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House, Senate propose increases to their budgets

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If state lawmakers get their way, Arizonans will be spending an extra $6.2 million a year to support the folks who make our laws.

And the people who support them.

That’s on top of the $23.5 million cost to operate the House and Senate.

Senate President Karen Fann, R-Prescott, said she can justify the 38 percent increase in her own chamber’s budget.

“We are losing employees every year to the House and other departments because they are literally wooing them away because we have no money for raises,” she said. Fann said many of the staffers who work for individual senators have not seen a pay hike in years.

Fann also said there is a need for additional staff to help lawmakers analyze bills. And she said that’s not just the majority Republicans, saying that the last staffer she had cash to hire went to the Democrats.

And what of the $2.5 million that the House wants?

That’s a different story. In essence, it comes down to a “me, too” move.

Matt Specht, spokesman for House Speaker Rusty Bowers, said the cash was added to the House budget “in order to maintain some parity with the additional resources requested by the Senate.”

But Specht said his chamber actually does have some uses for the extra dollars.

“The funding will allow the House to continue to make capital improvements, such as the accessibility improvements started late last year, or address other needs,” he said.

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