Arizona Senate Republicans release majority plan for 2024 legislative session

Dec 15, 2023, 2:00 PM

File photo of the copper dome at the Arizona Capitol in Phoenix...

(KTAR News File Photo)

(KTAR News File Photo)

PHOENIX — Arizona Senate Republicans released their majority plan for 2024 on Thursday as they look ahead to a second legislative session with a Democratic governor following more than a decade with unchallenged control.

After 14 years of Senate-House-governor trifectas, GOP lawmakers found themselves navigating an unfamiliar landscape in 2023 after the election of Gov. Katie Hobbs.

Hobbs ended up vetoing a record 143 bills during the first session of Arizona’s 56th Legislature, blowing by Democrat Janet Napolitano’s 2006 mark of 58.

Republicans are sure to see more pushback on hot-button topics such as school vouchers and election reform during the upcoming session, which starts in January.

How do Arizona Senate Republicans plan to address budget deficit?

Hobbs and Republicans were able to agree this year on a budget that didn’t increase spending levels, but the state wound up with a projected $400 million deficit, in part because of lower-than-expected income tax revenues.

Balancing the budget without tapping into the state’s Rainy Day Fund or using “gimmicks” is the first item listed on the 2024 GOP plan.

“Fortunately, the spending for the most part is one time, which makes the fix a lot easier,” Sen. John Kavanagh said during a press conference Thursday. “It’s not something we have to worry about going out numerous years. There are a lot of places to cut money.”

Kavanagh didn’t cite specific targets for cuts, but mentioned “existing programs” as well as approved road projects that can’t be started due to worker shortages.

“These are all manageable and it’s not a cliff, and anybody who starts screaming it’s a cliff is doing it for political purposes,” he said.

“And they can play that game, but overall they’re going to be sending a very negative message out to the business community who we rely on to continue investing in Arizona because of the friendly climate that we’ve created and giving us more tax revenue.”

What other priorities are part of the 2024 GOP legislative plan?

In addition to the budget, the 2024 GOP plan highlights 10 areas: inflation relief, law enforcement and military, education, water, infrastructure, health care, government size, judiciary, election integrity and litigation to defend state laws.

“Moving into 2024, we will remain laser focused on easing the burden of rising costs for our citizens while continuing to stop the dangerous California-style policies from being implemented in Arizona,” Senate Majority Whip Sonny Borelli said in a video posted to social media Thursday.

“We will remain unified in protecting our freedoms and constitutional rights, advocating for family values and safe communities, promoting free-market principles and limited government.”

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Arizona Senate Republicans release majority plan for 2024 legislative session