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Brewer hails passage of cuts, says it’s a good day

Gov. Jan Brewer, flanked by Senate President Bob Burns and House Speaker Kirk Adams, signed the special session bills just hours after they passed the House.

She said it was a good day and noted that the bills will eliminate about $542 million from the deficit, but said those cuts are only the first step in solving the budget crisis. Brewer will meet with legislative leadership on Monday to discuss the parameters of another special session that she hopes to have before Christmas so lawmakers can make additional cuts and find a way to bring in more revenue to the state.

“This is just the beginning. There’s going to be a lot of tough decisions that are going to have to be made. And I think that collectively, between the Legislature and myself, we will come to that solution,” Brewer said at a press conference after the bill signing ceremony. The bottom line is that we know … that we have no other alternative as to go in and make serious cuts and find another avenue of revenue.”

Brewer has spent much of the year pushing for the Legislature to put a temporary 1-cent sales tax on the ballot, and after the deadline passed for a November ballot measure, said she hoped to put it on the ballot in March, when many cities will hold municipal elections. A deal that included that ballot referral failed during a special session in August.

The governor said she was open to other revenue proposals besides the sales-tax hike, but continued to insist that the state needs additional revenue.

“The temporary sales tax was a possibility that I thought was a solution. It doesn’t have to be a temporary sales tax. It can be another manner of some shape or form to increase revenue. But we all know that we cannot continue down the path that we’ve been going. We need revenue and we need to do budget cuts,” she said.

Adams said they took a significant bite out of the deficit, but said that if there is a down note to the special session, it’s that they did not get any participation from Democratic lawmakers, none of whom voted for the bills. He dismissed previous Democratic budget proposals as vague and lacking details, and expressed hope that legislative Democrats would take a greater role in the solving the budget crisis.

“The Democrats have not brought forward a single itemized proposal of what they would do for revenues or cuts. They have the same access to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee as any Republican does,” Adams said. “We would like to see a true Democratic proposal for revenue and for how they would address the spending issues. To date, over 11 months into this process, we have yet to see one.”

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