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Lawmakers expected to pass budget Tuesday, then tackle Brewer’s personnel agenda

The Republican-led Legislature plans to approve an $8.6 billion spending plan for the state on Tuesday, shortly after Gov. Jan Brewer and GOP leaders sealed a budget agreement last week.

They then intend to turn their attention to the governor’s proposal to overhaul the state’s personnel system, a source privy to the budget talks told the Arizona Capitol Times on condition of anonymity.

The governor wants to uncover state workers from the merit system, thereby giving supervisors more flexibility in firing and hiring them.

Her proposal is pending in the Senate.

The source anticipates only tweaks to the budget deal — not major changes. The proposal is expected to get comfortable support to pass, the source added.

Rank-and-file Republican members were briefed about the contents of the budget deal last week. They were given a few days to dig into the details of the proposal and bring back their concerns to leaders.

They will also meet this afternoon to discuss the budget for the first time in the open.

The budget deal contemplates setting aside $450 million for fiscal years 2014 and 2015, when a one-cent sales tax increase expires and the federal health care law — if it’s not struck down in court — is fully implemented.

It provides additional funding to upgrade aging infrastructure technology, reading in elementary schools, university parity, development disability programs, and new prison beds and correction officers.

It also earmarks funding to the Department of Economic Security to backfill lost federal dollars, provides money to strengthen the state’s Child Protective Service and even sets aside $1 million to help fight forest fires.

Specific details include:

$118 million to eliminate AHCCCS “rollover”

$82 million for IT investments

$30 million to end an accounting gimmick called “midnight reversion,” which was employed in 2009 to help close the budget deficit

$40 million for reading intervention

$700,000 to hire new education investigators

$15.3 million for university parity

$42 million for Department of Economic Security as backfill of lost federal dollars

$12 million in Medicaid provider rate increase

$3.7 million to strengthen child protective services

$2 million for breast cancer screenings

$300,000 for rural hospitals, which will also get $5.3 million from Proposition 202

$50 million for 500 maximum-security prison beds

$1.9 million to buy highway patrol cars

$7 million for tourism

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