Napolitano's big victory not mandate, GOP says

The Associated Press
Saturday, November 18, 2006

PHOENIX - Key Republican lawmakers said Friday they have no intention to bow to Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano's agenda, despite her statements that her big re-election win gives her a mandate.

And one top Republican leader said illegal immigration, an issue that saw GOP lawmakers and the governor battle nearly the entire 2006 session, will again be prominent on GOP lawmakers' to-do list in 2007.

"If you don't know it's the most important issue in Arizona, you're living somewhere else," House Speaker Jim Weiers, R-Phoenix, said. "People want to see results, and they want to see them now."

While Napolitano won re-election Nov. 7 and Democrats captured a still-undetermined number of additional legislative seats as vote-counting continued Friday, Republican maintained their majorities of both the House and Senate.

Napolitano's 27 percentage-point win over Republican Len Munsil doesn't amount to a mandate for her own wish list, which includes expanding health care programs, because she ran on Republican priorities such as cutting taxes, improving the state's fiscal health and enhancing border security, Senate Majority Leader-elect Thayer Verschoor said.

"If that's the mandate, I can support that mandate," the Gilbert Republican told a legislative outlook conference sponsored by the Arizona Tax Research Association on Friday.

Napolitano would face a tough fight if she proposes shortcuts to increase spending above revenue growth, a veteran GOP lawmaker who is the Senate's top budget-writer predicted. Revenue growth is slowing well below the glittery increases of approximately 20 percent recorded during each of the past two years.

The increase projected for the four-month-old current fiscal year is expected to be approximately 8 percent, and the Legislature's budget director told the ATRA attendees that lawmakers won't have nearly as much money available for tax cuts or discretionary spending as they did a year ago.

Despite that, Napolitano and like-minded lawmakers likely will propose spending increases that outstrip the growth in revenue, said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Bob Burns, R-Peoria.