AZ Senate Republicans release long list of priorities for 2024
Arizona Senate Republicans on Thursday introduced the lengthy list of priorities for the upcoming 2024 legislative session, but were light on specifics – particularly how they will overcome potential vetoes from the Democratic governor.
“We don’t control vetoes, she controls the vetoes,” Senate President Warren Petersen said, sidestepping the fact that Republicans could choose to pass bills that Hobbs is more likely to sign, instead of passing ones that they know she will veto.
During the 2023 session, Gov. Katie Hobbs vetoed a record 143 bills — all of them Republican bills.
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But Petersen touted the biggest bipartisan accomplishment of the 2023 session: the 2024 budget.
Petersen told reporters that top of mind in 2024 would be inflation relief, public safety and water. The new legislative session starts Jan. 8.
The Republicans’ recently released plan to lower gas prices, as well as its plan to increase teacher pay by $4,000 annually will both play a part in the inflation relief plan, Petersen said.
While Petersen promised that Republicans have no plans to roll back Arizona’s requirement for new residential developments in urban areas to have a 100-year supply of water, they are aiming to “set the record straight” on the status of water in Arizona.
“Due to the economically detrimental, factually flawed, and haphazardly announced narrative created by the Governor’s Office about Arizona’s water supply, our state is now in an even more precarious position when it comes to our housing inventory, while out of state investment begins to impact our economy,” Republicans wrote in their plan.
Petersen said he’d been working with the League of Cities and Towns to speed up the construction approval process to help deal with the housing shortage.
GOP members of the Senate also plan to possibly try to send members of the Arizona National Guard to the border with Mexico to help the Border Patrol officers and local law enforcement already working there to deal with a surge of migrants crossing the border.
Then-Gov Doug Ducey sent National Guard troops to the border in 2021 and while there are no troops currently at the border on Hobbs’ orders, she recently asked the Biden administration to re-assign some already in the area on national orders to open the recently-shuttered Lukeville port of entry.
The full list of priorities that the Senate released also includes a focus on:
- Resolving the 2024 state budget’s $400 million shortfall — mostly caused by a reduction in revenue after Republicans cut income taxes — by cutting spending without tapping into the rainy day fund. “This is not a big cliff,” said Sen. John Kavanagh, of Fountain Hills. “It’s one-time spending, and that makes it easier.” He said some possible areas for cuts include road projects that can’t be completed currently because there aren’t enough available workers.
- Infrastructure, and ensuring that tax money is allocated efficiently and to “the modes used most by travelers,” meaning that Republicans will likely continue to try to steer tax money away from public transportation projects.
- Health, including addressing the worker shortage in medical, behavioral and long-term care through professional training programs and licensing reform. Senate Republicans also plan to attempt to increase the capacity for psychiatric treatment in public and private facilities and ensure that services to people experiencing homelessness “meaningfully support an individual’s ability to obtain housing and achieve long-term success in maintaining housing.”
- Election reform in what the Senate Republicans say is an effort to increase transparency and promote confidence among the electorate.
“In spite of the Governor’s record vetoes of our election integrity bills, we will continue to put forward commonsense solutions,” Republicans wrote in their plan.
Sen. Wendy Rogers, of Flagstaff, a 2020 election denier and proponent of many of the election reform bills that Hobbs vetoed in the 2023 session, said she’ll be back at it in the upcoming session, with plans to ensure results come in earlier.