State Senator T.J. Shope Says Legislature will ‘Hold the Line’ on Hobbs’s Proposed Budget

Following the unveiling of Gov. Katie Hobbs’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 Executive Budget, State Sen. T.J. Shope (R-Florance) stated it was a budget he, and his GOP colleagues in the state Legislature, would not support.

“My colleagues in the Senate GOP will not support this budget and its declaration of war on parents. We will not support taxpayer funded scholarship programs for non-citizens. We will not support a repeal of the Border Strike Force at a time when the scourge of fentanyl plagues our people,” Shope tweeted. “We are united and we will hold the line for the Arizona we love.”

Additionally, he said that Legislators were presented with this budget proposal in a venue where they were not allowed to ask any questions.

As reported by The Arizona Sun Times, Hobbs unveiled her budget Friday which included $17.1 billion in spending. While Hobbs acknowledged that Arizona’s economy and job market are in a good position, some of her proposals will be hard to get past Republicans. For starters, she proposed repealing the Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) Expansion, which was a significant victory for school choice and the Republican Legislature in 2022. She said doing so would potentially save taxpayers $1.5 billion over the next ten years. Moreover, she also proposed ending the Department of Public Safety’s (DPS) Border Strike Force, which former Gov. Ducey created. These funds would instead be rolled back into the DPS budget or given to local governments for police efforts.

Additionally, the proposal would take $200,000 from a program for homeless pregnant women and give it to the Department of Health Services’ budget for “pregnancy services that are inclusive of all options and support personal choice.”

In response to the proposal, State Senate President Warren Petersen (R-Gilbert) said this budget would be dead on arrival and that it would be Republican Legislators introducing a budget to help the state.

“I look forward to sending our planned budget up with my colleagues that will not Calif. our AZ. Years of good policy have made us a top destination. We aren’t departing from our success and prosperity,” tweeted Petersen.

Furthermore, GOP members of the State House appear just as unenthused with Hobbs’s budget as their Senate counterparts. State Rep. Tim Dunn (R-Yuma) specifically called out Hobbs’s proposal to end the strike force a bad idea, especially as the state deals with an overflow of fentanyl.

“Governor Hobbs budget threatens your family. We should be adding to Az border strike force not taking money away. Az has the legal right and responsibility to work in partnership to stop the drug flow while our CBP agents are tied up with illegal immigrants,” Dunn said.

Outside state offices, the campaign for Republican Kari Lake has also spoken against the budget, urging the Republican Legation to hold firm against this proposal.

As reported by The Sun Times, the Legislature has already spoken about its own budget proposals. Both House and Senate Republicans, said they are working on a continuation budget that would further fund the state services outlined in the FY2023 state budget. However, a spokesperson for Hobbs said she does not see this continuation as a good plan.

While both Hobbs and Republican Legislators have spoken about working together over the past weeks, it appears deciding the next state budget will be a difficult task.

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Neil Jones is a reporter for The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Neil on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “T.J. Shope” by T.J. Shope. Photo “Katie Hobbs” by Governor Katie Hobbs. Background Photo “Arizona State Capitol” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.


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