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Arizona's Growing Budget Shortfall Pressures Pre-K

Yesterday, the Associated Press reported that Arizona's mid-year budget shortfall looks worse than expected. Legislators are looking to cut health care and have already sponsored a ballot referendum that would sweep tobacco tax monies reserved for early-childhood education back into the general fund.

In developing their latest budget forecast, state budget analysts assumed this referendum wouldn't pass, nor would another, that would sweep money for land conservation back into the general fund. And if the referenda fail, the legislature may have to go into a lame-duck special session to plug the budget hole.

However, the fate of these referenda is still very much in doubt. Though at least one Republican lawmaker was quoted saying the early childhood money funds things that are "nice to have," not "need to have," polls show only a slim majority of voters think lawmakers should have the power to move money out of voter-approved programs during a budget crisis.

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