Hobbs says budget deal is 'very close,' House set to introduce budget bills Monday
Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs and Republican lawmakers appear to be closing in on a deal to pass a state budget, and the state House of Representatives is poised to introduce a spending plan on Monday.
The budget comes as the legislative session reached its 115th day on Friday and lawmakers head towards a hard deadline of June 30, when the current year’s budget ends. If a spending plan for the upcoming year isn’t in place by then, large swaths of state government will shut down on July 1.
The budget has been a point of contention between the Republican controlled legislature and Hobbs, whose first vetoes as governor were of the Republican “skinny budget” proposal, which sought to continue last year’s budget without the one-time spending.
On Monday, the House Rules Committee is scheduled to grant GOP House Speaker Ben Toma permission for the late introduction of budget bills. Earlier Friday, Toma swore in the House’s newest member, Julie Willoughby, and briefly mentioned that the budget would be one of the main priorities of the Republican caucus in the coming weeks.
At the same time Friday, Gov. Hobbs, while speaking to the McCain Institute in Sedona, said that her administration and the Republican-led legislature were “very close” to a budget deal. Spokesman for the Arizona House Republicans, Andrew Wilder, confirmed that the budget Hobbs was referring to is the one Toma will be introducing on Monday.
Lawmakers have been battling over the budget since the very start of the session, with Republican lawmakers early on stating that they’d only negotiate with Hobbs on state spending after the “skinny budget” was passed. The effort all but guaranteed a stalemate because there would be no incentive for GOP legislators to agree to spending any of the state’s nearly $2 billion in surplus cash.
Despite that, the “skinny budget” was passed by lawmakers and sent to Hobbs who vetoed it and negotiations began on the budget again during the breaks while lawmakers waited for the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to make appointments to the vacancies left by resignations and expulsions.
Legislative Democrats said that budget negotiations are ongoing.
“We recognize the Republicans desired timeline and their complete control over agendas,” Senate Democrats spokesperson Calli Jones said to the Arizona Mirror. “However, Senate Democrats are continuing to advocate for our priorities for all of Arizona and look forward to a long weekend of work.”
The Senate is still missing one member as Raquel Terán’s seat is vacant due to her resigning to pursue a seat in Congress. Republicans hold a one-seat majority in both legislative chambers.
This report was first published by the Arizona Mirror.