Hobbs vetoes the GOP’s ‘do-nothing’ budget proposal
The governor said Republicans need to negotiate with her if they hope to avoid a government shutdown
Gov. Katie Hobbs vetoes a Republican-backed “skinny budget” proposal on Feb. 16, 2023. Photo courtesy Arizona Governor’s Office
Gov. Katie Hobbs vetoed the Republican “skinny budget” spending package on Thursday, sharply rebuking GOP legislative leaders in the process.
“This do-nothing budget kicks the can down the road and it’s an insult to Arizonans who need their leaders to address affordable housing, invest in public education, and put money back into their pockets,” Hobbs said in a written statement. “Unfortunately, despite my call to take on these difficult choices and protect our state’s future, the budget approved by a slim, partisan majority in the legislature takes another path. An easy path.”
Republicans this week sent Hobbs a budget that merely extended much of the $18 billion spending plan passed last year — and negotiated by former Gov. Doug Ducey — for another 12 months. While the plan kept ongoing spending measures in place, it cut about $2.3 billion in one-time expenses.
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Last month, before Hobbs announced her spending priorities for the year, Republican lawmakers said they would only negotiate with the Democratic governor on state spending after their continuation budget was signed into law. Though they have presented it as a way to ensure state government won’t shut down in July if the two sides fail to agree on a broader budget plan, the practical effect of doing so would all but guarantee a stalemate because there would be no incentive for GOP legislators to agree to spending any of the state’s nearly $2 billion in surplus cash.
Legislative Democrats all opposed the “skinny budget” and Hobbs’ office explicitly said last month that the bills would be vetoed.
Last year’s budget was controversial for some Republicans, and several voted against the spending, citing concerns that it was too much money. But all of those returning legislators voted for the now vetoed budget.
Sen. Jake Hoffman, R-Queen Creek, who has been in Arizona Senate promotional videos promoting the GOP “skinny budget,” was among those who rejected the proposal last year. Through a Senate spokeswoman, Hoffman said he supports the spending this year because the proposal didn’t include roughly $2.3 billion in one-time funding allocations.
“I’m confident that we can work together on a budget that addresses our state’s housing crisis, lowers costs, prepares our workforce, and invests in public education,” Hobbs wrote. “I know that the people of Arizona didn’t send us here to do the easy thing. They sent us here to do the right thing.”
In a separate letter to Senate and House Republican leadership, Hobbs said her Office of Strategic Planning and Budgeting will be reaching out to them to schedule meetings to discuss a bipartisan budget “before the end of the fiscal year,” adding that negotiating is the best way to ensure a budget is met before July 1.
If lawmakers and Hobbs do not agree on a budget before then, much of the state government would shut down.
Democratic legislative leaders did not mince words about the process or the GOP-only budget.
“Let us be clear: Republican lawmakers unilaterally introduced a sham budget that they knew would be vetoed,” Democratic House Leader Andrés Cano said in a statement. “This was a colossal waste of time by the GOP (and) involved no opportunity for compromise or negotiation.”
Cano said that their doors remain “open” to their Republican colleagues and they look forward to working on a bipartisan budget that “will invest in our schools, tackle inflation, create jobs, and combat rising housing costs.”
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