Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed all five legislative bills sent to her this week from the state Senate, carrying through on her demand for a state budget that includes Medicaid expansion.
Brewer had told lawmakers she would not sign any more bills from them until they act on her plan to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Of the five bills, one was considered important to Republicans, enhancing the definition of and protection for free exercise of religion. The other four were considered routine improvements to existing legislation.
The proposal passed the Senate last week as part of the state budget and is awaiting action in the House. There, a proposal to put it on the ballot in a special election this fall is being drawn up, but Brewer has said she opposes that.
"We cannot move the budget without this initiative," Brewer told a Tucson audience this week. "So we've got to get the Medicaid thing squared away. Then we can get the budget squared away."
The Republican governor and fellow Republicans leading the Senate and the House have been at odds over her proposal since she made it in January. She has said the expansion will provide health care to as many as 300,000 Arizonans, provide 21,000 jobs in the health industry and free up state money for education and other needs.
Opponents have said the plan contributes to the federal deficit and debt and they fear the federal government will drop the plan after a few years, leaving the state stuck with funding it or dropping people from health coverage.
The Senate's vote to approve it was 19-11, with six Republicans joining all 13 Democrats in favor. In the House, legislators on both sides of the issue have said they think a simple majority is in place for passage.