Arizona 2022 Legislative Session Ends with $18 Billion Budget, Failure to Ban All Abortions, and 79 Bills Waiting for Ducey

The 2022 Arizona Legislative session ended Friday, after passing the annual budget and 385 bills – 79 of which are waiting for Governor Doug Ducey to sign or veto. Among the spending priorities is a massive expansion of the state’s school voucher system, which Ducey is expected to sign.

However, some political watchers note that the nearly $18 billion budget, composed of 12 bills, is full of pork – one example of which is a large tax credit for Hollywood the Republican leadership insisted on passing.

A proposed bill banning all abortions, meanwhile, was blocked.

State Representative Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek), stated in a post on Telegram on Saturday, “Ben Toma, Regina Cobb, & Rusty Bowers have REFUSED every single offer by the Conservative members of the House to try and reach a fiscally responsible Republican budget. In the middle of the night last night when no one was awake to watch, they instead chose to BUY OFF Democrats. … They took a $5+ BILLION dollar surplus of your hard earned tax dollars and SPENT it on their pet projects.”

The budget contains $1 billion in transportation earmarks, up to 20 percent pay raises for 35,000 state employees, and over $1 billion for education, which includes more school counselors and social workers. Several million dollars are targeted to higher education, which Hoffman refers to as “woke public universities like ASU, U of A, and NAU that willingly provide taxpayer subsidized tuition amnesty to illegal aliens.”

State Senate Minority Leader Rebecca Rios (D-Phoenix), praised the education spending, saying, “…the opportunity to truly invest in our public education and secure a brighter future for Arizona students cannot be overlooked.” All of the Democratic members of the House except two voted for the budget, along with a substantial number in the Senate.

The budget includes hundreds of individual member pork projects, including over $500 million for those by Democrats, multiple new welfare entitlements, and $70 million to incentivize cities to implement homeless programs. Hoffman said the $70 million would “implement the same insane homelessness policies that have DESTROYED places like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, etc.”

Several Republicans in the Senate refused to pass the budget unless HB 2156 was passed providing $150 million in tax credits to movie producers that film movies primarily in Arizona or that use in-state production studios. State Representative Shawnna Bolick (R-Phoenix) criticized the bill, “We don’t need another carve-out for specific industries to attract ‘woke’ Hollywood actors and studios to our state.”

Hoffman, whose attempt to introduce a bill to ban all abortions was thwarted by House Republican leadership, stated in a post on Telegram, “It truly never ceases to amaze me how hard Establishment Republicans will fight the conservative members of their own Party. If only they would direct even a fraction of that same energy toward Democrats, America would not be in the mess we’re in now.”

Hoffman brought a motion on Friday to immediately introduce legislation that would fully ban abortions in Arizona. However, he said House Majority Leader Ben Toma (R-Peoria) “and the rest of House Republican ‘Leadership’ fought it with more vitriolic fervor than I’ve ever seen them exert on Democrats.” He posted on Telegram that House Speaker Rusty Bowers (R-Mesa), who frequently sides against his own party, “refused to recognize me to speak and instead proceeding directly to Committee of the Whole (COW).” Hoffman said this rarely happens.

Hoffman went on, “Majority Leader Toma became so enraged that he was shaking and screamed at me on the floor of the House about how he’s ‘more pro-life than [I’ll] ever be,’ and that our attempt to save tens, possibly hundreds, or thousands of babies’ lives who will be snuffed out by abortion under our current law was a ‘political stunt.’”

Toma told Hoffman there weren’t enough Republican votes – 31 – but Hoffman said the motion only needed a majority of those present on the floor to pass, and there were more Republicans than Democrats on the floor. At one point, Hoffman said, the sergeant-at-arms almost approached the two since he was worried Toma was going to punch Hoffman.

A transportation bill dubbed the “Maricopa County Transit Slush Fund Tax” by the Arizona Free Enterprise Club (AFEC), SB 1356, also passed the legislature, and is headed to the ballot. The bill extends a half-cent tax that has funded various transportation projects for 25 years, particularly public transportation and light rail.

Not everything in the budget raised the ire of conservative Republicans. There was over $500 million for the Border Security Fund, much of which will go for border wall construction. The state equalization tax was repealed, a tax which is levied against properties. The tax credit was increased for donating to qualified charities and foster care organizations.

A school voucher bill labeled the “most expansive education savings account program in the nation” passed, opening the program up to all students. Last time a similar bill was passed, opponents referred a measure to the ballot to rescind it, which voters passed. This year there isn’t enough time to make the ballot, so if opponents collect enough signatures – after Ducey is predicted to sign it – the law will be put on hold until the 2024 election.

Ducey has vetoed one bill so far this year, HB 2617, an election integrity bill which would have removed non-citizens and out-of-state residents from the voter rolls. He has only signed one election integrity bill into law this year. HB 2492, sponsored by Hoffman, requires proof of citizenship in order to register to vote, with the exception of voting in congressional elections, which is preempted by federal law.

Ten legislators voted against the budget. They were Hoffman, State Representative Joseph Chaplik (R-Scottsdale), State Representative Jacqueline Parker (R-Mesa), State Representative Beverly Pingerelli (R-Peoria), State Representative John Fillmore (R-Apache Junction), State Representative Judy Burges (R-Prescott), State Representative Neal Carter (R-Casa Grande), State Representative Travis Grantham (R-Gilbert), State Senator Warren Petersen (R-Mesa), and State Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita (R-Scottsdale).

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Rachel Alexander is a reporter at The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Rachel on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Doug Ducey” by Doug Ducey. Background Photo “Arizona Capitol” by JoeAuH2O. CC BY-SA 3.0.

 

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