by Jim Nintzel
The Arizona Legislature and Gov. Janet Napolitano managed to put together a budget plan to resolve the current fiscal year's $1.2 billion shortfall, which takes care of the immediate problem of the state running out of money before the fiscal year concludes on June 30. Howie Fischer of Capitol Media Services has details.
Big surprise: Universities have to cut more than $14 million out of their spending in the next 10 weeks.
Sandy Bahr of the Sierra Club has the run-down on some of the environmental hits; she notes: "You will be happy to know that they protected the abstinence-only program while sweeping dollars for clean air."
But the budget deal solves less than half the problem. As Howie points out, the upcoming fiscal year has an even bigger shortfall--estimates run in the $2 billion neighborhood--and lawmakers plucked all the low-hanging fruit to perform this year's balancing act. That means, ultimately, that lawmakers and the governor will have to craft a big combo of borrowing to build schools and cuts to government programs, which will be the center of the conversation between now and the end of the session.
We're told that members of House Appropriations Committee aren't happy that they were bypassed in the negotiations, but there's a simple reason for that: Rep. Russell Pearce, chair of approps, is so difficult to negotiate with that leadership has pretty much recognized that there's no point in including him in the conversation. So instead they just ignored him and his committee.