AZ lawmakers' efforts to balance state budget stalled

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Special session had been called

PHOENIX - The efforts to balance our state budget seem to have stalled after many promises and negotiations.

It has been a tumultuous day at the State Capital. The action has been outside with thousands of students protesting as well as behind closed doors where there has been a lot of arm-twisting as the republican leadership try to hammer out a budget. 3TV tried all afternoon to get GOP response, but to no avail.

Not all the commotion outside the Capital was outside. There was plenty going on inside as well. Republican legislative leaders thought they had a budget agreement worked out Tuesday night and asked Gov. Brewer to call a special legislative session for Wednesday.

Rep. David Lujan says, "Since we haven't heard from Gov. Brewer yet in terms of a special session I think that tells us that the Republicans don't have the votes necessary to get a budget out."< /p>

There are enough Republicans in both the House and Senate to agree with student protestors that cuts to education are much too severe and there are also enough to scuttle the budget favored by leadership.

There are also a significant number of lawmakers, principally Democrats, who want to wait for the anticipated $600 million in federal economic stimulus funds before balancing the budget.

"That's gonna go a long-ways towards erasing some of the needs for some of thesecuts that are being proposed and will really help us to save healthcare and education in Arizona," explains Rep. Lujan.

The governor's office has indicated that a special session will not be called until a budget agreement has been reached.

That has not happened, at least not yet, and time is running out on leadership's self-imposed deadline of February 1. They had hoped to erase a $1.6 billion budget deficit for this fiscal year before beginning on next year's budget, which is anticipated to have a deficit of more than $3 billion.