State budget includes disputed $1.9B tax cut

By Howard Fischer | Capitol Media Services 

Buoyed by strong state revenues, Gov. Doug Ducey is proposing a $14.25 billion spending plan for the new fiscal year, about 8.6% more than this year, including tax cuts aimed at the poor to reward them for working.

Other spending priorities include:

$227 million in new K-12 funding above and behind what’s required to keep pace with enrollment growth and inflation;

$127 million for higher education, including $46 million for “economy workforce initiatives” at the three universities to prepare students for careers in future jobs;

$25.7 million to for would-be nursing students to attend the privately run Creighton University to help staff Arizona hospitals;

$25.6 million to increase the amount of money given to people who agree to take care of relatives instead of them going into foster care or congregate care settings.

The budget also includes $160 million to start work on increasing the state’s water supply.

That is far short of the $1 billion commitment he made in his State of the State speech. But aides said that promise was for over three years, meaning after he has left office.

And even then, much of the cash is not for grand projects like desalination but instead for shorter-term solutions like water banking and paying tribes and others to use less Colorado River water.

Ducey also wants to put $50 million into border security, paying for more officers to patrol the area and help fund counties with the cost of detaining and prosecuting people for state crimes.

But some of that money is going to erect what the governor’s office is calling “physical barriers” along stretches of the border where they have access. And that specifically means private lands.

Aides said the most likely targeted areas are in Cochise County where ranchers have property right up against the international boundary.

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