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Bill would cap spending by state at last year's level

The Arizona Republic | by Mary Jo Pitzl | January 27, 2012

State spending would be capped at the amount of last year's budget under a guideline House Republicans are considering, triggering complaints from Democrats.

The proposed rule change would block the House of Representatives from approving any budget bills whose total spending exceeded that of the previous budget year. The figure could only be adjusted for population changes or inflation.

The sponsor, Rep. Justin Olson, R-Mesa, said it would be a way to make lawmakers think long and hard about any spending increases. If enacted, it would hold the state to an $8.5 billion budget, which is on par with spending from 2003, Olson said.

Democrats called the rule change a backdoor way to enact TABOR -- the Taxpayers' Bill of Rights -- a measure that Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed last year as too restrictive.

They convinced House Speaker Andy Tobin, R-Paulden, to hold off on a vote Thursday. Tobin said he'll likely bring the issue up for a vote next week, adding he supports it.

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