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House calls off budget vote, tries to regroup

The House called off a push to vote on a budget agreement with the governor because Republican leaders were unable to round up enough votes to pass the package.

“We’re continuing to work through the membership on the comprehensive budget,” House Speaker Kirk Adams said.

Adams and other Republican leaders had planned to hear a package of 12 budget bills in committee and then approve them on the floor on June 27. However, the chamber changed course late in the afternoon after it became clear they did not have the needed support for the bills.

House Majority Leader John McComish said it may have been too ambitious to expect to be able to approve a budget less than a day after the deal was announced and presented to members, especially given a provision of the deal with Gov. Jan Brewer that requires a sales-tax increase be referred to the ballot this fall. Many Republican legislators have said for months they would not favor such a move.

“In hindsight, that was too big a bite to get done today,” McComish said.

The Appropriations Committee approved 9 of the bills. Among those bills was the main spending bill. The ballot-referral measure was not considered by the committee, nor was another bill that would create a flat income-tax system beginning in 2012.

The committee, like the chamber, will resume work June 29. Adams said he was “cautiously optimistic” the House and Senate, which also has been unable to gin up support for the budget, will avoid a government shutdown by passing a budget before the July 1 start of the next fiscal year.

“When we have everything locked up, all the adjustments made, we’ll go,” he said.

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