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Republican plan to send 'skinny' budget to Hobbs stalled


PHOENIX  — Republican plans to enact a "skinny" budget and send it to Gov. Katie Hobbs came to a screeching halt Monday when one of their members refused to go along.

First-tem Rep. Liz Harris, R-Chandler, voted "no" on one of the main bills to fund the state for the new fiscal year beginning July 1.

All final House actions require 31 affirmative votes. But with the GOP having just 31 members and Democrats refusing to go along, that left the plan short.

Harris would not discuss her decision. Neither would House Speaker Ben Toma, R-Peoria.

But her vote should come as no surprise.

In November, nearly a week after the election, Harris posted on Instagram she would withhold her vote on any bills this session until there is a new election.

"There are clear signs of foul play from machine malfunctions, chain of custody issues and just blatant mathematical impossibilities," she wrote.

For example, Hoffman noted Kimberly Yee, the successful Republican contender for state treasurer, got 1,390,135 votes.

Yet GOP gubernatorial contender Kari Lake got just 1,270,774 votes in falling to Hobbs. And Republican Blake Masters picked up 1,196,308 votes as he lost to Democrat incumbent Mark Kelly.

"How can a Republican state treasurer receive more votes than a Republican gubernatorial or Senate candidate?" she asked.

What Harris has not addressed, though, is there is evidence of "ticket splitting" by Republicans who voted in November, with some party members apparently deciding they could not support Lake or Masters.

Harris, however, has made up her mind.

"I will be withholding my vote on any bills in this session without this new election in protest to what is clearly a potential fraudulent election," she said in her post.

Republican legislative leaders had no immediate comment about what they intend to do next to try to get the necessary 31 votes. And even if they do manage to craft a bare majority, the move is largely symbolic: Hobbs has said she will veto it if it gets to her desk.

The proposed $15.1 billion budget that failed Monday essentially consists of existing programs, with adjustments for inflation and growth in things like numbers of students and people in the state's Medicaid program. But other than $200 million set aside in a bid to settle a long-standing lawsuit over school capital funding, there are no additions.

GOP leaders said this is designed to be in place should they be unable to reach a deal with Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs before the fiscal year ends on June 30.

She is advancing a $17.1 billion spending plan with new money for public schools and a tax credit for low-income parents, along with defunding last year's expansion of a voucher program to allow all students to attend private or parochial schools with taxpayer dollars.

Republicans call the skinny budget a standby plan. They note that if there is no deal — and no standby plan — as of July 1, there is no authority in law for the state to spend money beyond that date to operate even basic services.

Hobbs, however, has said she will veto it, saying she wants the GOP majority to negotiate with her for something upon which they all can agree.

Press aide Josselyn Berry called what the Republicans want to do a "hollow political stunt" and said Hobbs has no interest in a "one-sided budget that lacks bipartisan input or negotiating."