Arizona Budget

FILE - In this May 28, 2019 file photo Arizona Republican Sen. Paul Boyer, at the podium, is seen with Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey during a news conference in Phoenix. The fate of a state budget deal negotiated between Republican legislative leaders and Gov. Doug Ducey remained uncertain after the House delayed a scheduled debate and Senate President Karen Fann said she hoped her chamber would approve the plan Thursday, May 27, 2021. Boyer said Thursday morning that he opposes the current package and plans to vote no unless major changes are made, and with no Democratic support the budget won't pass unless he changes his stance. 

(The Center Square) – Republicans in the Arizona Legislature gaveled out Thursday, unable to agree among their caucus on a final budget.

Lawmakers were told by Republican leadership Thursday afternoon that they couldn’t find common ground that would bring all of their members to vote for Gov. Doug Ducey’s proposed budget that scrapped the state’s progressive income tax structure and replaced it with a flat 2.5%.

Both the House of Representatives and Senate adjourned until June 10 but reserved the option to reconvene sooner should lawmakers reach an agreement.

Senate President Karen Fann told lawmakers Thursday that talks had broken down over the past 12 hours and that keeping members at the Capitol would be futile.

Republicans kept thin majorities after the 2020 general election that saw the state’s 11 Electoral College votes go to President Joe Biden while also electing U.S. Senate challenger Mark Kelly over appointed Republican incumbent Martha McSally. While they maintained control of both state chambers, such thin majorities mean one or two defecting Republican lawmakers can stall any party-line vote.

Democrats responded to the adjournment in a statement, calling the budget stalemate “a disservice to the people of Arizona,” touting their proposed budget that wouldn’t cut taxes and would instead redirect those funds into education and expand Medicaid.

“Republicans have decided to take a vacation instead of working with us to pass a people’s budget,” the party said in a statement. “Arizona doesn’t need more tax cuts that will only help corporations and the wealthiest.”

In caucus meetings, some Republicans demanded the budget include language that would ban schools from requiring students wear masks when they return to class next fall. Others thought the $1.5 billion tax cut was too drastic and should be split between a smaller tax cut and spending on public infrastructure and paying down debt. Sen. Paul Boyer, R-Glendale, told The Associated Press on Thursday morning that the budget needed major changes before he would support it. 

Regional Editor

Cole Lauterbach is a regional editor for The Center Square covering Arizona, California, Oregon, and Washington. For more than a decade, Cole has produced award-winning content on both radio and television.