/ Modified apr 12, 2014 9:08 a.m.

Brewer Signs $9.2B Budget for Coming Year

Plan includes $59 million more for new child safety agency, more educational funding; gov. line-item vetoes $4M.

Gov. Jan Brewer Friday signed the state's $9.2 billion budget plan, which includes an additional $59 million for a new child safety agency, a press release from the governor's office said.

The Legislature passed the budget on Monday after a contentious two weeks during which it bounced back and forth between the House and the Senate before leaders and a conference committee worked out a compromise.

"Job No. 1 every session is to pass a responsible budget for the state of Arizona, and that's what I signed into law today," Brewer said in her statement. "This budget keeps us on the path to restoring the state to a structurally balanced budget by 2016, and protects the rainy day fund while addressing critical priorities like child protection, public safety and education."

The budget highlights funds for public safety, K-12 and higher education, health care and child protection, the release said.

Brewer's action on the budget included her line-item veto of $4.1 million in funding. It included rejection of $828,000 for the state ombudsman; $1.5 million for K-12 education, including technical training money and Teach for America support; and $1.3 million to help counties cover the cost of a business tax exemption.

With an additional $59 million for a new child protection agency, the governor has about $100 million in new spending and 438 new positions for child welfare.

"Importantly, my signature on this budget comes with a clear, shared commitment with the Legislature to revisit additional funding for a new child protection agency once the child safety reform working group completes its process," Brewer said in her statement. "A new agency must have the resources it needs to succeed in its core mission to safeguard Arizona's abused and neglected children."

The budget also established the K-12 success funding, which is a performance-based funding plan, proposed by Brewer during her State of the State address in January.

The University of Arizona received about $3.5 million from the budget for its cooperative extension program, according to a press release from the university.

However, "It is disheartening and concerning that we received essentially no support for our mission critical research and innovation efforts or the much-needed veterinary medicine program," said UA President Ann Weaver Hart in a statement.

The UA received about $1 million for building renewal and $2 million in discretionary funds, which will be applied to "areas of critical need at the university," Hart said.

In her statement she thanked state Rep. Ethan Orr and state Sen. Steve Pierce for their efforts in fighting for additional funding for the UA.

The Joint Legislative Budget Committee projected on Thursday that at the budget spending trend set forth by the just-approved budget, the state will face a deficit of $547 million in three years.

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