Brewer halts budget talks until lawmakers address her priorities - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

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Brewer halts budget talks until lawmakers address her priorities

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Posted: Thursday, February 23, 2012 10:01 am

Gov. Jan Brewer is going to give state lawmakers the silent treatment until she gets her way -- or at least some of it -- in the budget.

Press aide Matthew Benson said Wednesday that Brewer told her budget staff not to sit down again with legislative counterparts "until the Legislature amends its proposal and makes some good-faith efforts to reflect some of the priorities and concerns that the governor's made clear.''

But legislative leaders showed no sign of backing down, at least not yet. And at this point they remain on track for pursuing the plan approved Tuesday by the House and Senate Appropriations committees.

A vote could come as early as this coming week.

Benson said there had been talks over a legislative "framework'' for a spending plan for the coming year. But it was only on Monday when the Republican leadership decided to push ahead and demand the first vote on that plan less than 24 hours later.

Missing, he said, was a laundry list of Brewer's priorities, ranging from $100 million for books and supplies for public schools and $50 million for a new maximum security prison to $700,000 for additional investigators to look into complaints of teacher misconduct.

"The governor doesn't believe at this point it would be productive for her budget team to sit down with legislative budget staffers until some of these significant differences are addressed,'' Benson said.

He acknowledged that one way of resolving differences is through negotiations. But Benson said this is a two-way street.

"Your proposal needs to be at least a good-faith proposal or else we're just wasting everybody's time,'' he said.

Anyway, Benson pointed out that some question remains whether there actually are the votes for the plan. During Tuesday's hearings, several Republican legislators said they like one or more elements of Brewer's plan more than what their own leaders want.

Benson said it could take a while before talks restart. But he said Brewer is patient.

"We have time,'' he said, as the new fiscal year does not begin until July 1.

"The governor's not going anywhere,'' Benson continued. "We'll be here.''

That last point is only partly true: Brewer was leaving for the National Governor's Association Thursday and is not due back until Monday.

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