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Legislature planning to adjourn sine die on Thursday

The failure to resolve differences over how to proceed with a measure that aims to stimulate the state economy through tax cuts and incentives led Republican leaders to decide to push to adjourn the legislative session on April 29.

It appears that the rationale behind the move is that if lawmakers would no longer pass the measure, they might as well as wrap up the session now. After all, most of the heavy lifting is already behind them — having already passed a state budget in March.

Senate President Bob Burns and House Speaker Kirk Adams met on April 27 to discuss Adams’ H2250, the so-called “jobs bill.”

But the two could not agree how to proceed. Senate Republicans are objecting to different portions of the bill and a Republican leader has said the measure, as written now, doesn’t have enough support to pass.

Put another way, the bill would have to be heavily amended in order to get the necessary 16 votes in the Senate to pass the bill. Democrats are already expected to oppose the measure.

“I said I don’t think I can get my members on board with all that stuff in there,” Burns said.

So Burns said they’re now aiming to wrap up the work in a little over two days.

But some push back is expected from members, who want to see their measures make it out of the Legislature before packing up and going back to their districts.

Sen. Linda Gray, a Republican from Glendale, said she won’t be amenable to adjourn sine die unless her bills, which include photo enforcement and driving under the influence legislation, have moved out of the House.

“I would rather not sine die on Thursday,” said Sen. Barbara Leff, who wants to see a bill that makes clarifying revisions to the Arizona Renewable Energy Tax Incentive Program make it out.

“It’s a very important bill. I don’t want to sine die until that bill is done,” she added.

Some, like Sen. Frank Antenori, a Republican from Tucson, want to see at least one more week of session. 

But others are amenable to ending the session in the next two days.

Sen. Thayer Verschoor, a Gilbert Republican, said he thinks there’s enough time between now and Thursday to complete their work.

Democrats are also agreeable to ending the session sooner.

Sen. Jorge Garcia, the minority leader, said some members are concerned over their bills that appear to be stuck in the House. But he said he doesn’t see those bills getting unstuck any time soon.

Regardless of lawmakers’ positions on H2250, it appears that the measure has defined this session in more ways than anticipated.

Although it now looks like the bill would never be voted on in the Senate, it has been a persistent presence in the Legislature since its introduction.

The House, which has passed the measure, made it clear that the H2250 was a priority earlier this year when members amended one of the budget bills to make its enactment conditional on the passage of the “jobs” bill.

The Senate, meanwhile, has resisted tying H2250 to the budget.

Political observers also pointed out that Gov. Jan Brewer would be in a bind if a bill containing tax cuts to corporations landed on her desk because, at the same time, she is asking people to support a tax increase. She has offered an alternative incentive program without the tax cuts, but it’s not clear whether that will move forward in the Legislature.

A Senate source said a major point of contention between Adams and Burns is over the effective dates of the tax cuts contained in the bill: Adams wants to see the tax cuts to start sooner, but Burns is concerned about how the bill would affect the state budget.

Among H2250’s provisions, for example, is to reduce the corporate income tax rate to 5 percent from 6.968 percent over five years, beginning in 2011.
The bill would cost the state an estimated $650 million in fiscal 2018, when all of its provisions would be fully implemented.

Adams seemed to have accepted his bill’s fate when he sent out this message via twitter: “No longer confident Senate will pass, nor Gov sign, jobs bill with necessary tax cuts. Working towards Sine Die this week.”

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(Photo by Luige del Puerto/Arizona Capitol Times)

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