Lawmakers face battle over rival budgets

Posted on May 03, 2007 | Type: In the News | Author: Mike Sunnucks
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State lawmakers face contentious negotiations as they try to hash out differences between competing $10.6 billion budgets from the Legislature's two chambers.

One plans comes from Republicans in the Arizona House of Representatives with a few Democrats lending support. The other is a bipartisan deal out of the State Senate cut between Gov. Janet Napolitano and other Democrats and Republican leaders, including Senate President Tim Bee.

The House plan includes more money for border security and to battle illegal immigration plus more than $60 million for business property, research and development, and corporate income tax cuts.

The Senate plan has $7 million worth of new business property tax reductions, according to budget documents.

Business and real estate industry groups say they prefer the tax component of the House plan.

"We are encouraged that the House has chosen to include these priority items in the upcoming year's budget," said Jessica Pacheco, lobbyist for the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry in a statement

Anti-tax groups, such as the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, also prefer the House package.

Spending measures in the Senate plan include:

$4 million to expand a state-run health insurance program for children.
$3 million to provide a cervical cancer vaccine to women ages 21 to 26.
$700,000 to attract foreign corporations to the state.
$100 million over the next four years for Science Foundation Arizona, which disperses grants to biotech and engineering researchers.
$25 million for a new university medical campus in downtown Phoenix spearheaded by the University of Arizona.
The House plan includes less money or no allocations in some of these areas, and liberal groups -- such as Children's Action Alliance -- fault its failure to adequately address education, health care and government services.

Some fiscal conservatives say both budget plans spend too much money, expand government bureaucracies and do not lower taxes enough, especially for families.

"Arizona's conservative majority in the House is asking taxpayers to fund a budget that is $276 million larger than what the Democratic governor asked for. It gives tens of millions of dollars in across- the-board pay increases to government employees and continues to subsidize the biotech chimera," said Noah Clarke, an economist for the Goldwater Institute.

Members of the Goldwater think tank like the Senate plan even less.

The two budgets do not include Napolitano's proposal to use debt financing to fund new school construction.

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