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Pie in the sky?

It seems everyone who is involved in the five -party talks is maintaining a very effective press silence. Much of the information about the meetings comes second- or third-hand from lawmakers who talk with or are briefed by one of the principals.

Yesterday, Senate President Bob Burns and Senate Minority Leader Jorge Garcia met in the Senate and then went to talk with Governor Brewer. The focus of the discussions was “process.” Choosing his words carefully, Garcia said, “Believe it or not, the process is complicated especially in this situation, where it’s so late and issues get convoluted.” Speaker Kirk Adams and House Minority Leader David Lujan were not part of yesterday’s talks with Brewer. The five-party negotiations resumed this morning with Dems presenting a version of their budget plan that would get their caucus support. Apparently, it was very similar to the budget and BRB revisions they constructed late in the regular session as an alternative to the GOP budget.

It was not well received. Reportedly, that first proposal contained some $600 million in additional spending compared to the GOP budget. Adams said the Dems’ proposal was not even in the ballpark. “It was not a serious proposal,” he said. The governor asked the Dems to pare down their requests and come back again this afternoon. Garcia told our reporter the Dems were preparing a new proposal for this afternoon’s meeting, and Republican staff said they expected the revised proposal to be “more realistic.” One source told our reporter the new Dem proposal will ask for the restoration of the equalization property tax with the money used to backfill some of the cuts to K-12, DES and DHS.

Observers wonder whether the GOP is now negotiating in good faith with the minority or are they hoping the governor will understand that shopping at the Dem Store will be too expensive and that she is better off dropping the sales tax referral. Garcia is aware of this possibility. He told our reporter this afternoon he believes Burns is engaging in talks with the whole minority caucus only because of the governor. He added that he thinks Adams is much less convinced that negotiating with the entire Dem caucus is a good idea. In any case, many believe Burns has not totally given up on the hope of buying one Dem: Hale and Miranda are mentioned most often as likely targets.

To read more on this item plus all the stories in the Aug. 25 Yellow Sheet Report, go to www.yellowsheetreport.com (Yellow Sheet Subscription Required).

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