A special legislative session to address the continuing budget crisis will begin Thursday morning, but the votes to approve a package of bills that include a temporary sales tax increase don’t appear to be in line.
Legislative Republicans and Democrats haven’t agreed on much this year, but both are puzzled by Gov. Jan Brewer’s proclamation earlier today that the two parties have set aside their differences and hashed out a deal that would allow a sales-tax increase she favors to be sent to the ballot in March.
“(The) House does not have the votes at this time (and) nothing has changed since yesterday when we told (Brewer) the same thing. We continue to talk to members,” House Speaker Kirk Adams told Arizona Capitol Times.
“I don’t know why she is saying that. We’ve been very upfront and clear about it. As of now, we do not have the votes.”
Earlier today, media outlets reported Brewer was saying she had been assured by Adams and Senate President Bob Burns that they have secured the necessary Democratic votes to send the temporary one-cent sales tax hike to the ballot.
But that came as news to Democratic leaders.
“She hasn’t asked for a single (vote). We haven’t gotten a call,” said House Assistant Minority Leader Kyrsten Sinema. “She hasn’t talked to anybody.”
She added that neither Brewer nor GOP leaders have agreed to negotiate terms for a bipartisan agreement.
The special session will be the fifth of the year, and the fourth to deal with budget problems. The Arizona Constitution limits what lawmakers can do in a special session to only those thing the governor identifies in the call.
The call issued today includes: adjustments to the current year’s budget; a ballot referral to let voters decide the fate of a temporary sales tax increase; and a ballot referral to temporarily suspend a constitutional provision that prevents lawmakers from cutting voter-approved spending.