A ban on “biased teaching”. More tax money shared by the state with the cities. A 17% reduction in road surfacing projects.
These are all sweeteners meant to win the support of Republican lawmakers for a stalled $ 13 billion budget that includes a lump sum income tax that would make a permanent $ 1.9 billion a year reduction in government revenues. State to State.
The dozens of amendments come as the House meets on Monday in a bid to relaunch the budget and enact it ahead of the looming June 30 deadline.
Among the dozens of proposed amendments, there is one that would restore the Key provisions of a bill that died 10 days ago in the Senate: Fines of up to $ 5,000 for teachers discussing “controversial issues of public policy or social affairs” that are not the core of the course material, and a requirement that if such topics are discussed, The teacher must give equal weight to all points of view.
The budget debate came to a halt just before Memorial Day weekend, prompting a deal to pause while legislative leaders work behind the scenes to rally all Republican members.
Democrats are united in their opposition to the plan, which they deem “irresponsible and unsustainable”.
Every GOP vote is necessary, given the tightly divided partisan makeup of the legislature. At the end of last week, legislative leaders said they were not sure they had the votes.
But in the House, Majority Leader Ben Toma R-Peoria said it was time for members to take a public stand by voting for or against the budget, noting that a budget must be in place. here July 1. The Senate has not indicated when it will resume budget debate.
New provisions in the state budget
The amendments are designed to rally reluctant lawmakers. They include:
- Increase the amount of income tax that the state shares with cities and towns to 17%. The current level is 15%, under the terms of a 1972 election initiative that granted local governments a cut in state revenues in exchange for a promise not to create local income taxes.
The League of Arizona Cities and Towns said the 2 percentage point hike was not enough to protect cities from the loss of revenue the flat tax would cause. Several lawmakers, especially in rural areas, have said more needs to be done to protect towns and villages.
The league suggested that an 18% share might work.
- A ban on local governments from imposing mask warrants. This would reverse in the current budget which would give school boards the power to establish mask protocols. A number of conservative lawmakers have bristled against this provision, echoing a nationwide push against mask requirements established to protect against the spread of COVID-19.
- Local governments are prohibited from issuing “vaccine passports” or requiring anyone to be vaccinated. It would exempt health establishments from the vaccine requirement. A separate amendment would allow state universities to require proof of vaccination for anyone taking classes at a health care facility or participating in research and testing involving COVID-19.
- A 17.5%, or $ 19 million, reduction in funding for road paving projects. The amendment erases specific projects outlined in the current budget bill and states that the reduced $ 90 million must go to roads that are in fair to poor condition in rural Arizona. All of the projects in the current bill are in rural Arizona.
The amendment also limits work to projects that are not part of the state’s transportation department’s five-year plan, presumably to ensure that the money goes to projects that are not already approved.
- An additional $ 35 million payment to reduce K-12 turnover. The $ 930 million rollover is a budget maneuver that delays payment of the final budget year to schools to the first month of the new fiscal year that begins July 1. The deficit hawks have complained about the state’s $ 7.6 billion debt. With a projected surplus of nearly $ 2 billion, now is the perfect time to pay off much of that balance, they say.
- A reversal of towing costs and delays. This amendment would delete the wording of the current budget proposal which increase the daily charge for storing towed vehicles from $ 15 to $ 25. He would keep the current law, which gives vehicle owners 30 days to claim their car from a tow yard before they can sell it. The current bill would reduce that period to 20 days.
- Removes some tax credits from the budget-and-tax package and in separate invoices. These credits include an extension of the Angel Small Business Investment Tax Credit and affordable housing tax credits for individual and business filers. By putting them in separate bills, it is easier for some lawmakers who opposed the appropriations to vote for the budget and vote against policies with which they disagree.
- Halved funding for the State Parks Heritage Fund. The contribution would increase to $ 5 million. The fund is used to improve Arizona State Parks.
- Removes the ability of the Drought Mitigation Board to provide grants, staff and technical assistance to applicants.
The Chamber also indicated that electoral integrity measures are still being developed. The House is scheduled to begin its business on Monday at 9 a.m.