After much agonizing and gnashing of teeth, our illustrious legislators managed to give final approval to a special session bill on Saturday that will shave an additional $193 million off Arizona's $1.6 billion state budget deficit.
Good job, guys. Now just figure out what to do with the remaining $1.4 billion, and you can each have a Christmas cookie.
The bill cuts the funding of most state agencies by 7.5 percent, and takes another $79 million chunk out of "special purpose" funds.
Guess that's the best legislators could do after they bungled two attempts at "solutions." Jan Brewer's long-belabored 1-cent sales tax increase died its final death when leaders in the Legislature realized they'd "misjudged" how long it would take to get a referral for a special-election ballot in March. The second was a proposal that would have temporarily suspended constitutional protections on voter-approved spending.
All support for the special session bill -- both in the House and the Senate -- came from Republicans. Democrats panned the bill. They were pissed at some of the cuts (including one that could potentially close the entire state park system) and that the bill neglected to include any source of fundraising.
Brewer was expected to sign the bill early this week. Calls to her office today were not returned.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.