This will be another short Report, but at least we know that --unlike last week -- the budget and Medicaid are starting to move in the House.
Progress looked pretty slow today until Speaker Tobin casually announced a first reading of all the Senate budget bills, and assigned them all to the Appropriations Committee.
Where they go from there is less certain.
We do know that the Speaker met with the Governor on the topic yesterday, clearing the way for action, so his moving the bills is a hopeful sign that he will support them or at least not stand in their way, a classy move on his part.
The Approps Chair, John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills) is no fan of the Medicaid restoration, so he may well try to gut the bills in committee, but I am hearing that there will be enough bipartisan votes on the floor to strip off the Approps amendments, returning them to their original state, which would mean that passage would send them straight to the Governor's desk, not back to the uncertain fate of a Senate conference committee.
The Medicaid restoration is part of the budget's Health bill, meaning that any reasonable amendments agreed upon with the Governor to make Medicaid more palatable to the Speaker would still go back to the Senate, but would avoid a conference committee because that bill's sponsor is John McComish (R-Ahwautukee). As a supporter of the Medicaid restoration, he would be able to simply concur with the amendments and send it to the Governor after a vote that would pass with the same coalition from two weeks ago.
The final House vote on the budget could happen by Thursday or Friday of this week, with a final Senate concurrence on any amended budget bills potentially next Wednesday, with the session ending by the following Thursday. Of course, very few things go as planned in the Legislature, so there are no guarantees, except that I will keep you informed.
In any case, the renewed movement is good news, and portends a possible end to the session as early as next week. Hopefully, there will be much to share in the next Farley Report.
For those of you who are worried about former Senators Frank Antenori and Ron Gould organizing an effort to refer the Medicaid restoration to the November 2014 ballot (suspending the enactment and forcing the State to unnecessarily spend hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in the meantime while our hospitals and tens of thousands of citizens remain at risk), I believe you can relax a bit.
Court cases have already declared clearly that budget-related bills are not subject to the referendum provisions of the Arizona Constitution. I hope that Mr Antenori and Mr Gould will soon understand the fruitlessness of their efforts to destroy our state's economy and healthcare system in order to get a few more minutes in the sun. The people of Arizona are sick of those kinds of partisan games. It's time to move into the bipartisan, moderate future charted out by the Senate budget.
Thanks for your continuing faith in me as your Senator.
Senator, District 9, Tucson
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