Arizona party leaders laud state budget as bipartisan achievement

Jun 27, 2022, 11:27 AM

From left, Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers (Getty Images Photo) and House Minority Leader Regina...

From left, Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers (Getty Images Photo) and House Minority Leader Reginald Bolding (Facebook Photo/Rep. Reginald Bolding)

(Facebook Photo/Rep. Reginald Bolding)

PHOENIX – Arizona state Rep. Rusty Bowers is pleased with how the state budget turned out in his final year as House speaker, but the Republican has special fondness for one particular element.

“It was a fantastic budget,” Bowers told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Monday.

“Know what the best part of the budget was? It was bipartisan.”

House Minority Leader Reginald Bolding also had good things to say about how a compromise was achieved as the clock ticked toward the annual July 1 deadline for completing the budget.

“Right now Arizona is a lot more purple than it is red or blue, and I think voters sent us down there to work together,” the Democrat told Broomhead in a separate interview Monday.

“We passed a historic bipartisan budget that’s going to put significant investments in K-12 classrooms, really help tackle the housing crisis that we have here, and with regards to infrastructure there’s a number of different projects that we have to bring jobs here to Arizona.”

It was the last budget process for the two House party leaders in their current roles. Bowers is running for a state Senate seat this year, while Bolding is seeking the Democratic nomination for Arizona secretary of state.

Lawmakers worked through the night and passed the $18 billion spending plan for fiscal year 2023 shortly before sunrise Thursday.

“We had our extremes on both sides that wouldn’t participate. So we just said, ‘OK, we’ve got to put this together,’” Bowers said.

“We sat down and pounded it out and it added 1.7% in added expenditures to get enough Democrats to put 50 votes on the on the board, 50 out of 60. To me, that says a lot.”

The budget is actually a series of bills, most of which passed the 60-seat House with more than 40 votes and the 30-seat Senate with at least 18 votes.

Republicans worked with a one-seat advantage in each chamber the past two years, so bipartisan support was needed to pass anything when the GOP caucus wasn’t unanimous.

Lawmakers weren’t done for the year after passing the budget. They convened to work on on several other bills — including a massive expansion of the state’s private school voucher system that passed with only Republican backing — before the second session of the 55th state Legislature adjourned sine die just after midnight Friday.

“I’m glad to come up for air,” Bowers said.

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Arizona party leaders laud state budget as bipartisan achievement