House speaker has deal with Brewer for budget, Senate president Biggs wary - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

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House speaker has deal with Brewer for budget, Senate president Biggs wary

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Posted: Friday, April 4, 2014 7:00 am

House Speaker Andy Tobin said Thursday he and Gov. Jan Brewer have reached a deal on a new state budget.

But Senate President Andy Biggs said he won't try to sell it to his members – much less vote for it –until he sees all the details in writing.

Tobin said the plan restores the full $5.5 million in funding for the state's three universities sought by the House. It also includes a requirement that the state's Medicaid program pay for insulin pumps for patients with diabetes.

But there amount of additional funds for district-run charter schools is now set at $25 million for the coming year. That's far more than total elimination originally proposed by Biggs but less than the $33 million the schools would get normally – and the amount the House wants.

Also gone from the House proposals are efforts to have the Medicaid program cover care by chiropractors and podiatrists.

The bottom line if this becomes the deal would be a state budget of $9.23 billion for the coming year. That's far below the $9.36 billion Brewer requested in January, but also far higher than the $9.13 billion Biggs and Senate leadership first offered.

Biggs said he is not necessarily saying “no” to the plan, but he said that, at this point, he has little more than numbers on a piece of paper. And he said it is up to Tobin to be more specific.

“What I told him is, ‘You get your votes, you get your amendment language, please get it to us so we can see what it looks like and the impacts it has,’” Biggs said. “And then we'll shop it to our members.”

The Republicans who control the Senate have moved from their original proposal. But their last offer is still $20 million below what Tobin said he and the governor want.

There's another issue that goes beyond money.

The deal contains less money than Brewer wants for the new Division of Child Safety and Family Services, but the governor and House members are willing to go along as long as there is a firm commitment to revisit the issue next month after a report on how that organization should be set up.

Biggs, however, has been loath to make any promises of new funding.

Gubernatorial press aide Andrew Wilder would not comment on any deal.

The Legislature is not set to convene today meaning the earliest a deal can be considered is Monday.

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