Arizona Republican legislative leaders and Gov. Doug Ducey have reached a budget agreement, leaders of both chambers confirmed on Sunday.
Legislative leaders plan to discuss the deal with members of the House and Senate on Monday, Senate President Karen Fann, R-Prescott, told The Arizona Republic. House Speaker Rusty Bowers,R-Mesa, confirmed the agreement and the plan for negotiations with lawmakers on Monday.
“We’re going to start tomorrow and very aggressively move forward and hopefully get this thing done,” Bowers said.
The agreement comes after a protracted legislative session that saw little action in the past month. It remains to be seen if lawmakers’ daily allowances dropping last week and the looming Memorial Day holiday weekend will serve as motivators to reach a deal. Lawmakers' daily allowances will stay at a lower rate until they adjourn.
The state’s fiscal year ends on June 30. A new budget year would start the next day.
Republicans control both chambers of the legislature and the governor’s office. In recent years, that has meant the budget includes GOP priorities while Democrats aren’t typically consulted on what gets included or left out of a budget deal.
Democrats were not a part of budget discussions over the weekend that led to the agreement.
On Sunday, Senate Democrats said in a press release that they have been meeting with Republican leaders in the Senate and Ducey's office to try to craft a "truly bipartisan budget."
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"Despite our numerous requests, we were not invited to directly negotiate in crafting a budget that reflects the values and needs of our fellow citizens," the press release said. "We remain willing to negotiate even at this late hour, although we now believe it is necessary to inform our constituents of our budget priorities."
Ducey's budget plan, unveiled in January, included additional spending on K-12 and higher education. He also wants to increase the state's rainy-day fund to $1 billion.
Leaders from both chambers, along with their staff, met with Ducey’s office over the past few days to iron out a deal, Fann said.
The result, Fann said, was what she believes is a “good bipartisan budget.”
“I’m hoping everybody likes it,” she said.
The exact details of what will appear in the negotiated budget aren’t yet clear. Fann and Bowers both would not offer specifics, saying they first needed to tell their members what the budget includes before telling the news media.
If all goes according to plan, and rank-and-file lawmakers are on board with the plan, the public could see budget details by Monday afternoon, Fann said.
Several items, including whether to conform the state’s tax laws with federal changes and how much money to put into reserves for future needs, led to budget hang-ups.
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Bowers said there are elements that would need to be in the negotiated budget in order for it to be successful with members and the governor’s office, including tax conformity and rainy-day-fund dollars.
Putting a substantial amount more money into the state’s rainy day fund was a “non-negotiable” for the governor, Fann said.
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In recent weeks, several lawmakers in the Senate said they would not vote in favor of the budget. There will be efforts to address the needs of lawmakers who have previously said they were opposed to a budget deal, Fann said.
Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, R-Scottsdale, said she would vote against the budget if it doesn’t repeal a $32 public safety fee passed last year. Sen. Paul Boyer, R-Phoenix, said he would withhold his vote unless lawmakers considered a bill that would give survivors of childhood sexual abuse more time to sue their attackers. Sen. Heather Carter, R-Cave Creek, backed up Boyer, saying she would vote no unless the issue was addressed.
A bill offered by Bowers last week sought to address the issue, but Boyer told The Republic it didn’t go far enough.
Fann said lawmakers are working on a compromise for Boyer that protects survivors but doesn’t leave the door open for potential abuses of the system. Fann also said there would be something in the budget for Ugenti-Rita, but wouldn’t say what it was.
Starting Monday morning, members of the GOP leadership teams will be briefed on the deal, Fann said. Then, members of Democratic leadership will be briefed, followed by rank-and-file members, she said.
“If all goes well and we can get everybody on board, yes, that’s the hope that we would be done by the end of the week,” she said.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.