Gov. Brewer signs bills to close Ariz. budget gap

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PHOENIX (AP) -- UPDATE: Gov. Jan Brewer on Saturday signed bills passed by the Republican-led Legislature to close Arizona's nearly $1.6-billion midyear shortfall by cutting spending, sweeping dollars from special-purpose funds and using federal stimulus money.

The Senate approved the six-bill package late Friday night, and the House followed suit early Saturday morning.

Brewer's spokesman announced the signing about eight hours after the final legislative action. The Republican governor earlier thanked the Legislature for fixing a budget that she said included unrealistic spending and was "built on the false hope of increasing state revenues."

Tax collections have been hammered by the recession and the housing industry's collapse.

ORIGINAL: Arizona legislators reported back to the Capitol for a rare Friday workday and are again considering a Republican plan to close the projected $1.6 billion shortfall in the state's $9.9 billion budget.

Late Friday night session

The latest development is that Gov. Jan Brewer has presented lawmakers with $18.3 million of changes that she wants, mostly restoration of cuts proposed by lawmakers for social programs and health care. Brewer also proposes cuts and sweeps from special-purpose funds to make up for the restored spending.

The Republicans' plan includes spending cuts throughout the state government as well as taking dollars from special-purpose funds and using federal stimulus funds.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)