The 2024 Arizona Legislative Session is a Wrap, and I Wish It was Messier (But Still Have Hope)

By Alexander Lomax

Every year in Arizona, the legislative session ends when the budget has been finalized and voted across the finish line. In years past when Republicans held significant majority in both the House and the Senate as well as holding the Governor’s seat, the session often wrapped up relatively early (April or May) with a relatively uneventful budget negotiation. However, this year, with Hobbs in the Governor’s seat and slim majorities for Republicans, it was bound to be a contentious process.

Until…it wasn’t.

Hobbs wisely took the lead in negotiations directly with GOP leaders in order to avoid having to use the veto pen and set everything back to the start. It incorporated cuts across the board in order to balance the budget, given natural constraints for spending embedded in the Constitution, and seems to have demonstrated the sort of pragmatism that we hope for from politicians.

Some legislators are irked on both sides, and frankly, that’s probably a good thing. Not everyone will be happy, but if both parts are equally mildly annoyed, that’s bipartisanship!

Frankly, I had been hoping for a frequent veto pen, a stand-off at the capitol, and a session that went into the fall with much moaning and gnashing of teeth. Instead, we got something that worked. Bad for getting additional content to write about (and I will now have to fully transition towards thinking about elections), but good for the rest of us.

Regular readers will remember that Hobbs ditched her initial Chief of Staff Allie Bones relatively soon after she took the office after months of chaos and ineptitude, and hired Chad Campbell, longtime consultant and former House Minority Leader. It was easily the best thing she’s done since she’s been in office, and these budget negotiations spell that out.

However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, as allocation of funds have earned a surprising new enemy: Attorney General Kris Mayes. Mayes is threatening to sue both the legislature and Governor Hobbs over a reallocation of funds from an opioid settlement towards the Corrections Department. Mayes suing the legislature might almost be expected, but going after the Governor from her own party is…interesting.

Is she right to do so? I am not a legal expert and will not expect to be so. I prefer to focus on the political aspects, where once friends and political partners are now apparently seeing a fraying relationship. Assuming Mayes has good reason to do so, kudos to her for doing her job without partisan constraints.

And now we have some potential drama to look forward to in the future, and for that I’m thankful.