Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey recently addressed a letter to Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers and Senate President Karen Fann over vetoing 22 bills, adding that he will not sign any additional bills until a budget was passed. With a month left in the fiscal year, the Arizona legislature has still not reached an agreement on a budget for Arizonans.
The Senate recently pulled the plug on a budget vote and, instead, said they would adjourn June 10 on the proposed spending plan. Some representatives have even noted holiday plans over the Memorial Day Weekend and being unable to vote. The budget deal has been a mix of Republicans – those who are too worried about the tax cuts and those who believe the plan spends too much money. Democrats, on the other hand, have argued that they want even more spending.
While waiting to vote on the spending plan, Gov. Ducey vetoed a handful of bills, including SB1074, which would ban anti-racism training or the Critical Race Theory curriculum for government workers. He also vetoed bills addressing special meals for pregnant inmates, college spending, and marijuana research. While some have called the governor’s veto a “public temper tantrum,” others have argued that it’s “time to sober up and get things done.”
While some Senate Democrats have been in favor of the plan, others unanimously opposed the $12.8 billion budget, specifically the 2.5% proposed flat tax. They said that the proposed flat tax would advantage Arizona’s top 1% earners and take away from the voter-approved Prop 208, which raises taxes on high-income earners to fund state schooling.
Republican Sen. Paul Boyer also said he is worried that the income tax would work out to mean less money for cities and towns. They estimated a loss of $285 million a year in state income tax revenue. He said he knew that the governor has made similar moves in the past in regards to vetoing bills and that it “would have been foolish of me” not to think Ducey would do it again. He notes that the vetoes mean a whole series of bills will have to move back through both chambers in the session.
“It hurts. It means more time for us. It means late introductions, it means the whole rigmarole, all over again. But we’ve been working and trying to work through each of our recalcitrant members and holdouts to have a budget. And next week we’re going to be trying to put one together and hopefully, we can move,” Boyers said.
But Gov. Ducey has argued that the flat tax and spending plan would keep Arizona competitive with other states and create up to 550,000 jobs.
“On the table is a budget agreement that makes responsible and significant investments in K-12 education, higher education, infrastructure, and local communities, all while delivering historic tax relief to working families and small businesses,” Gov. Ducey said.
Gov. Ducey said that the $12.8 billion plan includes massive income tax cuts, new spending on roads and other improvements, as well as tax cuts for veterans and business property. The spending will also focus on securing the border, which has been an important issue in Arizona politics.
Gov. Ducey recently described the border crisis as a “man-made crisis” during a session of the National Review Institute’s 2021 Ideas Summit. He said that Trump’s campaign and the administration’s partnership made a real difference in securing the border, but that things dramatically changed when the Biden Administration came in. He blasted Biden for rolling back Trump’s safe third-nation policies and “Remain In Mexico” policies, and even had to deploy the National Guard and declare a state of emergency.
“It’s become evidently clear that Arizona needs the National Guard, and the White House is aware of that. Yet, to this day, there has been no action from this administration, and it doesn’t look like they are going to act any time soon. If this administration isn’t going to do anything, then we will,” Gov. Ducey said.
Lawmakers face a constitutional deadline to pass the Arizona budget in the coming days and with the start of the fiscal year being July 1, it’s time for the legislature to get back to work.