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Arizona Senate gives initial OK to new immigration bills

The Arizona Senate will act Wednesday on a proposed state budget although majority Republicans don’t have a negotiated agreement with Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, Senate President Russell Pearce said Monday.

Republican senators are “restless and impatient” to approve a budget, the Mesa Republican said. And Senate action could take place all on one day, he said.

Doing so that quickly would require suspending numerous procedural rules intended to provide notice to lawmakers and the public.

“At this point we’ll move it out Wednesday,” Pearce said. “Our members are wanting to move a budget out. They’re fully informed. They know what has to be done.

Details of Senate Republicans’ budget plan to close the projected $1 billion shortfall in the 2011-2012 fiscal year’s budget were not available late Monday. However, GOP lawmakers have said they wanted to cut more spending in education, social services and other programs than the $1 billion Brewer proposed.

Republican legislators say deeper spending cuts would allow the state to avoid or reduce borrowing and other budget-balancing maneuvers proposed by the governor.

“We’re going to move a balanced budget with no games, no gimmicks, no borrowing,” Pearce said. “We’re just going to put out a honest budget and fix the problem.”

Brewer, who last week publicly said she’d defend education funding, has called her January budget proposal a balanced approach that protects essential services while moving the state toward a fiscal recovery.

Brewer spokesman Matt Benson had no immediate comment when asked whether Brewer regarded the Senate’s intentions as helpful.

“We’ve proposed a budget and we’re sticking with it at this point,” he said. “Certainly … there are negotiations.”

Pearce said the Republican-led House was in sync with the Senate, but House Majority Leader Andy Tobin poured cold water on the prospect of House action on a budget this week.

Tobin said House leaders continued working toward an agreement with the Senate and Brewer.

While Brewer’s proposed budget is a “good baseline,” rank-and-file Republican lawmakers are leery of its borrowing provisions and want to find an alternative, Tobin said. “It’s going to take some time.”

Senate Minority Leader David Schapira, D-Tempe, said unilateral action by the Senate to approve a budget that isn’t a negotiated agreement with Brewer and the House sets the stage for a stalemate.

“I think that we’re a long way from having a budget done at the State Capitol,” he said.
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