Republican budget

With the state only 10 days away from the end of the fiscal year, Republican leaders on Monday released a proposal for a state budget they hope will garner bipartisan support and avert a government shutdown.

Lawmakers are set to meet first thing Tuesday morning to consider the bills in committee. If they win approval there, the next stop will be consideration by the full House and Senate — assuming the budget has the votes to pass.

The $15 billion spending plan increases spending for K-12 education by about $570 million, funds pay raises for all state government employees and commits to a host of transportation projects. It also accounts for $350 million in a separate bill to fund border security, including money to build a border fence.

One thing the budget wouldn’t do is spend all of the roughly $5.3 billion in surplus cash: Nearly $1.1 billion would be left over, including more than $615 million in ongoing revenue.

It also includes a number of provisions that seem aimed at winning Democratic votes, including rural highway improvements and allowing new money for school safety to be spent on counselors and social workers instead of only on police officers. And that may be needed, as at least one Republican senator has declared that she won’t vote for the budget.

Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, a Scottsdale Republican, said she wouldn’t support increasing state spending.

“I can’t think of anything more fiscally irresponsible than spending recklessly on member pet projects while Arizonans struggle to keep up with crushing inflation,” she wrote on Twitter.

In a follow-up tweet, she compared the budget to the Build Back Better Act that President Joe Biden failed to push through Congress, labeling it the “Build Back Broke” budget. 

“You cannot spend your way out of a looming recession,” Ugenti-Rita wrote.

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