Lawmakers lament 'painful' budget - Tucson Local Media: Pima Pinal

Lawmakers lament 'painful' budget

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Posted: Tuesday, July 22, 2008 11:00 pm

A budget crafted by the Arizona Legislature was painful and is imperfect, two Northwest legislators told a Marana Chamber of Commerce lunch crowd, but it “kept a vision for the future of Arizona,” according to Rep. Pete Hershberger.

Rep. Jennifer Burns mentioned “a bipartisan compromise that avoided a shutdown of government. It’s not perfect. … We did a painful budget, but we still invested in the future.”

Hershberger said the Legislature used “funding gimmicks and cuts” to erase a $1 billion deficit in the 2008 budget, and a $2 billion deficit for 2009.

“We didn’t cut services to the bone, and we didn’t raise taxes,” Hershberger said last Thursday. “We may need to cut again,” and he anticipates “across the board” cuts if the Legislature must reconvene in special session.

Burns, who is leaving office at the end of this term, was frustrated by a Republican caucus and a Democratic governor at odds.

“With a Democratic governor, you’ve got to work on something that’s got to be there for both.”

Burns thinks the business community should be “asking our legislators to be realistic.”

The Marana High School and University of Arizona alumna said adjustments in Arizona’s employer sanctions law brought “clarity to the business community. We have challenges here, though, with no guest worker bill.” Uncertain guest worker status is leaving building “pads without framers,” and creating a labor void that may “jeopardize and hinder” Arizona business, she said.

 Hershberger believes “chances are good” that a bill to help bolster spring training baseball in Southern Arizona could be a subject for a special session of the Legislature.

Burns considers it a plus that the Legislature “invested in the universities.” Hershberger was pleased Science Foundation Arizona was funded for this year.

“We need a vision to diversify our economy,” Hershberger said. “We rely a great deal on our University of Arizona, more so than Phoenix” does upon Arizona State University.

Marana, he said, is “uniquely poised in Southern Arizona to capture the growth and excitement we have.”

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