The Arizona Legislature ended the 2006 session early Thursday morning after deciding to take a few controversial, previously unresolved issues to the voters in the November election.
Many lawmakers agreed that fierce battles between the Republican-controlled Legislature and Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, prompted the session to last twice as long as expected. The balance of power led to compromises on key issues such as tax cuts and education funding, but also stymied GOP efforts to push through an aggressive agenda on border security.
Lawmakers were split over how much was accomplished during the 164-day session.
“I think the biggest disappointment in this session is that it took so long to get it done,” said Sen. Robert Burns, R-Phoenix. “But I think we did a good job and got a pretty good tax cut.”
Republican lawmakers were able to strike a deal with Napolitano to enact a $542 million tax cut package that will save Arizonans money on their property and income taxes.
Frustrated in their attempts to get Napolitano to sign off on their comprehensive illegal immigration reform bill, Republican lawmakers decided to take a couple of the measures it contained to the ballot.
Also, Republicans said they gave parents more choices of where to educate their children by successfully arguing for $5 million for state-funded privateschool vouchers, which would help parents pay for a privateschool education.
But that still wasn’t enough for every Republican to walk away from the session feeling like a winner.
“We gave away too much,” said Sen. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu City. Although his party won the largest tax cut package in state history, Gould pointed out that the $10.1 billion budget also is the largest in state history.
“It cost us too much to get that tax cut,” he said.
Session in review
The 2006 legislative session, by the numbers: Length of session: 164 days Original goal of leadership: 82 days Longest session: 170 days Year of record: 1992 House bills introduced (not including miscellaneous resolutions and memorials): 877
Success ratio: 27.2% Senate bills introduced: 576
Success ratio: 34.5% Bills signed by governor (so far):
Allowed to go into law without signature: 3 Vetoes: 34 Line-item vetoes: 1 Lawsuits over legality of line-item vetoes: 1 Date for state Supreme Court hearing: June 27 Measures still awaiting action: 29 Date for final action: July 4 Bills that became law in 2005: 334 Vetoes in 2005: 58 Line-item vetoes: 3 Legislators who died in office: 1 Suffered a heart attack in chambers: 1 Resigned to run for other offices: 2 Ejected for election law violations: 1