Budget Battle '09: Governor Goes AWOL as Legislators Get Back to Work
Where is Governor Jan Brewer these days? Well, we know where she's not, and that's participating in budget talks with the Arizona Legislature.
On Wednesday, members from both sides of the aisle met for the third time this week to try to hash out a plan to pay for this years budget and the $2 billion shortfall that comes with it. The governor, for the third day in a row, was not at these meetings.
Brewer called for a legislative lockdown earlier this month, forcing legislators into a special session, demanding that they figure out a way to include education programs into their budget, which they nixed from their original proposal.
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Aside from telling legislators that she refuses to part with her 1-cent sales tax proposal (which many lawmakers, both Republican and Democrat, can't stand), the Governor has offered few solutions to the $2-billion problem she helped create.
"She's given us nothing," House Majority Leader Andy Tobin tells the Arizona Guardian. "If the Republicans and the Democrats came together in agreement, I can't tell you if it would include a referral, and I don't know whether the governor would sign it."
Legislators say they have been successful in agreeing with one another and making the concessions needed to appease the cantankerous chief executive, but without knowing anything more than she simply wont budge on the sales-tax increase, there is little they can do.
"The governor has drafted a number of potential solutions over the past months. She's had conversations with members of leadership," Brewer spokesman Paul Senseman fires back at suggestions that the governor is suspiciously absent from the negotiations. "But there has to be a willingness on the part of legislators to compromise. And from some of the public statements that we've seen... there are no signals of any willingness to work on plans that could actually succeed."
We defend the Legislature rarely, but how about this Governor Brewer? Actually give lawmakers a plan, and they might actually be able to make it succeed.
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