State budget deal possible as early as Monday

Posted at 4:14 PM, Apr 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-24 19:14:25-04
Republican leaders of the Arizona House and Senate spent long hours in the past week behind closed doors with Gov. Doug Ducey's representatives hashing out details of a budget deal that could be revealed as early as Monday.
House Speaker David Gowan and Senate President Andy Biggs and their appropriations chairs met every day last week as they sought to iron out differences between the chambers and the governor.
Many House and Senate Republicans are hoping an acceptable deal can get the needed 31 and 16 votes to make its way to Ducey by the end of the week.
But there's a considerable number of majority Republicans in the House who say they will resist a rushed deal after feeling burned by last year's quick budget passage.
One of those is Chandler Rep. Jeff Weninger. He said late last week he's holding out until he reads and understands the entire package and sees that it meets the needs of residents he represents.
"There's some key issues that I think need addressed that my constituents are concerned about," Weninger said. "And those will have to be addressed. And I'm going to hold out until I am fully briefed and fully read everything in the budget."
Weninger's position is shared by a broad group of House Republicans -- minority Democrats are essentially left out of budget negotiations -- because they went along with their leaders last year and signed off on a tight budget package that cut spending on universities, kept K-12 funding essentially flat and included tax cuts. But a month after the March 2015 passage of that package and the Legislature's adjournment, news emerged that the state's revenues had surged.
Ducey this year is also proposing a relatively tight budget package. The $9.5 billion spending plan in January mainly leaves in place much of a nearly $500 million budget surplus.
House Republicans want to add to Ducey's spending proposals on universities, K-12 education and county local roadbuilding efforts, and many also want to restore a health care program for low-income children known as KidsCare. Whether all those items make it into the agreed-upon budget is yet to be seen.
Biggs and Gowan both said last week that they were continuing to meet and were making progress on an agreement.
Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, said Friday that if a deal can be worked out by Monday "it's quite possible to have the budget done by the end of the week."
But, he noted, there are "concerns that the House may have added on things for their members that might not fly in the Senate."