Arizona lawmakers nearing budget deal

2014-03-20T09:53:00Z 2014-03-20T09:59:40Z Arizona lawmakers nearing budget dealBy Howard Fischer Capitol Media Services Arizona Daily Star

PHOENIX — Senate Republican leaders have agreed to give Gov. Jan Brewer much of what she wants in a spending plan to avoid a gridlock on the new budget.

The deal, set for a Senate vote today, restores funding to implement testing for the new Common Core requirements that the governor has championed. GOP opponents of the standards, unable to kill them, had proposed simply not funding the program.

Senate President Andy Biggs said the final deal also adds in some other dollars for K-12 education to bring the numbers more in line with Brewer's proposal. And some of that is earmarked for the governor's "performance funding" plan where additional aid to schools is linked to how much student achievement improves from year to year.

Potentially more significant for Brewer, the Senate plan provides $20 million in one-time funds to convert the old Child Protective Services to a new, independent agency, one of the governor's key priorities.

That is less than the $25 million Brewer originally had requested. But it is far more than the $5 million that had been offered by the Senate Republicans.

Overall, the plan adds about $100 million to what the Senate GOP had proposed earlier this week.

There are other beneficiaries from the changes. That includes the state's three universities which will split $3 million in funds to make needed repairs to buildings.

There also is more than $4.1 million for rural community colleges. And the plan gives $1.4 million to the Maricopa system and $600,000 to Pima, both of which got no new funds under the original Senate plan.

Other additions to funding include:

•$3 million for adult protective services, double the original proposal;

• $300,000 for the Arizona Commerce Authority to open an office in Mexico City;

• $500,000 for the Teach for America program.

Democrats attempted to add additional funding, without success, such as a proposal to create a special office to lure producers of movies, commercials and industrial films and video to Arizona.

Biggs said the deal followed late-night negotiations Wednesday.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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