Tuesday, June 04, 2013

AZ budget and Medicaid restoration moving...sort of

The end of the legislative session is apparently nearing, though you still need to squint to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

From the Arizona Republic, written by Mary Jo Pitzl and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez -
House Speaker Andy Tobin ended a nearly three-week lull at the Capitol today by announcing work will begin on the state budget, including the controversial Medicaid expansion plan supported by Gov. Jan Brewer.

But plans to start the process with a Thursday meeting of the House Appropriations Committee were scuttled as today’s 4 p.m. filing deadline hit. That throws into question when the House will begin work on the fiscal 2014 budget, which in its current form includes Brewer’s Medicaid expansion.

Based on tweets from members of the Capitol press corps, there are enough votes to pass everything, but not enough to suspend the rules (which require at least three legislative days for the consideration of any measure), so this situation will go on well into next week.

Screencap taken on 4 June 2013

Based on that information, which is supported by other sources (i.e. - AZ Capitol Times), the likely schedule for the remainder of the session (note: this is tongue-in-cheek, not an actual prediction :) ) -

Tomorrow (Wednesday): A meeting of the House Appropriations Committee is scheduled for Thursday.  A session of the House Committee of the Whole is scheduled for Friday

- Thursday (June 6) - At the Approps meeting, the committee strips Medicaid restoration language out of the budget bills.   This creates all kinds of furor, and House leadership decides to cancel Friday's COW session to give legislators time to think about things.  And since they would have to come back next week anyway, this isn't a hard call to make.

- Tuesday (June 11) - After being greeted by the sight of demonstrators from both sides of the Medicaid issue (tea party types: "health care for the poor will destroy the republic!"; civil society types: "bullshit"), the House COW session restores the language after a "slightly" contentious four hours of debate that will include screaming, gnashing of teeth, stamping of feet, and the sticking of fingers in ears and yelling "lalalalala I can't hear you lalalalala!".  And after Carl Seel is done speaking, things will get worse.  Three hours of the four hour debate will be spent with legislators sitting around as Medicaid opponents "slow vote", each holding off on actually casting their votes as long as possible.

Ultimately however, the Medicaid restoration language will be re-attached to the budget package.  Probably in time for legislative leadership to do interviews for the local 10 p.m. newscasts.

- Wednesday (June 12) - Wanting to avoid the theatrics/histrionics of the COW session, House leadership informs a closed-door meeting of the Republican caucus that supporters of the measures will be rewarded with a lunch with an intern from the Governor's office at the DES cafeteria across the street from the lege; anyone who engages in the sort of disruptive and dilatory behavior seen at the COW session will be treated to lunch, too.  

At Amy's Baking Company in Scottsdale.  

The bills pass with the same gnashing of teeth as seen in the COW session (AZ's dentists are going to see a spike in office visits the week after next) but far more smoothly than in the previous day's COW session.  The budget bills are then sent to the governor.

- Thursday (June 13) - Legislators in both chambers pass a raft of measures, send emails to the governor pleading with her to sign their pet measure(s), and adjourn sine die.  Look for at least two legislators to receive speeding tickets on sine die day as they get the hell out of Dodge.  And look for one of them to be Rep. Steve Smith (R-Maricopa), who has a wee bit of a problem with a lead foot (not sure if that is covered under the "Obamacare" that he so enthusiastically opposes).

People near I-10, I-17, and SR87 leading out of the Valley should be prepared to hear cars full of people cheering and yelling.  Think high school graduation, with less booze and worse, less hope for the future, because these folks are coming back in January.

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