As the budget stalemate at the state Capitol drags on, lame-duck Governor Doug Ducey and Republican legislative leaders have agreed to a budget “framework,” one which includes more than a half billion dollars for fencing and other border security measures, but one which shortchanges public education.

This is in keeping with the GQP’s 2022 midterm election strategy of anti-immigrant hysteria and white fright. Hell, wild-eyed white supremacist Karrin Taylor Robson has even dug up our former failed GQP governor “headless bodies in the desert” Jan Brewer, who rose to national fame by defending Arizona’s infamous SB 1070 anti-immigration law and by exaggerating rising violence along the U.S.-Mexico border as her role model (Brewer has endorsed her). Oh GOD NO, Arizona does not need another Jan Brewer.

Jeremy Duda, who now works for Axios -Phoenix, reports Arizona proposes half a billion dollars to address border security:

According to budget documents obtained by Axios, the proposal would put $544 million of one-time spending into the Department of Emergency and Military Affairs’ border security fund.

      • $355 million would be used for fencing.
      • The rest of the money will go toward various other border security issues, such as $30 million for local prosecutors, a $53.4 million sheriff stipend and $15 million for other local law enforcement agencies.

C.J. Karamargin, a spokesperson for the governor, told Axios the new fencing will go “where it currently isn’t” under the new proposal, but didn’t have any details about specific locations.

      • The majority of the Arizona-Mexico border is on federal or tribal land, where the state has no legal authority to put up any barriers.
      • It hasn’t been decided yet what kind of fencing would go along the border either.

“This ultimately is a federal responsibility, but the fact that the federal government is either unwilling or unable to address this issue means we have to. So we’re going to look at those areas where it can be most effective,” Karamargin said.

In other words, our “Wimpy Kid” Governor Ducey doesn’t want Texas Governor Gregg Abbott to be the only GQP governor pissing away taxpayer dollars on building a vanity wall along the Arizona-Mexico border. They are all Donald Trump now.

The border security spending is part of a proposed $15.1 billion budget for fiscal year 2023 that has $13.6 billion in ongoing spending and $1.6 billion in one-time monies

The state has a massive budget surplus of about $5.3 billion.

Between the lines: Despite GOP control of the governor’s office and both chambers of the legislature, Ducey and Republican leadership have been unable to pass a budget deal due to disagreements over how to spend the state’s sizable surplus.

      • Republicans have only one-vote majorities in both the House and Senate, meaning they must vote unanimously on anything that lacks Democratic support.
      • Ducey and leadership could reach out to Democrats for extra votes, but they want more than Republicans are willing to give them.

Threat level: Arizona faces a government shutdown if lawmakers and Ducey can’t agree on a budget by June 30.

Karamargin emphasized that the current plan is only a “framework” and is likely to change as budget negotiations proceed.

Asked whether the border security spending is negotiable, Karamargin didn’t answer directly, instead saying, “Budgets are arrived at through lots of give and take, lots of back and forth about ideas… The clock is ticking. We have a short amount of time before the next fiscal year begins.”

Too much: Republican Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita called the budget proposal “garbage” and said it spent too much without providing additional tax relief to Arizonans who are suffering from inflation and high gas prices.

      • “It’s pretty pathetic, right? I mean, it’s kind of like an extension of the skinny budget but with a bunch of one-time payoff money to members,” Ugenti-Rita told Axios. “I don’t know why a conservative would vote for it.”
      • Yes, but: Last year, lawmakers passed a historic income tax cut.

Not enough: Republican Senator Paul Boyer told the Arizona Republic that the budget plan doesn’t increase education spending enough, which he called a “glaring issue.”

There is reasonable doubt that there are enough Republican votes to pass a budget. Since Democrats, who represent almost half of all Arizonans, are excluded from these secret GQP budget talks, they have little or no incentive to provide the votes for a GQP budget. The budget could have been hammered out over the past six months in committee hearings with publc input, but that’s not how authoritarian Republicans roll. They don’t believe in transparency.

House Democratic leader Reginald Bolding told Axios that the budget plan falls short in a number of areas, most notably education, and said he doubts it has enough support to pass.

“I think there are some misplaced priorities in that budget. I think, right now, we have an opportunity to do something meaningful here in the state of Arizona with the budget surplus that we have,” Bolding said.

Back in April, The House Appropriations Committee rejected a “skinny budget” that would have mostly continued spending levels from the current fiscal year.

They may very well end up approving a skinny budget, because that is all they can agree on. They all want to campaign for the August primary, and to gaslight voters about how much they are getting done.

Oh really? Where is the legislative package to deal with Arizona’s impending water crisis?

UPDATE: The Arizona Agenda adds, We got legislative budget docs:

The documents reflect a $15.1 billion spending plan for Fiscal Year 2023 that includes a $1.3 billion tax cut over three years. It would also invest roughly $1 billion into water infrastructure over the next three years, pay down roughly $1 billion in pension liability and offer a 20% raise to all Department of Corrections employees. It allocates close to $1 billion for various road projects. And despite another massive $425 million deposit in the state’s “rainy day fund,” the spending plan would still end up with a $1 billion surplus in three years.

It does not, however, include a viable path to becoming law, according to multiple lawmakers.

One important line item that is not included is Republican Sen. Paul Boyer’s nearly $1 billion for Arizona’s K-12 system — a line item he has said is a requirement to earn his support on the budget.

Boyer told the Yellow Sheet Report that he’s a “hell no on the budget at this point.” And he stormed out of his small group meeting meeting where he was briefed on it, too.

And, despite lacking enough Republican votes to pass a budget, the draft doesn’t include any Democratic priorities — and includes several poison pills, like expansions of School Tuition Organizations, that will make Dems highly unlikely to vote for it.

Non-budget bargaining chips, like election laws, could also come into play to get some lawmakers to vote for a budget. But don’t expect a stack of non-budget items in the budget itself: That practice got several provisions of last year’s budget struck down in the courts.

Lawmakers have only one job: to set a state budget. They have until June 30 to vote out a budget for Fiscal Year 2023, which begins on July 1. If they don’t, elements of state government could be shut down — but they could also use various maneuvers to prevent that possibility.




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