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State Capitol News

Legislature to cut education funding

By Howard Fischer

Phoenix, AZ – State lawmakers will meet later this month to cut state aid to
education -- but not to give voters a chance to hike their own
taxes to help balance the budget.

The deal hammered out between Gov. Jan Brewer and Republican
legislative leaders would cut about $144 million in K-12 funding.
But there still are not the votes to put a measure on the ballot
for a temporary hike in the state sales tax, a part of the
budget-balancing plan Brewer continues to insist is necessary.

"So we have no other choice but to go in and do further cuts as
the revenues continued to decline, and carrying forward a
deficit, we've got to go in and do more cutting. However, I still
am a proponent, and believe that the only way we're going to get
the state turned around is to get additional revenue on top of
more cuts."

The inability to reach a deal on that tax hike means the earliest
the proposal could go to voters would be March. And that means
the state could pick up only about $240 million during the
balance of the fiscal year -- assuming voters pass it -- not
doing much to plug a $2 billion deficit. But House Speaker Kirk
Adams said the tax hike proposal still has merit.

"Revenue increases in any significant way will have minimal
impact on fiscal year 10. The primary impact would be fiscal year
11, which is the budget we begin working on simultaneously. With
the current deficit it's deja vu all over again, right?"

No date has been set for the session.