This past Tuesday marked the 100th day of the legislative session. At the onset of session, leadership in both the House and the Senate vocally expressed their desire to accomplish another 100-day session as they had last year. This task proved to be unattainable as session dragged out longer than anticipated as a result of continued disagreements between the legislature and the governor’s office pertaining to revenue numbers in the budget.
Rather, on the 100th day of session, the governor informed both Speaker of the House Andy Tobin and Senate President Steve Pierce that she would veto any bills that land on her desk before a budget is completed. As a result of this warning, both have refrained from sending any bills to the governor for the time being.
In February, the legislature introduced a budget package that set aside nearly $500 million to use in 2014 when the temporary one-cent sales tax expires and the state is forced to increase public health care costs as a result of the federal health care reform law. Though both the Senate and House appropriation committees approved their budget package early in session, the bills have yet to move to the floor in either chamber.
The governor’s budget, which she released in January, calls for an increase in education spending as well as an increase in some social programs. According to the governor’s spokesman, Matthew Benson, she continues to stand behind her budget and is not willing to sign any budget “that short-changes Arizona’s ability to compete in the future or breaks her oath with voters on Prop. 100.”
With very little legislation that still needs to be final approved and the impending election season, it is the general consensus amongst legislators seeking re-election that they would like to adjourn in the near future to begin their campaign efforts. Though the 100th day has come and gone, there is a general sense that progress is being made, albeit slowly, to close the gap between the governor’s budget and that of the legislature.
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