Arizona Senate Reviews Altered Budget Proposal

March 31, 2014

(Photo courtesy of the Arizona State Legislature)
Rep. Kate Brophy McGee

The Arizona Senate began to review the House-altered state budget Monday morning, and a promise in writing to consider more funding for child-welfare could complicate the procedure. The House budget added about $54 million to the funding approved earlier by the Senate, though hardly any of it was for the new Division of Child Welfare and Family Services.

The measure does say it is the “intent of the Legislature” to re-examine the budget next month, after a report on the new agency is completed to provide resources to meet its needs. Senate President Andy Biggs, who basically wrote the budget, wants that language out.

“It's an amorphous statement full of sound and fury but without any meaning,” Biggs said.

He said there is no need for the language Rep. Kate Brophy McGee successfully had added in the House. That has left Brophy McGee puzzled.

“If it doesn't mean anything, then there should be no harm in staying in there,” Brophy McGee said.

Sen. Chester Crandell, a member of the committee, is concerned about the impact of a House amendment obligating the Legislature to fund a new child welfare office, even though the price of that funding is undetermined.

“That basically would obligate future legislators to something that they may not know what is, and there’s no specific amount," Crandell said.

He said he does not believe that is good policy. But, Phoenix Democrat Katie Hobbs said other than $3 million more for child welfare and $33 million for charter schools, there is little difference between the House and Senate versions. She believes both budget plans fall far short of the needed spending on education and child protection.

The Senate Appropriations Committee is to start work on the House-passed measure on Monday.

Updated 3/31/2014 at 2:57 p.m.