PHOENIX - Senate Republicans are proposing a nearly $8.8 billion spending plan for the coming year, a 1.6 percent hike over current levels.
The measure includes more money for Child Protective Services for caseworkers and group homes. Gov. Jan Brewer had made that a priority.
There also is $82 million in new funding for K-12 education, designed to comply with a ruling in January by the state Court of Appeals that lawmakers were breaking the law by refusing to adjust state aid for inflation.
But there's actually less there than meets the eye.
The Senate GOP plan makes other adjustments in formulas. So the $3.6 billion allocation for K-12 education really is just $55.2 million more than this year.
And the proposal does not include the funds Brewer wants to provide in a new performance plan designed to increase aid to schools that show academic improvement or achievement.
Universities will have to live with the same state aid as this year. With increasing enrollment, that will make them more dependent on tuition, including increases recently approved by the state Board of Regents.
There is, however, $10 million to be split between Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University. This is part of an ongoing effort to equalize per-student funding with the higher levels long enjoyed by the University of Arizona.
Overall, the Senate spending plan is only about $100 million less than what Brewer proposed in January.
But the package includes no money at all for Brewer's plan to expand Medicaid. Senate President Andy Biggs remains opposed to any such move.
That means it will be up to Democrats who want the expansion along with moderate Republicans to try to push for funding in the budget over Biggs' objection. Even if they are successful, they will run into a problem in the House, where Speaker Andy Tobin is pushing a plan to take the issue to voters.
Brewer would not comment Tuesday on the Senate plan.
"I am just grateful that we have things on the table and we have something to discuss, something to debate," she said.
The package of bills gets its first look today in the Senate Appropriations Committee, with floor debate on Thursday.