaker Kirk Adams said in the early morning hours of June 26.
Adams declined to give details about the budget, saying he needed to brief House Republicans on the agreement before discussing it publicly.
Burns also said a deal was in place.
Governor’s Office spokesman Paul Senseman said the two parties were still meeting over the budget and that no deal has been finalized.“My understanding is at this point we’re still meeting,” he said.
On June 4, the Legislature approved a budget that was crafted by the majority Republicans. However, Senate President Bob Burns has refrained from sending the bills to Brewer, who has said she would veto them.
Instead, Republican leaders in both chambers used the threat of sending the bills to the governor on the final day of the fiscal year – which would force her to sign them or veto them and all but assure a government shutdown – to force Brewer to negotiate.
Although Brewer sued the lawmakers and the Arizona Supreme Court ruled in her favor June 23, the court did not compel Burns to send her the bills because the June 30 end of the fiscal year was so near.
On Thursday, June 25, both the House and Senate introduced legislation paving the way for the budget agreement. The bills, known in legislative parlance as “trailer bills,” will be crafted to amend the budget that was approved June 4 to match the negotiated agreement. Once those measures are approved, they will be transmitted to Brewer along with the earlier budget bills.
House and Senate rules require bills be read on the floor three times and on three different days. They were first read June 25, and were expected to receive a second reading June 26.
Legislative leaders have indicated they plan to work on Saturday, June 27, which is likely when the budget bills we be voted on by lawmakers.