PHOENIX — With the election a few months away, you would think there would be added incentive for lawmakers to reach a budget deal. Call it a session and then go home to campaign. But if you thought that, you would be wrong.
When Governor Ducey and Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers crossed paths Thursday at an event celebrating Charter Schools on the Senate lawn, there was no rush to get back to work.
Neither chamber was in session.
For most legislators, without a budget to consider, it was another short week at work.
"The governor we know wants a lot of stuff. We agree with many of those issues that he wants. And so we'll meet again on Monday and we're going to go to work," Speaker Bowers said.
More than 100 days into the session, there are still not enough Republican votes in the House or the Senate to pass Governor Ducey's $14-billion plus budget proposal.
"This is our 8th year. We've seen this before. We're gonna get it done," the Governor said.
Since the Governor released his budget in January, an additional $5 billion in tax revenues were collected. An eye popping surplus that has Democrats and some Republicans calling for more spending.
"We know those dollars need to be invested in our schools and invested in homelessness and housing," House Minority Leader Reginald Bolding said.
The governor's budget dedicates nearly $6 billion to public education. A $323 million dollar increase over 2022 spending.
Republican State Senator Paul Boyer doesn't think it's enough. He wants an additional $900 million for K-12.
Other Republicans want to give the surplus back to taxpayers. The inability of Republicans to reach a consensus sets the state for that rarest of possibilities, Republicans negotiating with Democrats for a budget deal.
"60 votes minus 31. Leaves 29. If I lose one, I've got to find another one. So, I can do my math," Speaker Bowers said.