Arizona Senate disarray extends special session

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UPDATE:

PHOENIX -- The Arizona Legislature is extending its special session after the Senate narrowly rejected a bill to cut funding for K-12 schools and Department of Economic Security social programs.

After Thursday's voting, the Senate adjourned until Monday, and the House then did the same.

Majority Republicans were caught off-guard when they fell one vote short of passing the spending cuts bill.

That was with one Republican absent on a preplanned cruise, another voting against the bill because he objects to fee increases in another bill, and a third whose absence was unexplained.

Senate Democrats voted solidly against the spending cut bill, saying cuts are needed but only as part of a more comprehensive budget-balancing approach.

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

 

ORIGINAL REPORT:

PHOENIX -- Arizona legislators hope to conclude a special session Thursday, with House and Senate voting scheduled on bills to close about a quarter of the state's $2 billion midyear budget shortfall.

The Senate on Wednesday gave preliminary approval to three budget bills that include $292 million in spending cuts for K-12 schools' equipment purchases and Department of Economic Security social services. Other budget changes in the bills take the total impact of the package to an estimated $462 million.

The House took Wednesday off and plans to hold a committee hearing on the legislation this morning before debate and formal voting by the entire chamber. The special session began Tuesday.

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