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State Capitol News

Tensions Run High at State Budget Meeting

By Howard Fischer

Phoenix, AZ – Treasurer Dean Martin convened the meeting of the Loan Commission with the agenda of setting a maximum rate which the state is willing to pay to borrow money. Martin said that at the current rate of spending Arizona could run out of cash to pay its bills as early as next month, but more likely, in March. Martin needs permission of the majority of the three-member panel which includes Gov. Janet Napolitano and Bill Bell, her appointed head of the Department of Administration. Napolitano said she gave lawmakers a plan to balance the budget, making all this premature.

The following exchange between them ensued:
HIM: Except, governor, you don't run the treasurer's office.
HER: That's fine. At this point you don't have the relevant information.
HIM: ...last minute.
HER: We're not asking you to.
HIM: .. to negotiate a contract.
HER: We're not asking you to. But I don't know of anybody that negotiates in public. And I don't know why, at this point in time, it's anything other than a media event.
HIM: The law requires it.
HER: And you're all here, thank you very much.

The meeting finally ended in a stalemate with no vote at all. Martin said that setting a rate, which he wanted, doesn't commit to actually borrowing if lawmakers plug the gap between spending and income, but simply gets the state ready if it becomes necessary.