Arizona Supreme Court sidesteps budget battle

By Chris Rizo | Jun 24, 2009

Jan Brewer (R)

PHOENIX, Ariz. (Legal Newsline)-The Arizona Supreme Court said Tuesday it will not get into the middle of the budget fight between Gov. Jan Brewer and the state Legislature.

Brewer, a Republican, had asked the state's high court to force the state Legislature to send her 10 budget bills that lawmakers passed this month but have yet to pass on to her.

Brewer is seeking a temporary state tax increase that would generate about $1 billion in extra revenue a year, aimed at averting cuts beginning in 2011.

In the Supreme Court's three-page order by Chief Justice Ruth McGregor, the justices said the Legislature had failed to send them to Brewer "within the time mandated by the Arizona Constitution."

However, the court stopped short of ordering the budget bills to be transmitted to the governor, saying there were "unique circumstances" in the case.

"After the Legislature finally passes a bill, the Legislature cannot delay presenting it to the governor beyond that time needed to complete required ministerial duties," McGregor wrote. "We cannot know whether the Legislature would have passed the bills when it did had it anticipated our decision."

Word of the court's decision prompted Brewer to call on lawmakers to send her the budget bills, which she is widely expected to veto.

"I agree with today's ruling," Brewer said in a statement. "Anything less than an expedient presentment of the bills to my office is clearly a violation of the Arizona Constitution as found today by the Supreme Court."

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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