Ariz. Senate OKs Republican budget-balancing plan

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PHOENIX (AP) -- The Arizona Senate voted along party lines Friday, approving a Republican budget-balancing plan that cuts spending for health care, education and other services to close a shortfall without resorting to additional borrowing.

The House approved the bills earlier Friday and Senate approval completed legislative action on the package negotiated by Republican legislative leaders and Republican Gov. Jan Brewer.

Republicans said the plan provides the state with an honest budget that eschews borrowing and gimmicks previously used to help balance recent budgets during Arizona's budget crisis.   

Democrats and advocates for education and social services criticized the budget and the process that led to its approval within a day of its unveiling Thursday afternoon.

Senate President Russell Pearce issued this statement:

"Today the Arizona State Senate passed a balanced budget and sent it to the Governor. The Senate budget used no gimmicks, no new rollovers and no borrowing.

This fulfills a commitment our leadership team made to the people of Arizona. I know our Members faced difficult decisions. The budget reductions they supported are reasonable. By balancing the budget now, we don't pass the buck to future generations.

For years, the Legislature has played games with the Arizona budget. Those games ended today, and our state has a brighter future because of the votes of our Republican caucus."