- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 16, 2016

PHOENIX (AP) - The Arizona House on Tuesday unanimously passed legislation restoring most cuts made to high school career and technical education programs last year, but House members sent a message to the Senate that they weren’t pleased with how the restoration bill was handled.

The 60-0 vote by the House included a Legislative intent clause that memorialized the back-and-forth history of the legislation, and included the names of 56 of 60 House members. They also added back in another $1 million in funding, meaning the bill now restores $29 million of the $30 million in cuts made last year that had been set to take effect on July 1.

Senate President Andy Biggs called the House action to include the names of its members in permanent law baffling.

“I just found myself laughing and shaking my head,” Biggs said as he barely contained his chuckles. “What do you say?

“I guess there’s only 56 names here, it looks like they left off four. So forever enshrined in Title 15 will be 56 state (representatives). And those (four) people, they’ll say to their kids, I don’t know why they left me off.”

Biggs said the Senate will act immediately on Senate Bill 1525 and send it to Gov. Doug Ducey for his promised signature.

“At some point silly must end, and maturity must take over,” Biggs said.

House Speaker Pro Tem Bob Robson, R-Chandler, said there was nothing silly about the House tacking a two-page legislative intent clause onto the bill.

“Quite candidly, we moved the bill expeditiously through this body, got it over to the Senate and the Senate did what the Senate did,” Robson said. “And the House members felt that they needed to be heard.”

Both chambers introduced identical legislation nearly two weeks ago, and the House passed its version early last week. The Senate was prepared to take up a bill Wednesday, but Gov. Doug Ducey called for a halt to consult with Biggs and House Speaker David Gowan to ensure a balanced budget was still planned even with the new technical education spending.

Biggs then put the Senate version of the bill up for a vote Thursday with an amendment and it passed unanimously. But using the Senate version angered House members who thought they deserved credit by having their bill sent to Ducey.

Lost in the legislative antics was the urgent intent of the bill to restore nearly half the $70 million a year appropriated to the 14 Joint Technical Education Districts. Losing the $30 million could have forced many of the districts to shutter classes or eventually close altogether.

The districts provide training to high school students who are headed to college, providing auto mechanics, welding, nursing and other technical education classes.

Robson said the House wanted it to be clear where it stood.

“An intent clause basically spells out the intent of the body and the intent of the body is what it was and that’s what was said,” Robson said.

Biggs wasn’t buying it, saying the Senate’s focus has been on restoring the funding and won’t play games.

“That’s what we’ve been focusing on, and been baffled and entertained somewhat,” he said. “But we’re not going to try to lower the prestige of this institution. We’re going to try to raise it and continue to do what we should do.”

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