Journalists’ Roundtable: The new state budget

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It’s Friday, and that means it’s time for the journalists’ roundtable! We’re taking a look at the week’s top stories including the legislature’s passing and Governor’s signing of the new state budget. Joining us this week to discuss these stories is Camryn Sanchez of Arizona Capitol Times, Howie Fischer of Capitol Media Services and Laurie Roberts of The Arizona Republic and AZCentral.com.

Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs announced Friday she signed a $17.8 billion budget for the 2024 fiscal year that features heavy investments in education, transportation and tax rebates.

To establish this budget, there were very small meetings held over time, Sanchez tells us, and only a few people were allowed to attend. Sanchez added that evidently no legislative Democrats were invited, as they seem to feel as though they did not have a strong enough say in this budget and are upset.

Each lawmaker receives a certain allotment of money, and this decision has gotten mixed reviews. Some are saying resources should have been pooled to focus on bigger projects, and some are saying that everyone in the party got a say.

What was the agreement between Republican leadership and the Governor?

“We don’t really know. I think that the Governor was probably desperate, as any governor would be, to get some of her initiatives in there,” Roberts said.

Governor Hobbs decided to cave on one of the key things she campaigned on, according to Roberts, which was ending the universal voucher program. It was not expected to completely end it, but apparently it was expected of her to show some leadership and at least put a cap on the program.

Fischer suggested since there are about 52,000 kids in the universal program, there could have been a 25% cap or it could have been paused while individuals were figuring out how to pay for it.

Laurie Roberts, The Arizona Republic and AZCentral.com; Howie Fischer, Capitol Media Services; Camryn Sanchez, Arizona Capitol Times

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