The Latest: Arizona House passes $9.6 billion budget

The Latest: Arizona House passes $9.6 billion budget

PHOENIX (AP) – The Latest on Arizona’s budget (all times local):

1:45 a.m.

The Arizona Legislature has passed a $9.6 billion budget after a week spent wrangling over additional funding for K-12 schools that wasn’t included in the initial agreement.

Lawmakers debated until nearly 2 a.m. Wednesday morning before approving a spending package for the state budget year beginning July 1 that included a small increase in funding for several school line items.

Democrats attempted to restore a health insurance program for children of the working poor that was closed to enrollment in 2010 amid a state funding crunch. They were unable to amend the budget to include the Children’s Health Insurance Program, known in Arizona as KidsCare. Arizona remains the only state that doesn’t participate in the program.

The minority party also tried to add an additional $116 million to the K-12 school budget. They pointed to the upcoming vote on a school funding referendum known as Proposition 123 as the promised first step and the small budget increase in the state funding proposal as inadequate.

6 p.m.

Democrats in the Arizona House have failed to restore a health insurance program for poor children through an amendment to the state budget package.

Tuesday‘s effort came after Republicans who back the plan pulled their own amendments in the face of opposition. Republican Rep. Regina Cobb of Lake Havasu City says she was committed to getting the insurance program back but wasn’t willing to sabotage the entire budget agreement to push that one issue.

Arizona remains the only state that doesn’t participate in the Children’s Health Insurance Program, called KidCare in Arizona. A proposal to resume participating passed the House by a wide margin on in March. It stalled in the Senate after President Andy Biggs refused to hear it.

Cobb says she’s asking Biggs to allow the stand-alone bill he’s been blocking to go to the floor and pass or fail on its own merits.

Backers believe it will provide insurance for about 30,000 low-income children whose parents make between 138 and 200 percent of the federal poverty line.

The Legislature continued debating the $9.6 billion budget package into the evening.

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2:30 p.m.

Democratic Senators are railing against the Republican-backed budget with amendments to remove and redirect funding provisions, though none passed.

Sen. Olivia Cajero Bedford, D-Tucson, wanted to give $5.5 million back to all three universities that is specifically set aside for programs backed by billionaire Republican donor Charles Koch.

“Fund your own damn non-degree conservative institution,” said Martin Quezada, D-Phoenix.

Quezada then attempted to strip a nearly $27 million appropriation for the Governor’s border strike force. He said the state should leave border patrol to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Sen. Debbie Lesko, R-Peoria, said the fact that narcotics are still getting through the border proves the need for the governor’s strike force.

“Let’s face it, there are still drug issues. There is still crime issues related to drugs, so obviously we need more help,” she said.

Other Democratic amendments sought to repeal a campaign finance law and a Class 6 felony for collecting early ballots that Gov. Doug Ducey signed into law earlier this session.

Republican John Kavanagh of Fountain Hills said Democrats should not be putting policy inside the budget proposal.

“I stand into opposition to almost all of the floor amendments I’ve been hearing because they don’t deal with the budget, they deal with bills,” he said.

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12:40 p.m.

A plan to restore a health insurance program for poor children through an amendment to the state budget package appears to have fallen victim to politics.

Republican Rep. Karen Fann says opposition from fiscal conservatives in the House sidelined that planned effort Tuesday. Amendments were expected in both the House and Senate to restore the plan during debate on a $9.58 billion budget plan.

Arizona remains the only state that doesn’t participate in the Children’s Health Insurance Program, called KidCare in Arizona. A proposal to resume participating passed the House by a wide margin on in March. It stalled in the Senate after President Andy Biggs refused to hear it.

Fann says House members are now asking Biggs to allow the stand-alone bill he’s been blocking to go to the floor and pass or fail on its own merits.

Backers believe it will provide insurance for about 30,000 low-income children whose parents make between 138 and 200 percent of the federal poverty line.

The House had passed four of 14 bills making up the budget as of the noon hour.

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11:45 a.m.

The Arizona House has approved the first in a series of budget bills as it settles in for a long day of debate and votes.

Tuesday‘s 36-24 party-line vote on the revenue part of the budget crafted by majority Republicans sets the stage for more than a dozen other pieces of legislation that enact the $9.58 billion budget package.

Democrats tried to add an amendment to the bill that would freeze a phase-in of corporate income tax cuts and to block a yearly increase in a private school tax credit program. Republicans blocked the effort.

The deal between Republican House and Senate leaders and Gov. Doug Ducey was introduced last week but stalled as some GOP House members insisted on more funding for K-12 schools. They persuaded Ducey and Legislative leaders to add more than $30 million in additional money for some school funding line-items.

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11:26 a.m.

The Senate has given preliminary approval to six bills in the $9.58 billion budget package.

Senate President Andy Biggs included an amendment to one of the bills that would move the administration of the former mining, mineral and natural resources museum to the Geological Survey within the University of Arizona.

The transfer would include about $430,000 from the Historical Society and would allow the society to reclaim the museum if U of A doesn’t open it within two years.

Gov. Doug Ducey vetoed a bill to reopen the museum last year.

All six bills still require a formal vote.

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10:25 a.m.

The Senate has begun debate on Arizona’s $9.58 billion budget package.

Senate Democrats began Tuesday‘s debate with a 91-page amendment to the day’s first budget bill.

Sen. Steve Farley of Tucson sponsored the amendment to put a sunset date on all sales tax exemptions and tax credits. Farley said the amendment was designed for lawmakers to review the exemptions and credits to save the state billions of dollars.

A majority of senators opposed the amendment and it was not added to the bill.

The House has advanced the first four bills of the budget package though they still require a formal vote.

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9:30 a.m.

The Arizona House has begun debate on the state’s $9.58 billion budget package.

Tuesday‘s debate comes after a week of failed negotiations prevented the package from moving forward.

Some majority Republican House members insisted on boosts to some school funding line-items in the budget negotiated between Senate President Andy Biggs, House Speaker David Gowan and Gov. Doug Ducey.

The Senate is also expected to begin debate Tuesday.

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3 a.m.

Members of the Arizona House and Senate have been told that debate on a nearly $10 billion state budget package is now set.

House Speaker David Gowan and Senate President Andy Biggs told members they’ll begin work on a budget Tuesday.

The announcements come after a week of failed negotiations on a deal, but members said late Monday it appears in place. Some majority Republican House members insisted on boosts to some school funding line-items before they would support the $9.58 billion budget package.

A deal could still fail to materialize.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.

About The Author

Eduardo Santiago joined the FOX 9 and ABC 5 news team in February, 2012. That’s the same year KECY launched its very first local newscast. He has been covering local news in Yuma and the Imperial Valley since his start as a KYMA photojournalist in 2006. During his decade in broadcasting, Eduardo has covered some of the biggest stories in the Desert Southwest – from President Bush’s visit to Yuma, Ariz. to the uncovering of drug tunnels that span the US-Mexico border. One of the most memorable stories Eduardo covered was the 2010 Easter Earthquake that rocked the Imperial Valley, Mexicali, and Yuma. Eduardo, along with his news team, won an award from the Associated Press for best coverage of an ongoing story following the quake. Before he made his move to TV, Eduardo was just a kid born in East Los Angeles, where he spent his early childhood. His parents moved him to Mexicali, B.C. Mexico, where he did most of his elementary school education. He finally landed in El Centro, where he graduated from Central Union High School in 2005. Eduardo is currently a student at Imperial Valley College. You can find Eduardo hanging out in the Imperial Valley and Yuma with his family on any given weekend. His off-screen passion is playing guitar and sports.

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