May 25,2019 | TRIADVOCATES
1. No cheap dates at 1700 W. Washington. Deal-making and horse trading are standard fare at the Arizona State Capitol. However, this time of year, it rises to an entirely new level. Getting 31, 16 and 1 (31 votes in the House, 16 votes in the Senate and one signature from the governor) on a state budget is no easy feat and legislators know their votes are valuable. Some members are demanding more funding for key projects (i.e., low-income housing), votes on bills that have died in the process (i.e., child predator offenses) or even new proposals that haven’t been discussed (i.e., increase in legislative per diem) in exchange for a “yes” vote on the budget package. Leadership must demonstrate master puzzle-solving skills and have saint-like patience to try and appease the many different requests. Since they don’t have the necessary votes yet, there will likely be a couple more side deals before it’s all over.
2. Sleep? What’s that? The House voted its final budget bill just before 5 a.m. this morning, making it the chamber’s second all-nighter in a row. There was no shortage of theatrics on the floor, as Democrats (unsuccessfully) attempted to introduce dozens of amendments, sparking contentious debates in opposition to the overall spending package. In the final hours of the marathon budget session, House Republicans introduced a substantive amendment proposing funding for numerous “going-home” issues for specific members—a last-ditch effort to gain support from several Republicans who haven’t budged since negotiations started weeks ago. All eyes are now on the Senate, which reconvened at 10 a.m. this morning but spent most of the day in recess and finally adjourned at 6 p.m. after failing to reach a deal on the $11.8 billion spending plan. Senate leadership has struggled to secure votes from three members in particular and needs two of the three holdouts to acquiesce, assuming all other GOP members are on board. If those three legislators continue to hold their ground, Republican leadership will need to seriously start shopping for votes from the Democrats, which will be a difficult and costly challenge. Amid all this uncertainty, we know one thing is for sure: policymakers, legislative staff and lobbyists have new plans for Memorial Day—the House and Senate will reconvene at 10 and 11 a.m., respectively, on Monday.
3. Close(r), but (still) no cigar. While the Senate Republicans still don’t have the votes needed to get the budget done, a proposed spending package went through the Appropriations Committees in both chambers earlier this week. The House GOP advanced the budget on a party-line vote, while, in the Senate, a Republican member joined Democrats on the committee in opposing the package. The plan essentially serves as a “nearly-final” draft and is further amended on the floor as part of the negotiating process (to secure votes from members who have indicated that their vote is contingent upon specific policy or funding issues). Here’s a highlight of the budget package introduced earlier this week:
- Tax Conformity & Wayfair: $386 million offsets in the tax package
- Education: $175 million for formula funding for growth and inflation
- Education: $165 million to fund the next 5% of the teacher pay raise
- Education: $136 million for additional assistance
- Education: $15 million ongoing in school safety grant funding that lets schools choose to hire counselors or School Resource Officers (SROs)
- Education: $68 million ongoing for results-based funding
- Education: $10 million over two years starting in FY 2021 for $1,000 Career Technical Education (CTE) Certification incentive bonuses
- Education: $15 million for Pima Community College for the aviation technology program
- $15 million to restore funds to the Housing Trust Fund for affordable housing and homelessness services
- $10 million for the State Aviation Fund to support airport infrastructure across Arizona
4. Signed, sealed, delivered...but don't forget to include your circulator registration number before you seal it or send it. While the spotlight was on budget bills in the House last night, Republicans also pushed through a measure that will add strict restrictions and requirements on petition circulators who gather signatures for citizens’ initiatives in Arizona. Sponsored by Sen. Vince Leach, SB 1451 (procedures; nomination petitions; registered circulators), passed the House on a party-line vote and is now on the desk of Gov. Doug Ducey, who is expected to sign it.
5. There’s a new sheriff in town… Following a May 21 runoff election, the City of Phoenix has brand new council members in Districts 5 and 8. In District 5, Betty Guardado – a union organizer and vice president of Unite Here Local 11, a union of hospitality workers – unseated interim Councilwoman Vania Guevara with 62% of the vote. In District 8, Carlos Garcia – a longtime local activist and executive director of Puente Arizona, a grassroots group promoting migrant justice and human rights – defeated Mike Johnson with 51% of the vote. Neither Guardado nor Garcia has held public elected office before. Guardado, who will be replacing former mayoral candidate Daniel Valenzuela, will serve until April 2021, and Garcia, who will replace current Mayor Kate Gallego, will serve until April 2023.
Painful words that mean there's still no budget deal:
"The Senate will recess until the sound of the gavel..."
Magical words for anyone whose life revolves around the Legislature when it is in session, sine die (pronounced “sign-ee die”) is a Latin term that means “without a day" and signifies that the legislative body has completed its work for the year. During session, the Legislature ends each day’s proceedings with regular adjournment, which sets the date for the next meeting. Adjournment sine die marks the end of the legislative session because it does not set a time for reconvening, thus terminating all unfinished business.
"What is your sine die prediction? There's no way it could possibly be after Memorial Day, right?"