PHOENIX – Gov. Jan Brewer signed the latest midyear budget-balancing legislation into law Thursday but added a warning to lawmakers that they should bend her way next time.
“It would be fiscally irresponsible for the Legislature to ignore the depths of the (2010-2011) state deficit by promoting a budget plan for (2009-2010) that relies primarily on one-time measures,” Brewer said in a statement.
To close the latest $650 million shortfall in the current budget, GOP lawmakers resorted to accounting maneuvers that postpone $400 million of education spending into the next fiscal year. They also included $250 million of stimulus money, an amount larger than Brewer wanted but much less than lawmakers sought.
The plan also set the stage for the state to grab some school district savings to help balance the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Estimates on how much money that would produce aren’t firm.
Brewer told lawmakers that the next state budget shouldn’t rely primarily on similar maneuvers because that would spell trouble for the following fiscal year, which starts July 1, 2010. It also faces a projected big shortfall that spending cuts alone won’t close, Brewer said.
Most majority Republican legislators have balked at Brewer’s call for a temporary tax increase to produce $1 billion of new revenue to help balance the next several budgets in face of deteriorating revenue collection.
Brewer said she “will not approve” a budget that doesn’t take into account the following year’s “needs and requirements.”
“I am hopeful that, with a continued emphasis on negotiation and compromise, the Legislature can reach consensus with my policy goals to approve a (2009-2010) budget package promptly,” she said.
Lawmakers approved the $650 million plan about 3 1/2 months after they closed a previous $1.6 billion budget shortfall. That action included spending cuts, raids on special-purpose funds and use of stimulus money.