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Senate fumbles, fails to pass two budget measures   

The Legislature passed 13 of the measures aimed at solving the state’s deficit in fiscal years 2010 and 2011, but Senate Republican leaders failed to muster the votes for the two remaining measures that would save the state about $350 million.

The Senate skipped the vote on HCR1001, which would ask voters in November to repeal First Things First and give its money to the state to be used for children’s services. Senators also avoided voting on H2013, which would repeal a tax credit for businesses.

H2013 is subject to the requirements of Prop 108, which requires a two-thirds vote for any act that results in a “net increase” in state revenues. It was expected to increase state revenue by $20 million in fiscal 2011.

Given the 18-12 partisan split in the Senate, Republicans leaders would need two Democrats to vote for the measure. 
 
Meanwhile, eliminating First Things First would mean the organization would have to give the state about $325 million it received from taxes on tobacco.

In short, the state is still $345 million short of balancing the budget for fiscal year 2011 even with the passage of most of the budget bills on March 11.

Senate President Bob Burns said his chamber will tackle HCR2001 on Monday.

“We were one member short (for HCR2001),” Burns said, referring to Sen. Carolyn Allen, who was absent while the Senate was voting on the budget measures.

When the voting started, the Senate began third reading bills in almost staccato fashion, swiftly passing one after another.

As expected, senators voted mostly along partisan lines, with Democrats in opposition and Republicans in support. The speeches were far and few in between.

Senate Minority Leader Jorge Garcia said it is the governor’s budget, and he is sad to say that the Senate has failed to make it better.

Sen. Thayer Verschoor once again spoke against a provision in the contingency budget plan to cut assistance to charter schools by $31 million. But he has voted “yes” on the budget bills so far. 

Sen. John Huppenthal, a Republican from Chandler, voted “no” on H2001. He did not explain his opposition.

The House passed all 15 measures earlier in the evening. See story at http://azcapitoltimes.com/blog/2010/03/11/day-4-tracking-the-special-session-2/

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