State senators on Tuesday approved borrowing up to $200 million to pay off the money Arizona owes the federal government for paying jobless benefits.
The state provides unemployment insurance through a fund fueled by a tax on employers. But the length and depth of the recession resulted in that fund going broke, forcing Arizona to borrow what at one point reached $420 million.
State officials estimate that the improving economic situation will have the balance down to about $200 million by September. But if it is not paid off by that time, the state faces an interest payment and the federal government will impose a new surcharge on what employers have to pay in premiums.
HB 2173 has the state borrow the money, with plans to repay it from future employer premiums. Senate President Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, figures that will cost employers less than what the federal government will charge.
The measure was added to a related House-passed bill and now needs approval from that chamber before going to the governor.
Resign to run
On a 20-10 margin the Senate agreed Thursday to broaden the exceptions to the state's resign-to-run law.
The 1980 voter-approved law makes it illegal for any elected official to formally announce a bid for another office with more than a year remaining on his or her term.
But Senate President Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, pointed out that the law is already full of loopholes. He said individuals can form exploratory committees, gather petition signatures and even raise money years away from a future race as long as they do not make a formal ``announcement.''
Biggs said scrapping that "announcement'' trigger simply makes the process more transparent.
Even with the change, an official who actually filed nominating papers for another office more than a year from the end of a term would lose his or her current office. HB 2157, which already has been approved by the House, now goes to the governor.