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State Representative David Livingston speaking at the 2016 Arizona Manufacturing Summit at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, Arizona.
State Representative David Livingston speaking at the 2016 Arizona Manufacturing Summit at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Budget Battle Lines Drawn Between Hobbs and Republican Legislature

Accusations of grandstanding and partisan politics resurge after cross-aisle overtures

By Steve Kirwan, January 19, 2024 3:17 pm

If you believe Arizona Democrat Governor Katie Hobbs’ State-of-the-State (SOTS) speech, 2024 promised to usher in a new spirit of bipartisanship. And then reality set in. Almost immediately, partisan rancor returned, especially on budget issues. As Arizona Globe reported on January 12. 2024, Democrat Senate Minority Leader Mitzi Epstein disallowed her caucus to participate in any budget discussions with Senate Republicans. In addition, Arizona Globe also reported that Hobbs is at loggerheads with the Senate over the use of stated land trust revenues for teacher pay.

Last week, Governor Hobbs released her fiscal year 2025 budget, stating, “Arizonans are counting on us to make the state we call home the best place to live, work, and raise a family. We made incredible progress during my first year in office, and my Executive Budget proposal builds on this foundation and expands opportunities for every Arizonan to reach their full potential. We are cutting out the wasteful taxpayer spending while making critical investments that will help middle class families buy a home, expand access to childcare, make prescription drugs more affordable, and protect disabled Arizonans and seniors. This is what it looks like to invest in our communities and build a state that works for every Arizonan.”

Despite her seemingly taxpayer-friendly rhetoric, Republican Senator John Kavanagh (R-LD3) quickly fired back in opposition to her plan, stating, “These elements in her proposal are dead on arrival with the Republican Majority. Her grandstanding of bipartisanship during her State of the State Address is a far cry from the reality of this budget proposal, as her funding cuts strictly target Republican priorities.”

Representative David Livingston (R-28), the Republican House Appropriations chairman, added, “Like last year’s proposal, the governor’s budget is an unserious mess. Her revenue and enrollment predictions don’t reflect reality, and her solution to the deficit proposes cuts to K-12 and water investments. We understand most of this is meant to appeal to her base. When she is willing to engage more seriously, Republicans are ready.”

Unsurprisingly, House Democrats support Hobbs’ budget plan. In a written statement, House Minority Leader Lupe Contreras (D-12) said, “We applaud the Governor for producing a budget that protects the priorities that will drive our state forward and that our caucus has consistently championed for our communities – public education, affordable housing, childcare for working families and vital services for the most vulnerable Arizonans. She is listening and leading.”

Each side has proposed wildly differing viewpoints on managing the state’s budget shortfall. Although both sides tout fiscal responsibility and a desire to reign in wasteful spending, “the devil is in the details.” It all comes down to priorities, and as Democrats and Republicans will tell you, each has a better vision, and their opponents are “the devil incarnate.”

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