Gov. tightens budget belt - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Localnews

Gov. tightens budget belt

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Posted: Monday, December 21, 2009 12:00 am

After lawmakers cut $194 million out of Arizona’s $1.6 billion deficit over the weekend, Gov. Jan Brewer did a little more belt tightening on Monday, announcing a series of budget changes, including preparing the way for the possibility of 5 percent pay cuts for some state workers.

"I applaud her for her efforts. That’s just what she should be doing," said Rep. John McComish (R-Ahwatukee Foothills), the House Majority Leader.

Other actions include:

• Illegal immigrants being held for non-violent crimes in state prisons will be turned over the federal government to save money.

• School districts and universities will have payments deferred.

• Funds for non-mandatory services will be transferred to make sure there is enough money for mandatory services.

• Sliding fee schedules will be implemented for state services.

Brewer also said she will meet with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle in the first week of the new year for solutions to the state’s current shortfall and for the projected $3.3 billion shortfall in next year’s budget.

If the meeting takes place, it will be the first time Democrats have sat with Republicans to discuss bi-partisan solutions.

The budget crisis has grown to the point if all non federal or voter-mandated services were eliminated, including courts, public safety, parks, environmental protection and the Legislature, the state would still be short of cash.

"I also applaud her for the efforts to get the people to understand the dire straights we are in," McComish said. "We are not going to be able to cut our way out of this dilemma. We need to find some creative ways for additional revenues."

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