Republicans in the state Senate approved its latest version of a spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year. But the proposal has some significant differences than the budget approved by the House last week.
The proposal includes half as much money for school district run charter schools and half of the additional money the House gave universities over the baseline funding.
Officials with Gov. Jan Brewer’s office say unless the House and Senate make changes, a veto of the budget is likely.
At one point, the floor debate in the Senate turned from content to philosophical. Senate President Andy Biggs referred to the money available to budget writers as “confiscated” from the people.
“What is government? It is raw power. It does not have empathy or mercy,” Biggs said.
That idea sparked an angry response from Tucson Democrat Sen. Steve Farley. He called the budget a moral document.
“We are compassionate, empathetic people," he said. "I don’t think any of you ran on the platform of I want to go up there and wield raw power, I don’t want to.”
"I want to use the power vested in us by our ethics, by our morals to fight for something that is right for the entire body of Arizonans whether they voted for us or not," Farley continued.
The House has not yet taken up the Senate plan.