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Hobbs on Arizona budget talks: ‘still early’

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(The Center Square) – Arizona Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs will be using her pen, and likely a veto stamp, in due time.

The biggest political battle in Phoenix is typically the budget, which has to reach a compromise of the divided government to avert a shutdown at the end of June.

“It is still early, and I released my budget in January. Happy to start that conversation anytime,” Hobbs told reporters on Tuesday at an event on KidCare expansion in Glendale.

In 2023, Hobbs vetoed a budget that was modeled similarly to a budget signed the year prior by her predecessor, Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, The Center Square reported in 2023.

Ultimately, she ended up signing a budget negotiated with Republican leaders in the legislature in May.

“While it isn’t perfect, this budget is an important step towards making housing more affordable, building more roads, bridges and broadband access, expanding children’s health insurance, and investing in our public schools,” Hobbs said in a statement at the time.

As for this year, her executive budget was quickly declared “dead on arrival” by a number of Republican lawmakers, with proposed restrictions on the Empowerment Scholarship Account program being one of the biggest points of contention.

Regardless, the biggest question looms about the state’s deficit as well as contributing factors, as the Joint Legislative Budget Committee estimates an $835 million shortfall in fiscal year 2024 and slightly higher the following year.

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