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The Latest: Lawmakers pass $11.8 billion Arizona budget

May 28, 2019

PHOENIX (AP) — The Latest on action at the Arizona Legislature as members rush to adjourn for the year (all times local):

9:15 p.m.

Arizona has a new $11.8 billion budget after lawmakers overcame tense infighting among Republicans, who hold narrow majorities in the House and Senate.

Budget bills passed the Senate Monday night after clearing the House on Saturday.

The budget for the year beginning July 1 uses a surplus to boost savings, give raises to police officers and prison guards and increase school funding.

It also cuts about $325 million in taxes to offset higher revenue the state anticipates from changes in federal law and from taxing more online sales. That was a point of contention for Democrats who say the money should be spent on needs like schools and infrastructure.

Disputes among Republicans over the tax cut package and the rights of child sex-abuse victims to sue their assailants delayed budget votes for days.

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8:20 p.m.

A proposal to triple the amount lawmakers get for expenses is headed to Gov. Doug Ducey.

The House and Senate approved the measure in bipartisan votes Monday evening.

Lawmakers say it’s been years since they raised what they receive for expenses each day they work at the Legislature. They say rural lawmakers especially are under-compensated for their costs of traveling and to and staying in Phoenix during the legislative session. They also note that federal tax law changes eliminated many expense write-offs.

The House vote was 37-23 and the Senate vote 22-7.

Lawmakers earn $24,000 a year, plus a daily stipend of $60 for rural lawmakers and $35 for Maricopa County residents. The measure would raise the amount for expenses to $185 a day and half that for Phoenix-area residents.

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6:55 p.m.

The Arizona Senate has rejected a $2.5 million program to promote childbirth over abortion.

Monday evening’s vote was a rare defeat for the influential social conservative group Center for Arizona Policy.

Republican Sens. Kate Brophy McGee and Heather Carter joined all Democrats in opposition. They cited the earlier rejection of state money for the 211 hotline that refers callers to a wide range of public services. Anti-abortion lawmakers have rejected that funding because a handful of callers sought referrals to abortion providers.

Center for Arizona Policy director Cathi Herrod has said she hoped Arizona could create a program similar to one in Texas that she says successfully reduced abortions.

Democrats say the legislation was a backdoor way to fund “crisis pregnancy centers” that discourage women from having an abortion.

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6:40 p.m.

The Arizona Senate has approved a proposal that would triple the amount lawmakers get for expenses for each day they work as the Legislature rushes to finish its yearly session.

The Senate approved the measure Monday evening on a bi-partisan 22-7 vote. The House has a similar measure ready for a vote.

Lawmakers in both parties back the proposal, saying rural lawmakers especially are under-compensated for their costs of traveling to and staying in Phoenix during the session. They also note that federal tax law changes eliminated many expense write-offs.

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5:45 p.m.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has signed legislation increasing the amount of time that childhood sex assault victims can sue their alleged attackers.

The proposal had deadlocked the Legislature for weeks and prevented action on a state budget. A compromise finally reached over the weekend led to Monday’s unanimous House and Senate votes. Ducey signed it about an hour later.

The measure gives victims until age 30 to sue instead of age 20. It also opens a “window” for people currently barred from suing to file until December 2020 but increases the standard of proof they must have.

Republican Sen. Heather Carter says she has been threatened for her refusal not to back a budget until the bill passed.

GOP Sen. Eddie Farnsworth had opposed the measure over concerns innocent people could be accused decades after an alleged incident.

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5:20 p.m.

The Arizona Senate has approved the first of 11 bills that make up an $11.8 billion state spending plan for the budget year that begins July 1 and was on track to pass the rest.

Monday’s 16-13 vote was along party lines, with all but one Republican in support and Democrats opposed. The budget passed the House just before dawn Saturday on a strict party-line vote.

Senate President Karen Fann says Republicans and Democrats should be proud of the budget.

It includes more money for K-12 schools, a raise for teachers, raises for corrections and state police officers and more money for selected social programs. But it also contains $386 million in tax and fee cuts that Democrats say bypasses the state’s need to fully fund schools.

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4:30 p.m.

The Arizona House has joined the Senate in approving legislation increasing the amount of time that childhood sex assault victims can sue their alleged attackers.

The proposal had deadlocked the Legislature for weeks and prevented action on a state budget. A compromise finally reached over the weekend led to Monday’s unanimous votes. Gov. Doug Ducey tweeted that he planned to sign the legislation .

The measure gives victims until age 30 to sue instead of age 20. It also opens a “window” for people currently barred from suing to file until December 2020 but increases the standard of proof they must have.

Republican Sen. Heather Carter says she has been threatened for her refusal not to back a budget until the bill passed.

GOP Sen. Eddie Farnsworth had opposed the measure over concerns innocent people could be accused decades after an alleged incident.

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3:25 p.m.

The Arizona Senate has approved legislation increasing the amount of time that childhood sex assault victims can sue their alleged attackers.

The proposal had deadlocked the Legislature for weeks and prevented action on a state budget. A compromise finally reached over the weekend led the way for Monday’s 29-0 vote.

The measure now heading to the House give victims until age 30 to sue instead of age 20. It also opens a “window” for people currently barred from suing to file until December 2020 but increases the standard of proof they must have.

Republican Sen. Heather Carter says she has been threatened for her refusal not to back a budget until the bill passed.

GOP Sen. Eddie Farnsworth had opposed the measure over concerns innocent people could be accused decades after an allege incident. He says no one wants to protect child abusers and that the compromise protects both sides.

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2:30 p.m.

The Arizona Senate has approved a House bill cutting sales taxes farmers pay for fertilizer and pesticides.

The proposal approved Monday on a 17-12 vote would cost the state about $15 million a year and is being pushed by Republican Rep. Tim Dunn, a Yuma farmer. Dunn says Arizona is one of just two states that tax those items.

The state has levied taxes on the products since the state sales tax was put in place in the 1930s. Democrats oppose the measure as a special interest tax cut pushed by a company that lost a court case where it sought an exemption.

Democratic Sen. Martin Quezada said Monday the company then moved to the Legislature to get its way and says the measure gives a deal to a company that doesn’t want to pay its share of taxes.

Dunn says the products are a cost of production that shouldn’t be taxes.

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12:45 p.m.

The Arizona House Rules Committee killed and then revived a proposal that would triple the amount lawmakers get for expenses for each day they work as the Legislature rushes to finish its yearly session.

The appropriations committee passed the measure on a 9-1 vote late Monday morning. Minutes later, the measure failed to get a majority of Rules Committee members who normally rubber-stamp bills. About an hour later, the panel took a second vote with one opponent absent, sending the measure to the full House.

The Senate has an identical measure ready for a vote.

Lawmakers in both parties back the proposal, saying rural lawmakers especially are under-compensated for their costs of traveling to and staying in Phoenix during the session. They also note that federal tax law changes eliminated many expense write-offs.

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11:35 a.m.

The Arizona House Rules Committee has killed a proposal that would triple the amount lawmakers get for expenses for each day they work as the Legislature rushes to finish its yearly session.

The appropriations committee passed the measure on a 9-1 vote late Monday morning. Minutes later, the measure failed to get a majority of Rules Committee members who normally rubber-stamp bills. The measure could still be revived, but that appears unlikely.

Lawmakers in both parties back the proposal, saying rural lawmakers especially are under-compensated for their costs of traveling to and staying in Phoenix during the session. They also note that federal tax law changes eliminated many expense write-offs.

Lawmakers earn $24,000 a year, plus a daily expense stipend that currently is $60 for rural lawmakers and $35 for Maricopa County residents. Expense pay would rise to $185 a day and half that for Phoenix-area residents.

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11:20 a.m.

An Arizona House panel has advanced a proposal that would triple the amount lawmakers get for expenses for each day they work as the Legislature rushes to finish its yearly session.

The appropriations committee passed the measure Monday and it now goes to the full House. The Senate could vote on identical legislation Monday.

Lawmakers in both parties back the proposal, saying rural lawmakers especially are under-compensated for their costs of traveling to and staying in Phoenix during the session. They also note that federal tax law changes eliminated many expense write-offs.

Lawmakers earn $24,000 a year, plus a daily expense stipend that currently is $60 for rural lawmakers and $35 for Maricopa County residents. Expense pay would rise to $185 a day and half that for Phoenix-area residents.

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