Wednesday, June 12, 2013

AZ legislature and the budget: Hope somebody brought cheese, because there is plenty of whine at the Capitol tonight...

This week at the legislature started quietly - everybody knew stuff was happening, but it was all out of public view.  No one knew when the stalemate over the state's budget was going to break, just that it was going to happen soon.

Turns out "soon" meant "Tuesday".

Some of Tuesday's events - 

...The Republicans scheduled a House Appropriations Committee meeting for early Thursday (8 a.m., HHR1) to consider the House's version of a budget in the form of strike-everything amendments to the package of budget bills passed by the Senate.

...House Speaker Andy Tobin (R-Paulden) then adjourned the session of the House until Thursday, in an apparent attempt to gain an edge in the fight over the budget and Medicaid restoration.

...Arizona Governor Jan Brewer called them all into a special session to force the passage of a budget and Medicaid restoration.

...And the tea party types EXPLODED -

Antenori and Gould are former legislators; Biggs and Tobin should be.

Anyway on Wednesday, the outrage turned into full-scale whinery during the COW sessions (Committees of the Whole) in the respective chambers of the lege.

In the Senate, they excoriated the governor for "hijacking" the "democratic process" (Sen. Judy Burges) and tried to derail the budget with scads of proposed amendments, some overtly hostile, some seemingly innocuous.  All voted down.

Senate COW is done; all parts of the budget passed.  The Senate will meet in Third Read (final approval) session on Thursday.

(Thanks to all of the MSM and legislative types who tweeted from the floor of the Senate.  I may have two eyes and two ears, but that isn't enough to watch and listen to, and understand, two livestreams at one time.)

Over in the House, the debate has become a kabuki theater of sorts - tea party type Republicans have been demanding that the less extreme Republicans who are working with the Democrats and the Governor stand to answer questions.  The less extreme Rs have declined to do that, so the tea party types have one of their compatriots stand in, to proffer criticism of the other Rs, in the form of a faux-answer.

As of this writing, they are taking a break in the House before taking on Medicaid restoration.

To sum up the non-Medicaid debate thus far:

Tea party types decry the "unnecessary abruptness" of the special session.  Ignoring the fact that they've had more than five months to do this but waited until there are about two weeks left in the fiscal year to....delay the budget even longer.

With their hand forced by the special session, the tea party types have taken to criticizing the "lack of tranparency" of the budget process.  Ignoring the fact that most of the last decade's worth of budgets have been done with as much transparency, and when Democrats protested, they just laughed at the Ds.

The tea party types have been reduced to opposing provisions in the BRBs (budget reconciliation bills, or changes to law necessary to make the budget work) that they have supported, even sponsored, earlier in the session.  Ignoring the blatant hypocrisy.

In other words, they are opposing everything in the budget, just because it is in the budget.

As of right now, rumors/expectations are that the lege will adjourn sine die sometime Thursday, but that will only happen if the budget passes first.  If the tea party types are successful in their efforts to derail the state budget and Medicaid restoration, anything could happen.

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