The Latest: Senate budget holdout says he’s near deal
PHOENIX (AP) — The Latest on committee hearings for the Arizona budget (all times local):
A Republican state senator who is holding out on the budget until he gets a longer time for childhood sex assault victims to sue their assailants says he is close to a deal that would address his concerns.
Sen. Paul Boyer said Wednesday evening that victims could sue until age 35 under the tentative deal. Victims currently barred from the courthouse by the state’s law preventing anyone over 20 from suing would have one year to do so. Institutions could only be sued if they ignored or covered up a sex abuse report.
A spokesman for House Speaker Rusty Bowers said no deal was in place.
If a deal were cut Boyer said he may still have concerns with the current budget proposal negotiated between Republican Senate and House leaders and GOP Gov. Doug Ducey.
The Arizona Senate and House appropriations committees have approved the main state budget bill and are now moving on to 9 other pieces of legislation that fund state agencies, public schools and universities.
Wednesday’s action in the Legislature comes as Republicans who control both chambers rush to pass a budget this week and possibly adjourn for the year.
The full House and Senate are likely to debate the budget Thursday and votes could follow quickly. House Republicans appear united, but at least four GOP Senate members have issues and may hold up the vote.
Former holdout Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita announced Wednesday she had agreed to support the budget after winning a fight for a two year repeal of a $32 vehicle license fee rather than a five year repeal.
A key Republican senator who vowed not to vote for a budget deal unless a new vehicle license fee was quickly repealed says she’s reached a deal with the governor and GOP legislators to phase it out in two years.
Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita said at a hearing Wednesday that she will now support the budget deal.
The fee approved by lawmakers last year was sold at $18 fee but turned out to be twice that amount. It was designed to pay for highway patrol operations and end a budget gimmick that had funded those patrols with money meant to maintain roads.
The budget deal announced early this week would have phased out the new fee in five years.
The Arizona House committee charged with reviewing the state budget proposal has kicked off a daylong hearing on the $11.8 billion spending plan.
Minority Democrats on the appropriations committee immediately began trying to amend the bills to reflect their spending priorities but aren’t expected to succeed Wednesday. The Senate’s appropriations committee is expected to take up the budget later in the day.
Republicans who control the Legislature may tweak their proposals to get buy-in from their members but are expected to ignore Democrats.
Details made available Tuesday night show a number of budget surprises not mentioned in early briefings. They include funding a help line that seeks to steer pregnant women away from abortions and a provision addressing Flagstaff’s higher minimum wage that could cost the city.