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The Latest: Arizona House backs GOP tax overhaul

May 25, 2019
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Two Republican holdouts on a proposed Arizona state budget, Senators Paul Boyer, left, and J.D. Mesnard confer on the Senate floor during a break in the action in Phoenix, Ariz., Friday, May 24, 2019. Republicans who control the state legislature are trying to wrangle enough support from holdouts like Boyer and Mesnard to pass the deal the $11.8 billion state budget package they negotiated with GOP Gov. Doug Ducey. Arizona House lawmakers worked into the early morning Friday to pass several bills that are part of the state budget before calling it a night while the Senate took the night off because it lacked the votes to enact budget legislation. (AP Photo/Bob Christie)

PHOENIX (AP) — The Latest on action in the Arizona Legislature on a state budget (all times local):

11 p.m.

The Arizona House has approved more than $300 million in tax cuts to offset higher revenue the state expects to see.

Republicans approved the measure late Friday in a party-line vote. It’s part of an $11.8 billion budget for the year beginning July 1.

The GOP plan would lower personal income tax rates, merge the two lowest tax brackets and increase the standard deduction, which lowers taxable income. Republicans say the changes are crucial to ensure taxpayers don’t see a tax increase from changes in federal law or a move to tax more online sales.

Democrats say the state needs that money for schools, roads, housing and other needs.

The measure goes next to the Senate.

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9:30 p.m.

The Arizona Senate has adjourned for the night without acting on a state budget as it remains short of Republican votes to pass the plan without Democratic support.

The House remained in session as Senate President Karen Fann told members late Friday to return at 10 a.m. Saturday and that “maybe we can start voting on some budget bills if at all possible.”

That remains unlikely unless a deal is struck with holdouts including Republican Sens. Paul Boyer and J.D. Mesnard. Boyer said no deal on the budget is in sight.

Boyer and Sen. Heather Carter want to see more time for child sex assault victims to sue. Mesnard wants changes to a tax overhaul package.

The House is voting on some parts of the $11.8 billion budget package negotiated between Fann, House Speaker Rusty Bowers and Gov. Doug Ducey.

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8 p.m.

Two Republican senators whose votes are key to passing a state budget say they remain opposed to the deal championed by GOP leaders and Gov. Doug Ducey.

Sens. J.D. Mesnard and Paul Boyer said Friday evening their opposition remains intact. They are among a handful of majority Republicans who have problems with the agreement and have stalled Senate action on the legislation for days.

The House appears to have the 31 votes needed to pass the budget without support from minority Democrats. They oppose the measure for various reasons.

Mesnard wants changes to a tax overhaul plan in the $11.8 billion spending plan. Boyer wants the Legislature to increase the time child sex assault victims have to sue.

Senate President Karen Fann says she is “bound and determined” to try and get a budget out tonight.

6:50 p.m.

Arizona Senate President Karen Fann says legislative leaders are still negotiating a few items but “we are bound and determined to try and get a budget out tonight if possible.”

Fann’s comments Friday evening came after House Speaker Rusty Bowers left negotiations, let out a whoop as he crossed a courtyard and then called the House into session.

The Arizona House then started debating budget bills again after a day of inaction. The lower chamber had passed three budget bills in a session that ended at 2 a.m. Friday but made no progress through the day.

The issue is a handful of holdout Republican senators. With no Democratic support the Senate needs 16 or 17 GOP members to back the deal Bowers and Fann negotiated with Gov. Doug Ducey.

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6:45 p.m.

The Arizona House has started debating budget bills again after a day of inaction but it remains unclear if the Senate had a deal to do the same.

The action Friday evening could set the state for adoption of an $11.8 billion state spending plan for the budget year that starts July 1.

House Speaker Rusty Bowers let out a whoop as he left meeting in the old Capitol near sundown and headed to the House to begin debate. The House had passed three budget bills in a session that ended at 2 a.m. Friday but made no progress through the day.

The issue is a handful of holdout Republican senators. With no Democratic support the Senate needs 16 or 17 GOP members to back the deal Bowers, Gov. Doug Ducey and Senate President Karen Fann negotiated.

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1 p.m.

Senate President Karen Fann says there’s still isn’t a deal to bring enough holdout Republican senators on board to pass a budget she and House Speaker Rusty Bowers negotiated with Gov. Doug Ducey.

Fann said Friday that negotiations are ongoing to resolve the issues raised by a handful of majority Republicans and break the Senate logjam.

The GOP-controlled House passed three of the budget bills overnight before adjourning at about 2 a.m. Democrats oppose the $11.8 billion spending plan so all but one Republican needs to support it for it to pass the Legislature.

Issues among senators include how a $325 million tax cut package is structured, spending priorities that didn’t make the cut and extending the time child sex assault victims can sue.

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7 a.m.

The Arizona House worked into the early morning to pass several bills that are part of the $11.8 billion state budget package before calling it a night.

The House and Senate both plan to return late Friday morning to continue working on the budget that has solid majority Republican support in the House but falls far short of enough GOP backing for the Senate to act. Minority Democrats don’t support the GOP plan.

Republican holdouts who forced a delay in Senate action Thursday led to anger among GOP House members that was caught on an open mic during a closed caucus meeting Thursday evening. Reps. Ben Toma and Kelly Townsend threatened to retaliate against two GOP senators who don’t support the budget.

The House worked until about 2 a.m. Friday.

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