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State Capitol News

Lawmakers approve education spending

By Howard Fischer

Phoenix, AZ – State lawmakers approved increased spending on education on
Monday. But that's only part of adopting a balanced budget.

Gov. Jan Brewer had used her line-item veto last week to zero out
the K-12 budget approved by Republicans, saying she hoped to
force them to adopt a funding plan more to her liking. The gambit
worked. Lawmakers adopted a new spending plan with nearly $500
million more than the one they sent to the governor. But
legislaotrs have yet to deal with the governor's other vetoes. So
for the moment, the state budget is $2 billion in the red. Senate
President Bob Burns said lawmakers need to ask voters if they're
willing to bridge at least part of the gap with higher sales

(If they pass it, there's some additional money to spend. I don't
believe it's enough. I don't think it solves the problem. I think
there's still significant reductions that will have to be made.
If the voters turn it down, then I think that sends a clear
message that it's time for us to get our budget in balance
without counting on revenue.)

But some Republicans, like Sen. John Huppenthal, said their vote
for putting the sales tax hike on the ballot is conditional on
getting something in return.

(If we are going to incur the economic damage of a sales tax
increase, what major significant reform do we do to offset that?)

One option would be to replace the graduated individual income
tax system with a single flat-rate tax, a Republican favorite.