State Budget Talks Stall As Republican Group Negotiates

March 27, 2014

(Photo courtesy of the Arizona State Legislature)
Rep. Heather Carter is part of the group of House members negotiating this week.

A proposed $9.2 billion state budget is up in the air Thursday morning. Talks over the state budget for 2015 in the Arizona House have broken down, and it’s unclear when an agreement will be possible.

A group of six dissident Republican House members, who have been negotiating with leadership most of the week, say all they want is to address Arizona’s most pressing problems. Rep. Heather Carter is among them.

“And it boils down to keeping kids safe and educating children. Now those are not the only priorities of Arizona," said Carter. "But we're here today to tell you that's where some of the breakdowns in conversation have come about.”

Carter said that specifically includes more money for the new child-welfare agency and restoring funds that have been withheld during the lean times for K-12 education. 

The hold-outs have been in talks with House leadership, behind closed doors, since Monday. But, the talks broke down Wednesday, with Rep. Jeff Dial saying the leaders are not negotiating in good faith.

“I think when one side is reaching out, giving you the best offer, and the other side comes back and is playing games, and basically says no to everything basically, then it's a problem," said Dial.

The accusation of bad faith negotiations drew an angry response from Majority Whip Rick Gray.

“We've spent days, hours in meetings. We've got members with all different views," said  Gray. "And so, they may not like what we've been talking about.  But to say we haven't been doing it in good faith is unfair.”

It is unclear when budget discussions will resume.