WASHINGTON — Arizona lawmakers have been scrambling to pass a budget bill that includes $200 million to pay for the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Doug Ducey and his GOP colleagues say they’ve secured a $200-million emergency fund for the police department and $200.4 million for a fund for public schools, both of which were set aside for this year.
The emergency fund is being used to pay the salaries of more than 300 police officers.
But some conservatives have slammed the money as a waste of taxpayers’ money.
They say the money should have been earmarked for other priorities.
The Legislature is scheduled to vote on the state budget Tuesday, and Duceys budget plan includes $4.8 billion for schools, $500 million for roads and $600 million for state parks.
But Republicans say they have a different plan that will get the state through the winter and help the state stay afloat through a major financial crisis.
Republicans say they’ll put $150 million toward police salaries and pay for road projects, but not for road repairs.
That’s a departure from previous budget plans that called for $100 million in roads funds and a $500-million public school budget.
Republican state Sen. Kevin McCutcheon, R-Pasadena, says the new proposal will be a better plan than previous ones that have been rejected by lawmakers.
It will give us more money to fix our roads, but we can’t spend it on police,” he said.
I don’t know how we can pay for it,” he told KPHO. “
This is a waste.
I don’t know how we can pay for it,” he told KPHO.
“We can’t afford it.
We have no money for it.”
The state is set to face a $1.2 billion budget deficit in 2018.
That would be the biggest in the nation.
But Duceies administration says its plan is better than the current one, and that the state will get back to $1 billion by the end of the year.
But some Republicans say Duceie is just trying to save face with voters.
“He wants to make sure that he’s the only one that’s talking about spending money, and the only other one that will have to do that is the governor,” said state Rep. David Jones, R of Chandler.