Don’t expect the budget to gain much traction this week – at least not the version passed by the House that includes a mix of income tax cuts, a 5 percent reduction in the state work force and a ballot referral for a sales tax increase.
We hear it’s a no-go in the Senate, where Pamela Gorman and Ron Gould are holding out because of the tax referral and Carolyn Allen is holding out because of the tax cut. Allen stayed away from the Capitol last week because of knee injury that might require surgery, but she told us she is opposed to the budget plan and won’t vote for the proposed $400 million income tax cut.
None of those three are likely to change their minds. Gould ain’t voting for it; he just keeps getting more and more opposed to taxes as each day passes, saying last week that he’ll never vote for a tax increase. Gorman likely won’t vote for it; she already spent hours getting cajoled by the governor, but nothing came of it. And Allen voted against some of the budget bills, even before the income tax reduction was added, so she’s likely to stand firm as well.
Sen. Jim Waring is out of town, but he said he’d come back if his vote was needed to pass the budget. So, we’re counting him as a “yes,” though technically he’s absent.
Same goes for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Gray, who is on a cruise but is expected to be ready to fly back to cast his vote if necessary.
That leaves 15 votes in the Senate, one short of the number needed to pass the 10 budget bills. That’s the same math that stalled the budget’s passage last week. It’s likely to do the same this week, unless a new round of negotiations begins.
Because no action is likely this week on the existing proposal, GOP leaders might opt to go back to the drawing board with Democrats to see if they can craft something with bipartisan approval that is strong enough to override a governor’s veto.
The only other option, besides continuing to pound on the three Senate Republicans, would be to try to peel off a Democrat. Janet Napolitano was masterful at finding a Republican vote or two when she needed them, but it remains to be seen if Brewer has the same skills or cache.