Senate Republicans introduce budget bills

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The Senate completed the first step toward passing a budget on Monday, while the House of Representatives had a snag.

Republican leaders in the Senate on Monday introduced budget bills that would continue funding state agencies for the next fiscal year but would add no new money.

This is a far cry from the $17.1 billion budget proposal that Gov. Katie Hobbs presented on Jan. 13. Republican lawmakers labeled elements of Hobbs’ proposal non-starters.

Now it seems the Republican leadership is making its own move for a budget that does nothing for Hobbs and her associates.

“The governor has made it very clear that her door is open to anyone who wants to work to find solutions for the people of Arizona, and a continuation budget doesn’t work for the people of Arizona,” Bones said Jan. 13.

The Republican budget is a continuation of fiscal 2023 funding with a handful of smaller ones changes.

Hobbs can’t veto the entire sequel budget once it lands on her desk. Her spokeswoman Josselyn Berry said Monday Hobbs will “use all the tools at her disposal, including vetoing line items if necessary.”

The Republican leadership argues that in a long session with a divided government, the legislature and governor could take many months to work on their bills and would not come to a finished budget for some time. They say passing a continuation budget now ensures the government won’t shut down later and frees state agencies from the fear of waiting to see if they will have funds.

Democrats say if Republicans get their continuation budget now, they have no reason to work with Democrats on anything else for the rest of the session.

The bills were read Monday afternoon during a recess in the Senate committee hearings. Only a handful of members attended the first reading, and none of the Democrats were present.

The House attempted to read the Spiegel household’s bills on Monday afternoon but was held up by technical difficulties and the absence of one of the members.

House Majority Leader Leo Biasiucci, R-Lake Havasu City, tabled a motion to suspend a House rule barring Representatives from being the primary sponsor of more than seven bills introduced after the fourth day of session to ban Rep. David Livingston, R-Peoria, to sponsor budget-related actions.

None of House members’ microphones worked on the floor, forcing members to either shout or approach the lectern to speak into the only working microphones on Monday.

Democrats requested a roll-call vote, and Biasiucci subsequently withdrew his request. House Speaker Pro Tempore Travis Grantham, R-Gilbert, told members that the House of Representatives did not have the technical capacity to conduct the vote and have members explain their vote.

“We can either try to do that or we can have him withdraw and we’re not going to deal with that today,” Grantham said.

Rep. Beverly Pingerelli, R-Peoria, was also absent Monday. Her absence reduced the narrow, one-member Republican majority in the House of Representatives, leaving her without enough votes to suspend rule against a unified Democratic faction. No other members of the House of Representatives filed budget bills as of Monday night.

The Senate has scheduled an Appropriations Committee meeting for Tuesday morning to hear budget bills.

Senate Speaker Calli Jones said the dispute between Republicans and Democrats over the bill will likely take place at tomorrow’s budget session.

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