Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey vows not to sign any bills until budget passes
PHOENIX – Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey vetoed 22 bills on Friday and told state lawmakers he won’t sign any more legislation until they pass a budget.
“This weekend marks one month until the end of the fiscal year, and Arizonans are counting on us to work together and pass a budget that provides certainty for taxpayers and citizens,” he wrote in a veto letter to Senate President Karen Fann and House Speaker Rusty Bowers.
“Until that happens, I do not intend on signing any additional bills transmitted by the Legislature.”
The budget deal he worked out with Republican leaders has proven to be controversial and faces significant hurdles.
The Senate on Thursday pulled the plug on a plan to vote on a budget and instead adjourned until June 10 unless they break the impasse earlier on the $12.8 billion spending plan.
The House reached the same conclusion on Wednesday, adjourning until June 10 unless they can reach a deal with their members sooner.
Ducey’s action on Friday will not make the Legislature quickly return to work. There are multiple members out of town for the Memorial Day weekend and missing off and on through the month of June.
But with the start of the fiscal year July 1, lawmakers face a constitutional deadline to pass a budget.
“So now we better sober up and get things done,” Bowers said.
With only a one-vote majority in each chamber and no Democratic support, Republicans need their entire caucus approve the deal.
However, Glendale Republican Sen. Paul Boyer said he has problems with the plan.
“The biggest concern is the scope and the permanence of the $1.9 billion flat tax that would significantly impact Arizonans for, really, decades to come,” Boyer told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Thursday.
The proposed deal would impose a flat 2.5% income tax that works out to a $1.9 billion loss in state revenue once in place in three years.
Boyer said he worries that would mean less money for cities and towns. They’re estimated to lose $285 million a year in state income tax revenue.
Recent polling of likely Arizona voters by HighGround Public Affairs found overall opposition to the budget plan at 47.8%, vs. 31.2% support and 21% uncommitted.
The poll also covered certain key aspects of the budget proposal, all of which had greater opposition than support.
Ducey said in his veto letter some of rejected bills “contain good policy” and noted that he’d signed 381 bills into law this year, the most of his administration.
Among the bills vetoed Friday was SB 1074, which was sent to Ducey a day earlier. It would have banned certain types of anti-racism training for government workers and was part of a national conservative backlash against critical race theory.
Bills requiring the state prison system to provide feminine hygiene products to female inmates and making it illegal for county recorders to sent early ballots to voters who didn’t request them were also among those rejected.
Other bills hit with Ducey’s veto stamp include ones increasing write-offs for deposits to college savings plans, boosting testing for marijuana and using marijuana fund money to research mental illness and one allocating money to fund emergency shelter beds for older Maricopa County residents.
Bowers said he knew the governor has made similar moves in the past and said “it would have been foolish of me” not to think Ducey would do it again. Still, the vetoes mean a whole series of bills will have to move back through the system in both chambers very late in the session, or die.
“It hurts. It means more time for us. It means late introductions, it means the whole rigmarole, all over again,” Bowers said. “But we’ve been working and trying to work through each of our recalcitrant members and holdouts to have a budget. And next week we’re going to be trying to put one together and hopefully we can move.”
In 2016, Ducey told Republican leaders he did not want to see any more bills transmitted to his desk until he got the budget. But he did not veto any bills, instead signing the five that were awaiting actions when he issued the threat April 1.
KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Griselda Zetino and The Associated Press contributed to this report.