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Lawmakers from both parties criticize Brewer’s budget action

The governor’s actions on the state budget drew jeers from both Republicans and Democrats, but for wildly different reasons.

House Speaker Kirk Adams and Senate President Bob Burns, both Republicans, said Gov. Jan Brewer increased state spending by more than $350 million with her line-item-vetoes of cuts to K-12 education and the Department of Economic Security, which provides benefits for Arizona’s poor.

“The (budget) problems are not resolved,” Adams said.

Minority party leaders, meanwhile, blasted Brewer for calling them “extremists” while at the same time effectively implementing the last budget offer Democrats had made with her vetoes.

“Since she took action today that was basically our proposal, we don’t understand how she could stand up and attack us. We’re confused,” said House Assistant Minority Leader Kyrsten Sinema.

Republicans also were critical of her decision to veto S1025. The bill contained a provision that would have permanently repealed a statewide property tax. The tax has been suspended for three years, but will now come back on the books.

It came of little surprise that the governor rejected the property tax repeal legislation, as it is one of the few pieces of leverage she has over Republican lawmakers in her quest to call a special election for a temporary sales tax increase.

GOP legislators have resisted her demand for the 1-cent sales tax increase, though all but a few eventually supported it after large income tax cuts were added to the bill. However, those few holdouts prevented the Senate from passing the legislation and killed the referral.

Brewer placed the blame on “extremist” Republicans and Democrats who opposed letting voters weigh in on a tax increase, but Adams said the responsibility was shared among all parties.

“We all fell short in terms of the tax package, and that’s unfortunate,” he said.

Adams said the vetoes were “unnecessary,” especially considering the provisions she rejected were part of a negotiated budget. But he stopped short of saying she broke a deal, distancing himself from comments he made in July when Brewer vetoed the original budget after it, too, was delivered without a sales tax component.

Democratic legislative leaders also took aim at their Republican counterparts, saying it was their fault a compromise couldn’t be reached.

“(The governor) needs to look to her own Republican colleagues in the Legislature, because that’s where the blockage is occurring,” said House Minority Leader David Lujan.

Burns denied that, telling reporters he and other Republicans “made considerable concessions” in the negotiations. However, he wouldn’t provide details, citing the confidential nature of the talks.

That didn’t stop Democrats, though, who released the details of their final proposal in the bipartisan talks. They were asking for a restoration of about $295 million in spending cuts, including $140 million for education, and the reinstatement of $325 million in revenue. That would have included $250 million from the property tax and $75 million in excess revenue from vehicle registrations they wanted to redirect to the general fund.

-Reporter Luige del Puerto contributed to this story.

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