- Associated Press - Saturday, January 30, 2016

PHOENIX (AP) - Gov. Doug Ducey is asking Republican lawmakers for the power to unilaterally make mid-year budget cuts when unexpected revenue shortfalls arise.

GOP legislators are mulling Ducey’s request for authority to make cuts when the Legislature is out of session, the Arizona Capitol Times reported (https://bit.ly/1P3ZGHm).

The governor’s office says governors in at least 30 other states already have such authority.

“This is really just looking at making adjustments to ensure that the budget stays balanced if projections come in below what was anticipated,” Ducey spokesman Daniel Scarpinato said.

Former Gov. Jan Brewer said she doesn’t know of legislatures that would give up any budgeting authority.

“It would be like the governor giving up his federal dollars for them to appropriate,” Brewer said.

Republican Senate President Andy Biggs of Gilbert said he needs to speak with the governor on the issue before commenting, but did note that “the Constitution gives the state Legislature appropriations authority. That’s like our main job.”

But some legislators such as Republican Sen. Debbie Lesko of Peoria oppose the idea.

Lesko says Ducey already has other cost-cutting measures that he can implement such as hiring freezes.

“My personal belief is that there’s a separation of powers and that’s the way it’s meant to be,” Lesko said. “Although I support the governor, I also want to uphold my legislative authority as an elected representative for my district. And part of that power is budgeting. If there is a problem in the middle of the year where we need to readjust our budget, I am more than willing to come back in and work with the Governor’s Office and call a special session to resolve it.”

Some Republican lawmakers who support Ducey’s request have said they were in favor of anytime the state can spend less.

Others worry about what future governors would do with that power, though Scarpinato said Ducey is willing to let the law expire eventually.

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Information from: Arizona Capitol Times, https://www.arizonacapitoltimes.com

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