For more than a month, the Legislature hasn’t done much except pass a few bills and take random days off. The current glacial pace is the result of multiple feuds within the Republican Caucus of the Arizona Legislature.
The budget appears to be going no where. For weeks, the Republican leadership has been stuck between a rock (pleasing their Libertarian wing) and a hard place (negotiating with the Democrats). The Republican austerity budget died on a bipartisan vote in the House Appropriations Committee in late April. (Check out my late April blog post and video on that subject.)
Libertarians don’t want to spend money on anything — even to save lives. This is unrealistic and cruel when our state has $5 billion in the coffers and chronic poverty. Unfortunately, the Republican leadership wants to continue their tradition of not negotiating with the Democrats on the budget. Our ideas are not extreme; we have common sense spending proposals (like funding public education, basic healthcare, affordable housing, and infrastructure).
To complicate matters further for the Republicans, House Speaker Rusty Bowers and Senate President Karen Fann are not working together because they are on opposite sides of the Stop the Steal 2020 election fraud conspiracy. Bowers is receiving a national award because he didn’t bow to the radical arm of the Arizona Republican Party and didn’t jump on board with Stop the Steal in late 2020. (Thank you, Speaker Bowers!) On the other hand, Fann, who was a key figure in the Maricopa County “fraudit”, is still promoting discredited conspiracy theories. Even at the highest levels of Arizona government, the Republicans are in disarray.
Consequently, there is no budget. The House has had sketchy, random Floor schedules since the Republican austerity budget went down in flames. There are backroom negotiations happening but no agreement. I watched the Appropriations Committee meeting on April 26. From what the committee members said, I don’t see how Bowers will get Libertarians like Reps. Jake Hoffman and moderates like Reps. Michelle Udall and Joanne Osborne on the same budget document. We are coasting slowly toward the June 30, 2022 deadline.
Here’s a budget update as of May 18, 2022.