Brewer signs budget approved by Legislature
Published: May 8, 2012 at 7:08 am
The budget’s spending totals just under $8.6 billion for the 2012-2013 fiscal year starting July 1.
That’s about $50 million more than in the current fiscal year, and the small increase represents a significant departure from recent years in which lawmakers made significant cuts to services in order to balance budgets in the face of huge revenue losses due to the recession and the housing collapse.
Lawmakers approved the 10-bill package last week following months of closed-door negotiations between the Republican governor and the Republican-led Legislature. It was unveiled in late April just prior to legislative action.
Key elements in the budget include socking away $450 million into the state’s rainy day fund, which had been drained to help balance previous budgets. Legislators wanted that to prepare for future budget trouble.
Approved new or restored spending sought by Brewer includes $39 million for services for the seriously mentally ill and $50 million over two years to add 500 new maximum-security prison beds.
The budget also includes $80 million over four years to replace the state’s aging accounting computer system and $40 million for elementary school reading instruction.
Brewer said the “conservative and comprehensive budget plan … adds real resources to our state’s most critical programs, while setting aside dollars for the fiscal challenges that lay ahead.”
Senate Minority Leader David Schapira, D-Tempe, said the budget “reveals the true colors” of Brewer and Republican legislators because they failed to reverse previous spending cuts for school equipment and for health care for children.
“Republicans even chose to steal money meant to help families facing foreclosure,” Schapira said, referring to a budget provision that took $50 million from a $97 million settlement with major mortgage lenders.