With a potential government shutdown looming on the horizon, State House Speaker Ben Toma (R-Peoria) and Senate President Warren Petersen (R-Mesa) sent a letter to Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) Tuesday requesting a meeting to discuss ways to compromise on the state budget.
“In our first and only meeting to discuss the budget, your office stated it was unwilling to receive feedback or take questions. Obviously, we need some level of agreement to pass a budget. We believe we can achieve most of our priorities and including yours that are reasonable,” the legislators wrote in their joint letter.
As reported by The Arizona Sun Times, State Senate Republicans passed a “skinny budget” through both the House and Senate. The budget would have allocated similar funding as outlined in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget passed during the previous legislative session, with some slight differences and adjustments for inflation. A new spending plan is needed for the state by July 1st, or a shutdown could ensue.
However, Hobbs (Picture above, left) vetoed this budget, claiming it was “one-sided” and did not address “the real issues” Arizonans face. In their letter, Toma (Pictured above, right) and Petersen (Pictured above, middle) wrote that this budget would have been responsible and guaranteed to avoid a government shutdown.
“The Legislative Budget you vetoed on February 16™ represented shared, ongoing funding priorities. That budget would have prevented a government shutdown, while leaving the available one-time funds untouched for executive and legislative negotiation of priorities. Our budget was the responsible approach to governing in a time of economic uncertainty,” wrote the legislators.
Nonetheless, with the budget vetoed, both parties will need to work out an agreement. The leaders shared that some members of the legislature support Hobbs’s plan to give additional funding to school facilities buildings, the Division of Developmental Disabilities, and potential transportation projects. However, many legislators have stated some of Hobbs’s budget priorities are non-starters, such as her desire to repeal Arizona’s universal Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) expansion and end the Department of Public Safety’s Border Strike Force.
Nevertheless, in a recent press conference, Hobbs said she had already invited the legislators to meet and discuss how the budget can move forward and is already willing to hold this meeting. Additionally, she did say she was ready to compromise on some areas of the budget but would not specify what those areas are.
Kim Quintero, the spokesperson for the State Senate Majority Caucus, told The Sun Times that is not yet a date set for this meeting to occur.
Furthermore, the letter from Toma and Petersen outlined some concerns they had with the apparent “contradictory messaging” coming from Hobbs’s office recently. As reported by The Sun Times, Hobbs announced a financial commitment to flip the state legislature out of Republican control. She also asked for the public to donate to this “Flip the Leg Fund.” A report from the Arizona Republic stated that Hobbs’s new fund could provide Republicans with a “disincentive to work with her.”
However, the legislators shared that the day after Hobbs announced this fund targeting Republicans, they received her office’s invitation to cooperate on the budget.
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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 “Katie Hobbs” by Katie Hobbs. Photo “Warren Petersen” by Warren Petersen.Background Photo “Arizona Capitol” by Marine 69-71. CC BY-3.0.