From education to private prisons and indigent services, State Lawmakers spent the wee hours of the morning clashing over spending levels as they passed a new budget.  Republican lawmakers supporting the budget say the cuts are difficult choices, but we have to live within our means.  House Majority leader

Steve Montenegro approved the cuts saying “it is difficult to make these decisions, but at the same time, we must be better stewards of what we have so we can provide in the future for those who are volunerable and in need.”

Yuma Democrat Lisa Otondo says there’s a lot to hate in this $9-billion dollar package, including reducing food assistance to needy families by one year.  She says “there are a lot of things I don’t like in this budget – cuts to education, the five percent provider reduction for ACHESS, we’re gonna lose a lot of jobs in my district, the second largest in the state of Arizona.”

Proposals include cutting higher education by $104-million and eliminating state funding for PIMA, Maricopa and Pinal Community Colleges. 

Mesa Republican Kelly Townsend somberly voted in favor of the budget cuts saying “I feel terrible for the widows and others that need this assitance and I reluctantly vote Aye.”  Tempe Democrat Ed Ableser expresses his irritation over working on a sudden budget in an all-nighter adding “there is no rush, we’re not nearing the 100 days, we’re not removing the clock from the Senate floor like we’ve done in the past, there’s no rush.  We don’t have to be here at midnight, why are we doing this?  We could do this Monday morning.”

Barbara Villa/Kris Dugan