Gov. Katie Hobbs to Republicans: It's game on
Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs has released her first budget, a $17 billion blueprint designed to give Republican legislators a collective heart attack.
The whole thing was both delusional (her plan) and comical (some GOP reaction to her plan).
But mostly it was theatrical, a bold opening act in what promises to be a six-month drama.
“We see this as a starting point and we want to work with the Legislature,” Hobbs’ chief of staff, Allie Bones, said on Friday, while briefing reporters on the spending plan.
I wasn’t there, but I imagine her smirking as she said it.
Republican lawmakers nearly had a heart attack
Hobbs proposes killing former Gov. Doug Ducey’s Border Strike Force and supplying state-funded scholarships to undocumented immigrants.
She proposes scrapping the state’s new universal school voucher program and redirecting the money to public schools.
She proposes cutting funds used to provide services to homeless pregnant women and reallocating the money “for pregnancy services that are inclusive of all options and support personal choice.”
Somebody grab the defibrillator.
In $17.1B budget:Hobbs pushes Democrats' priorities
Republicans’ Twitter accounts were fairly soaked with spittle.
“Governor Hobbs is competing with @GavinNewsom for worst Governor in the country by destroying Arizona in one fiscal year,” huffed Rep. Joseph Chaplik of Scottsdale. “What a disaster! ... She's rolling out the red carpet to illegals and sending an official invitation to break our laws.”
“We already knew Hobbs was radically out of touch with everyday Arizonans, now the world can see,” raged Rep. Austin Smith of the West Valley. “Sorry Arizonans, no secure border for you! Hobbs needs that money for abortions paid for by you and to investigate your police!”
This is not a serious budget from Hobbs
“Based on the left-wing wish list of spending details disclosed so far,” announced House Speaker Ben Toma of Peoria, “I’m confident to say that it will be dead on arrival.”
As any middle schooler would say: No duh.
This is not a serious budget that a governor would pitch to a conservative Legislature.
This is performance art. It’s Hobbs playing to her progressive base. And Hobbs, sending a message to the Republicans who (barely) control the Legislature that’s there’s a new governor in town – one who may have been elected by a margin of just six-tenths of 1 percent but one who isn’t going to wilt when the heat is on and the time comes to cut a deal.
And that time will come.
“I appreciate the theater of it,” said Republican strategist Chuck Coughlin, who served both Republican Govs. Fife Symington and Jan Brewer. “She’s positioned herself well for an intense negotiation, which will happen at the end of June.”
But the theater of it could help her later
That’s when the far-right fumers will conclude their bit parts in this year’s drama, writing themselves out of the story by refusing to compromise. When the Republican Party’s more pragmatic legislators will sit down with Democrats to cut a bipartisan budget deal. It’ll only take a few, given Republicans’ one-vote hold on each chamber.
Hobbs knows she can’t kill the universal voucher program that was supposed to cost us $33 million and already is at 10 times that amount – and growing. But she may be able to win over enough support to put a cap on the program before it balloons out of control.
She likely won’t kill Ducey’s Border Strike Force. But she could insist that the money actually be used to combat human smuggling and drug running at the border.
And she absolutely won’t win support for state-funded abortions or state-funded scholarships for “Dreamers,” those young Arizonans who were brought here illegally when they were children. But she may be able to score a tax credit for low-income families and more help for people on the brink of becoming homeless. She may be able to expand health care for the children of Arizona’s working poor.
Republicans like to say that Hobbs campaigned from her basement, but with this budget Hobbs is clearly signaling that she doesn’t intend to govern from there.
As they say in the theater, the game’s afoot.
Reach Roberts at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LaurieRoberts.
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Gov. Katie Hobbs' budget sends a message to Republicans: Game on