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Ducey calls special session for fires while state budget remains unfinished

With a new state budget still in limbo, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has called lawmakers into a session to “contain current wildfires, possible flooding, and any other natural disasters that arise from this emergency.”

Ducey flew over the Telegraph fire via helicopter Thursday to survey the damage.

In a news conference with House Speaker Rusty Bowers, R-Mesa; Rep. David Cook, R-Globe; and Sen. T.J. Shope, R-Coolidge, Ducey announced he was calling a special session.

“We’re going to sit down in a bipartisan way with the leaders of the chambers and figure that out,” Ducey said. “This should be a win for Arizona. There will be more work to be done after that, but we want to carve out the distraction of what else needs to be done to just focus on this top priority.”

The Telegraph fire is one of the largest in Arizona history, having burned more than 84,000 acres. As of Thursday morning, InciWeb indicated the fire was 34% contained. To the east lies the Mescal fire, which is not as large but has burned more than 72,000 acres.

Lawmakers, meanwhile, spent little time in session Thursday before adjourning until Monday. Republicans previously set the day as an informal deadline in which to pass their budget since the fiscal year begins July 1.

Ducey said there is time to work with lawmakers on the budget once they address matters regarding the wildfires.

Bowers was short Thursday when answering questions about ongoing budget negotiations.

“We’re going to work through,” he said.

Bowers lost his family home in the Telegraph fire, though it was no longer his primary residence.

The proposed budget bills failed in the House on Monday because Cook voted with Democrats against the proposals. He had made his objections known beforehand, saying the state’s one-time surplus wasn’t going to translate into a recurring revenue level, and the GOP-proposed tax cut would leave them in dire financial straights in the following years.

The budget proposal gradually would scrap the state’s progressive income tax that tops out at 8% and replace it with a flat 2.5% tax. This wouldn’t account for the additional 3.5% surcharge on income over $250,000 for single filers enacted by Prop. 208 in 2020. It would cap the total income tax that could be charged to a resident at 4.5%.

The Senate reintroduced several measures Ducey had vetoed because of lawmaker inaction on a budget.

This article was originally posted on Ducey calls special session for fires while state budget remains unfinished

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