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Updated May 7, 2012 - 5:52 pm

Gov. Brewer signs state budget approved by Legislature

PHOENIX -- Arizona has a new state budget.

Gov. Jan Brewer on Monday signed into law budget legislation approved by the Legislature following negotiations between Brewer and Republican legislative leaders.

The budget's spending totals just under $8.6 billion for the fiscal year starting July 1. That's about $50 million more than in the current fiscal year.

Key elements include socking away $450 million into the state's rainy day fund. Legislators wanted that to prepare for future budget trouble.

New or restored spending in the budget includes $39 million for services for the seriously mentally ill and $50 million over two years to add 500 maximum-security prison beds.

There's also $80 million over four years to replace the state's aging accounting computer system and $40 million for elementary school reading instruction.

Brewer released the following statement:

"Today, I proudly signed into law a conservative and comprehensive budget plan that adds real resources to our State's most critical programs, while setting aside dollars for the fiscal challenges that lay ahead. I applaud and commend legislators of both chambers who worked with me in good faith to make this possible.

"It is worth remembering how far we've come together. When I took office in January 2009, the State of Arizona faced an estimated budget deficit of nearly $3.5 billion for the following year. On a per-capita basis, our shortfall was the nation's worst.

"The decisions that followed were the toughest of my career. Together, lawmakers and I cut spending by the most in our State's history. We asked voters to temporarily increase their own taxes - and they overwhelmingly agreed. We passed into law historic economic legislation, bringing the public and private sectors together with the Arizona Commerce Authority, and spurring business investment with broad tax reforms and targeted business incentives.

"We have begun to see these efforts bear fruit. Our State budget is balanced, with sufficient revenues to augment education, public safety and health and human services. Our Rainy Day Reserve is empty no longer. Best of all, the Arizona economy is generating jobs in numbers we haven't seen in years - 47,000 in February and March alone

"This is all great news. When this budget process began, however, I warned that ‘we in State government must be mindful not to repeat the mistakes of the past, when economic recovery and fiscal exuberance too often went hand-in-hand - leading to unwise and unsustainable expenditures.' It is with pride that I say this budget avoids that trap, while leaving Arizona better positioned for long-term prosperity."

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