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Next year's state budget won't come soon

By Howard Fischer

Phoenix, AZ – Don't expect any quick action by state lawmakers to adopt a new
budget for the coming year.

The issue, quite simply, is lack of information about how much
money Arizona is going to get in the federal stimulus package.
There are some significant differences that have to be ironed out
between versions approved by the U.S. House and Senate.

lawmakers already took a leap of faith and presumed Arizona will
get $500 million for the current budget year. But they're not
ready to decide how much of next year's $2.4 billion deficit can
be plugged with funds from Washington. Senate Majority Whip Pam
Gorman said even knowing the amount of aid Arizona will get is
not enough

(There seems to be more strings attached to this money, more and
more each day. And the more that's attached to it, the more
difficult it is for us to plan. It's a very fluid situation. We
don't know exactly what's going to come down with it. We do know
enough, though, to realize that we can't 100 percent move forward
until they figure out what they're doing.)

One condition says states get more cash only if they spend as
much now on education as they did in 2006. With $133 million
already slashed in K-12 funds this year and further cuts possible
next year, whether Arizona gets any cash could depend on what
federal officials include or exclude from that computation.