by David Safier
Tom Prezelski and I chimed in about rumors of some Senate Democrats playing Let's Make a Budget Deal with Republican Senate President Andy Biggs. AZ Blue Meanie has the Capitol Times take below. The other country heard from is Steve Moratore at the Arizona Eagletarian. He's got a similar take, but he's naming possible names.
Scuttlebutt has it that Biggs has been meeting with Senate Minority Leader Leah Landrum Taylor (D-South Phoenix) and Assistant Minority Leader Linda Lopez (D-Tucson) and a handful of other Democrats to do some wheeling and dealing to peel off enough of the opposition to get his bills passed.
There are possibly as many as six Democratic votes in the Senate that Biggs will target for this clandestine operation. But the two top Dems in the Senate are pretty much a lock as to with whom Biggs is working to make deals.
It may be worth noting that overall, the Arizona Senate has 17 Republicans and 13 Democrats. Biggs needs 16 votes to send any Senate bill to the House or House bill to the Governor. Seventeen minus five is twelve. So, Biggs has to pick up at least four Democratic votes to make his plan work.
Oh, and as to Medicaid expansion, everyone outside the legislature expects Biggs to oppose it. He has said so on several occasions. However, the scenario described to me had Biggs including Medicaid expansion in his budget bill(s) with the very strong expectation that it would be stripped out in the House.
All the stories are similar in the big picture but somewhat different in the details, which makes it sound like they come from different sources.
I'm not sure if back rooms are still smoke-filled, but they're definitely as dark as they always were. The best way to knock down the walls and let the sun shine in is for journalists to ask questions of the appropriate senators and for constituents to get on the phone and/or write emails to let legislators know they're supposed to be doing the people's work, and we're paying attention.