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State Budget Finally Approved

By Howard Fischer

Phoenix, AZ – State lawmakers gave final approval Thursday to a new budget for the fiscal year that begins on Tuesday. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer explains some of what it contains.

The package contains about $348 million in spending cuts to deal
with the fact that tax collections are far below expectations.
But the major way the state is making up a $2.2 billion gap is by
borrowing close to $1 billion and shifting around hundreds of
millions in other funds. Gov. Janet Napolitano called that a
responsible way of keeping state services coming. But most
Republicans did not agree. One thing that particular upset some
of them was a provision to let universities borrow another $1
billion, with repayment linked to convincing Arizonans to buy
more lottery tickets. Rep. Steve Yarbrough said that essentially
is a regressive tax.

(It is the worst form of tax that we could possibly use. It harms
the poor and the unwise. And it's a very, very sad day that, once
again, those who tell us repeatedly how much they care about
these groups of people would be supporting a budget based on such
unconscionable conduct.)

On paper the budget for next year is $9.9 billion. But that's not
entirely accurate. The plan uses tactics that essentially take
some spending off the books.

For Arizona Public Radio, this is
Howard Fischer.