- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 3, 2017

PHOENIX (AP) - The Latest on hearings on a proposed $9.8 billion state budget (all times local):

7:30 p.m.

Arizona House committees have joined their Senate counterparts in advancing all 11 bills that make up a $9.8 billion spending for the budget year beginning July 1.

The House Appropriations Committee closed out a daylong session late Wednesday evening. Senate Appropriations Committee members finished a couple hours earlier.

The action sets the stage for expected debate and votes by the full Legislature on Thursday, although it isn’t clear if the budget has the required votes.

The major point of contention for some Republicans is a $1 billion university bonding proposal. Democrats generally oppose the plan because it doesn’t contain a big-enough teacher pay raise of a full restoration offcuts to welfare.

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5:30 p.m.

The Arizona Senate has advanced all 11 bills that together comprise a $9.8 billion budget for the year beginning July 1.

The Senate Appropriations Committee advanced 10 measures Wednesday afternoon, while the chamber’s Education Committee approved a $1 billion university bonding proposal earlier in the day.

House panels approved the university bonding measure and eight of 10 other bills and are now working on the final two.

If they pass as expected House and Senate leaders plan to schedule debates and votes Thursday.

Democrats generally oppose the plan because it doesn’t contain a big-enough teacher pay raise of a full restoration offcuts to welfare. Some Republicans who oppose the university bonding measure skipped the Senate hearing and one Republican opposed the measure in the House.

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2:00 p.m.

The state budget proposal working its way through the Arizona Legislature strips Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone of $1.6 million in funding used for a task force that deters criminal gang activity.

The provision is included in the criminal justice part of the budget package approved by a House panel Wednesday on an 8-5 vote.

Eight Republicans on the panel voted for the measure and all five Democrats voted no. Wednesday’s action advances the proposal to the full House.

The money has historically flowed to the sheriff and Democrats complained that the decision to cut the funding might be politically motivated.

Penzone is a Democrat who defeated longtime Republican sheriff Joe Arpaio in November.

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12:30 p.m.

Planned Parenthood Arizona says a provision in the proposed state budget would cut off about $2 million in federal funding it now uses to provide birth control and cancer screening services to women across the state.

Planned Parenthood President Bryan Howard says the cuts may jeopardize health centers in west and north Phoenix, Mesa, Flagstaff and Tucson. None of the money pays for any abortion services.

The provision requires the state to apply to oversee federal family planning money and bars it from allowing any of that money to flow to an abortion provider.

Republican House Speaker J.D. Mesnard says it has been the policy of the GOP majority in the Legislature to try to limit funding for Planned Parenthood.

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10:40 a.m.

The Arizona Senate’s Education Committee has voted 3-2 to advance a $1 billion plan that allows the state’s three universities to borrow about $1 billion for new buildings and building maintenance.

Three Republicans on the panel voted for the measure that is part of the state budget proposal and both Democrats voted no. Wednesday’s action advances the proposal to the full Senate.

Democratic Sen. Catherine Miranda said she could not vote for the measure while the state’s K-12 education system is underfunded. Teachers in Arizona earn among the lowest salaries in the nation and are seeking a 4 percent pay raise. The budget gives them a 2 percent raise over 2 years.

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10 a.m.

Arizona State University President Michael Crow is touting a $1 billion university loan program includes in the state budget proposal.

Crow told the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday that the bonding package would allow his university to develop new research facilities that attract new businesses to the state and boost the Arizona economy.

The budget proposal contains a $27 million yearly appropriation starting in 2019 spread among the three universities. The 25-year appropriation will be matched by the universities and allow them to issue bonds to finance construction and maintenance.

The proposal is controversial among some majority Republicans for various reasons, including worries about debt and concerns that universities already are over-funded.

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9 a.m.

All Arizonans would get an additional income tax break under an amendment to a proposed state budget plan that was negotiated by members of the Arizona House of Representatives.

Republican Rep. Michele Ugenti-Rita of Scottsdale said Wednesday that she and Republican Rep. Tony Rivero of Peoria worked to get an increased personal income tax exemption into the budget. The $100 increase wasn’t included in the $9.8 billion spending plan that was introduced Tuesday.

Ugenti says she worked with Gov. Doug Ducey’s office to get provision in the budget. She calls it a good first step to show average taxpayers that lawmakers haven’t forgotten them.

Ducey’s budget proposed indexing the exemption for inflation but no increase.

Budget hearings are scheduled for all day Wednesday with floor debate and votes expected Thursday.

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3 a.m.

The public will have just one day to weigh in on a $9.8 billion state spending plan that Republican lawmakers and Gov. Doug Ducey have agreed upon.

Hearings before Senate and House committees start Wednesday morning and are expected to last all day. The package of 11 bills funding the budget year beginning July 1 will run through the appropriations and education committees.

The plan includes cash for the state’s three universities to make payments on a $1 billion construction and building maintenance loan package. It also includes bigger teacher raises than Ducey sought - 2 percent over two years instead of 2 percent over five years.

Democrats are pushing for a 4 percent increase.

Debate and votes on the budget are tentatively set for Thursday.


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