TEMPE - Gov. Jan Brewer is defending the newest plan to balance this year's budget, even though it's composed entirely of the same kind of accounting maneuvers she said got Arizona into its current financial mess.
Brewer said she would have preferred that lawmakers had adopted her proposal to plug the $1.4 billion hole that remains in the budget by raising sales taxes, enacting a new levy on repair services, making some spending cuts and cutting state employees' salaries by 5 percent.
What the Senate passed - and what is scheduled for a House vote on Tuesday - includes $750 million in long-term borrowing and deferring $450 million in payments until the next fiscal year. The deferral includes some of what the state owes to schools this year.
The House and Senate did agree to ask voters if they would support a tax increase. But that won't come quickly enough to make a dent in the current budget.
And the plan includes no spending reductions. That leaves only borrowing.
Last year, Brewer said she was not willing to do short- or long-term borrowing, which Janet Napolitano, her predecessor, was pushing just days before she quit to join the Obama administration as head of the Department of Homeland Security.
"If you're thinking that we're going to borrow ourselves out of this crisis that we're in, that isn't going to happen," Brewer said at the time. "It's borrowing that got us into the crisis that we're in."
However, Brewer said recently that the refusal by lawmakers to adopt the plan she proposed means she has to accept the legislative alternative.
"We've got to move forward," Brewer said. "We have got to balance the budget the best way we know how," she continued, adding, "Of course, it's not the best way to do business."
It remains unclear whether the votes are there in the House for the $1.2 billion in borrowing. The sticking point for some Republicans is that the borrowing is not matched by new spending cuts. Most Democrats are likely to go along.
"It's borrowing that got us into the crisis that we're in."
Gov. Jan Brewer,
speaking last year about Arizona's budget crisis