Wednesday, May 15, 2013

AZ Legislature: Budget Showdown Set for Thursday

Posted By on Wed, May 15, 2013 at 7:40 PM

The 10 budget bills barreled through the Senate Appropriations Committee Wednesday, paving the way for a lengthy Senate floor debate on Thursday. Many of the bills saw a 3-6 party line vote, with Democrats complaining about the scant amount of time they had to review the GOP's $8.8 billion plan.

Anna Tovar, D-Tolleson, said she thinks the budget falls short in terms of Child Protective Services and K-12 funding. Tovar remarked that it would have been easy to resolve these issues had the budget process not been done behind closed doors.

While Gov. Jan Brewer's Medicaid expansion isn't in any of the budget bills it will likely get tacked on during Thursday's floor session.

Senate President Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, who has been a staunch opponent of Medicaid, is only sponsoring eight of the 10 bills. Sen. John McComish, R-Phoenix, is sponsoring the other two, so it's likely he'll be the source of the Medicaid expansion amendment.

It appears that senators will be spared having to debate the budget and election reform on the same day.

The elections omnibus that moved through Appropriations today didn't go on to the Rules Committee with the rest of the bills. Democrats were agitated about the timing of the omnibus and the budget, with Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix going as far to tweet, "Sen. President Biggs is trying to kill Medicaid Expansion with election bills."

Sen. Steve Farley wrote on his blog that he doesn't think the omnibus will ever see the Senate floor.

The omnibus includes ideas from several stalled bills by Scottsdale Republicans Sen. Michele Reagan and Rep. Michelle Ugenti.

The two are rumored to be embroiled in a feud over Reagan endorsing Ugenti's opponent and it's unclear if that is a factor in the general weirdness surrounding the elections bills.

On the day the elections omnibus went through Appropriations, the House canceled a Committee of the Whole that included three Reagan-supported election bills.

House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix, said Democrats had several amendments at the ready and were surprised by the switch in plans.

As far as whether or not the move had anything to do with the Scottsdale spat, Campbell said he doesn't know, but it could be as simple as that.

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