Last week marked the conclusion of the 50th Second Regular Legislative Session. This year, 1,395 bills were introduced; of that, 387 won approval in both chambers. To date, 321 bills have been signed into law, 19 have been vetoed and 47 are awaiting action by the governor. The governor has until May 15th to either sign a bill, let the bill go into law without her signature or veto the bill. The general effective date for all legislation, unless specifically established within the bill, is August 2, 2012.
After months of negotiations between the governor and the Republican-led legislature, a budget deal was reached in late April. This past Monday, Governor Jan Brewer signed into law the 10-bill budget package. The approved budget spends just under $8.6 billion for fiscal year 2012-2013, which begins on July 1. The approved budget increases spending by about $50 million over the current fiscal year’s budget, a departure from past budget years that featured significant cuts to services. For many, this budget increase signals that the state’s finances are improving.
In the months leading up to a budget deal, the governor’s revenue projections were consistently higher than those of the legislature. The governor, however, agreed to the legislature’s more modest estimates in return for the fulfillment of some of her spending initiatives in education, public safety and prisons. In addition to the governor’s requests, the Republican legislators pushed hard to set aside dollars for anticipated future fiscal shortfalls. This was accomplished by putting $450 million into the state’s “rainy day fund,” which is expected to be withdrawn to balance the budget in fiscal years 2014 and 2015.
Specifically as it relates to the real estate industry, the budget granted the Arizona Department of Real Estate commissioner the authority to start charging fees for real estate schools, instructors and courses. Though this authority was granted within the signed budget, the fees will not take effect immediately. The commissioner must create a rule package, which will go through the formal rule-making process and be reviewed by the Governor’s Regulatory Review Council (GRRC). GRRC determines whether a rule is clear, concise and understandable; legal; consistent with legislative intent; within the agency’s authority; and whether the benefits of a rule outweigh the costs. In the event that a rule does not meet those criteria, GRRC returns the rule package to the agency for further consideration.
Other notable Fiscal Year 2013 budget details are as follow:
·$30 million to end an accounting gimmick employed in 2009 to help close that year’s budget deficit
·$40 million for reading intervention
·$42 million to the Department of Economic Security as backfill for lost federal dollars
·$12 million in Medicaid provider rate increases
·$3.7 million to strengthen Child Protective Services
·$300,000 for rural hospitals, which will also get $5.3 million from Proposition 202
·$1.9 million to purchase highway patrol cars
·$50 million for 500 maximum-security prison beds
Please look for additional Capitol Insiders after May 15, once the governor has taken action on all bills currently sitting on her desk.