Arizona budget negotiations hung up by sexual abuse issues
By Phil Riske | Senior Reporter/Writer
This legislative session is not the first where two Republicans took on their party leaders and governor in opposing the proposed state budget. In 2006, it took 128 days, but Republican lawmakers released a budget proposal that met with lukewarm response from party conservatives.
Sen. Jack Harper, R-4, voted for all of the budget bills in a May 17 Appropriations Committee meeting, but was sharply critical of Republican leaders for dismissing his suggestions for the budget, which he felt spent too much money.
Sen. Ron Gould, R-3, said he would vote against it because it contains “too much pork.”
In the end, Governor Napolitano and the 2006 Legislature dedicated $100 million for teacher raises and $160 million for all-day kindergarten over conservative’s dissent.
Earlier this week, Democrats said they were fairly comfortable with the governor’s budget, but wanted to meet with Ducey on certain portions of the budget.
On Thursday, a second Republican lawmaker said she won’t vote for a spending plan unless and until the state gives victims of childhood sexual abuse more time to sue the perpetrators.
Sen. Heather Carter, R-Cave Creek, said providing legal relief to victims can’t be overlooked.
“Sometimes there are issues that transcend everything else we do down at the Capitol,” she told Capitol Media Services. “It’s time for Arizona to improve its state statutes to help child victims of sexual abuse.”
It’s now down to the numbers game, and the Senate is without a working GOP majority. There are only 17 Republicans in the 30-member Senate. In aligning with Sen. Paul Boyer, R-Phoenix, who already has said he is a holdout unless the statute of limitations for reporting sexual abuse is extended.
The fight is over current Arizona law, which says child victims of sexual assault or abuse have two years after they turn 18 to file a civil suit.
Boyer, citing the studies about some children not realizing they were victims until decades later, seeks two key changes to the law.
A year later, the roof falls in
Economists say the recession officially began in late 2007.
In Arizona, the housing market collapsed, unemployment numbers began to rise and home prices began to fall.
state revenue, which primarily depends on sales tax, took a nosedive. The next year’s general fund revenue was about $2 billion less than it was in 2007, although state spending has remained the same. The state has responded to declining revenue with a mixture of spending cuts, budget gimmicks and tax increases.
The $2.2 billion in spending reductions over those past two years included eliminating state funding of all-day kindergarten, cutting funding for K-12 education, universities and services for the mentally ill.