Arizona’s unexpected $250 million windfall sets up battle in Legislature

| July 1, 2015

By Alla Beard Rau • The Republic •

As Arizona’s economy continued to languish in the years following the end of the Great Recession, state leaders pushed through painful budget cuts amid looming threats of shortfalls that could again grow into the billions of dollars. This fiscal year began similarly, but will end Tuesday on a surprisingly high note.

Arizona is on track to end the fiscal year with $250 million more in the bank than expected, setting the stage for a battle over whether to spend the windfall or save it.

Some are greeting the good news with calls to quickly invest more in education.

But Gov. Doug Ducey and Republican legislative leaders say it’s too soon for a spending spree. The extra money — enough for Arizona to avoid dipping into its rainy-day fund to pay end-of-the-fiscal-year bills — appears to be more the product of a cloudy crystal ball than a robust economic comeback. Income-tax revenue is way above projections, primarily because the forecasts were based on last year’s unusually low numbers.

“It’s always a good time to invest in education,” said Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson. “We have additional revenue, so what are we waiting for?”

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Category: Education

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