- Associated Press - Thursday, May 4, 2017

PHOENIX (AP) - The Latest on a scheduled debate and votes on the proposed $9.8 billion Arizona budget (all times local):

11:35 p.m.

The Arizona Senate has voted to approve a $1 billion construction and maintenance loan program for the state’s three public universities.

Thursday night’s 23-7 vote came with seven Democrats backing the measure and just one majority Republican defection.

The university bonding portion was the most divisive of the 11 budget bills.

The Senate finished voting on the state budget but the House continues to vote on the remaining portions.

The House already passed the university bonding bill, so the state budget is just a few certain votes away from heading to Gov. Doug Ducey’s desk for his expected signature.

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9 p.m.

The Arizona Senate has begun voting on a package of bills making up the state’s $9.8 billion state budget.

The first series of bills passed the Senate 17-13 along party lines Thursday night with only support from majority Republicans.

The Senate has not debated or voted on the most contentious part of the budget. That’s a $1 billion bonding proposal allowing the state’s three universities to borrow money for new buildings and for maintenance.

The House approved that measure earlier in the evening with two votes to spare, and other bills passed 35-24 along party lines.

House and Senate debate is expected to continue well into the night.

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7 p.m.

The Arizona House has voted to approve a $1 billion construction and maintenance loan program for the state’s three public universities.

Thursday evening’s 33-26 vote came with no Democratic backing and with just two majority Republican defections.

The passage clears the way for the rest of the budget to sail through the House since the university bonding portion was the most divisive of the 11 budget bills. A criminal justice funding bill passed the House earlier in the evening on a party-line 35-24 vote.

The Senate is debating the budget package but has not yet taken any votes.

The $9.8 billion spending plan includes teacher raises and a package of other K-12 education programs backed by Gov. Doug Ducey. Democrats opposed the university bonding because they wanted a bigger teacher pay raise and a restoration of welfare cuts Ducey backed in 2015.

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6:40 p.m.

The Arizona Legislature has approved a bill that cuts personal income taxes over two years by increasing the personal exemption.

The $11 million tax cut is part of a deal to get majority Republicans backing for a $9.8 billion state budget package.

House Speaker J.D. Mesnard’s proposal passed Thursday with all Republicans and a handful of Democrats in support.

The bill boosts the current $2,100 personal exemption for a single individual by $50 in each of the next two years. It will cut a person’s taxes by less than $5. Backers say it’s a small cut but a step in the right direction.

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5:50 p.m.

Democrats in the Arizona Senate have failed to remove a state budget provision barring federal family planning money from going to Planned Parenthood Arizona.

Sen. Katie Hobbs says the provision requiring the state to apply to oversee the federal birth control and cancer screening money will hurt women. She says cutting funding to Planned Parenthood will restrict access to care.

Republican Sen. Nancy Barto said every cent of the $2 million now going to Planned Parenthood for family planning will still be spent and no women will lose access. She says the provision assures the public that none of the federal money would be indirectly subsidizing the abortion industry.

Majority Republicans rejected the Hobbs’ effort to remove the provision.

Planned Parenthood Arizona says it treats about 20,000 people a year with the federal funds and none are used for abortion.

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4:40 p.m.

Republican Arizona lawmakers are horse-trading to secure enough votes to pass a $9.8 billion state budget package that includes a $1 billion university construction loan package.

House Speaker J.D. Mesnard says three new provisions are being added to help ease the way to passage without minority Democratic support.

The proposals include at least $1 million in new money for “freedom school” programs at Arizona State University and the University of Arizona that have received millions in funding from the conservative Charles Koch Foundation. Other proposals include a ban on universities using general fund money for lobbyists and a requirement that cities place tax-raising measures only on even-year general election ballots.

The deals are needed to overcome conservative opposition to the big university bonding proposal.

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4:20 p.m.

The Arizona House has passed the criminal justice portion of the proposed $9.8 billion state budget.

The criminal justice section of the Arizona’s budget would strip Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone of $1.6 million for a task force that deters criminal gang activity but would still appropriate money for the same task forces in Pinal and Pima counties.

Several Democrats continued to question whether cutting the Gang and Immigration Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission funding from the state’s most populous county was politically motivated after the Democratic sheriff defeated longtime Republican sheriff Joe Arpaio in November.

The full Arizona House’s party line 35-24 vote sends the legislation to the Senate where it is considering mirroring legislation.

The House will still debate and vote on 10 other bills within the proposed budget.

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3:30 p.m.

The Arizona House has started debating the proposed $9.8 billion state budget while the Senate was poised to begin but then delayed debate for a couple of amendments.

House Republican leaders say they have the votes to pass the state budget and think they have enough for a $1 billion public university construction loan plan.

Senate President Steve Yarbrough also says he has the budget votes but is far short of the 16 Republican votes he needs for the bonding plan.

Democrats are opposed and Yarbrough is working behind the scenes to either get more GOP support or persuade a handful of Democrats to back the plan.

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1 p.m.

Both the Arizona House and the Senate are marking time as deal-making continues in an effort by majority Republicans to secure enough votes for passage of a state budget.

Both chambers had short floor sessions Thursday morning on non-budget bills and then recessed to allow talks to continue. House Republican leaders say they’ve got the votes to pass the $9.8 billion budget and think they’ve got enough for a $1 billion university construction loan package.

Senate President Steve Yarbrough also says he has the budget votes but is far short of the 16 Republican votes he needs for the bonding plan.

Democrats are opposed and Yarbrough is working behind the scenes to either get more GOP support or persuade a handful of Democrats to back the plan.

House Speaker J.D. Mesnard says he won’t take up the 11 budget bills until a deal is reached in the Senate because changes may be needed.

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11:15 a.m.

House Majority Leader John Allen says there are enough Republican votes in his chamber to pass a $9.8 billion state budget package and he believes a massive university loan plan also has enough GOP votes to pass.

Allen made the prediction during a meeting of majority Republican House members Thursday morning as the Legislature prepared to begin debate and votes on the budget plan.

The $1 billion public university construction loan program has faced stiff opposition from some Republicans. The vote count in the Senate was well short of the required 16 Republicans needed for the bonding plan to pass. Senate President Steve Yarbrough says he is working to shore up support but may need Democratic votes.

Democrats also oppose the budget because it only includes a 1 percent teacher raise and doesn’t include restoration of welfare cuts Ducey pushed through in 2015.

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3 a.m.

The Arizona Legislature is expected to debate a $9.8 billion state spending plan for the upcoming budget year but it remains unclear if there is sufficient support for a major university funding proposal.

The Legislature plans to debate the budget deal hammered out between majority Republican lawmakers and Gov. Doug Ducey Thursday.

A $1 billion public university construction loan program faces stiff opposition from some Republicans. Democrats also oppose the budget because it only includes a 1 percent teacher raise and doesn’t include restoration of welfare cuts Ducey pushed through in 2015.

Senate President Steve Yarbrough said Wednesday he doesn’t have the votes to pass the budget and House Speaker J.D. Mesnard also is short of votes. That could change as Ducey leans on lawmakers to back the package.

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