Gov. Janet Napolitano's budget plans are getting mixed reviews with support for her focus on highways and children's health care offset by worries about debt and spending levels.
The governor's $10.4 billion budget includes as much as $1 billion in bonding and debt.
Hallmarks of the budget include expanding state health care programs to cover more uninsured children, taking out longer-term bonds to bring in cash for highway construction and taking on debt for school construction instead of paying upfront.
Republican and fiscal conservative skeptics say the highway and school construction efforts will load the state with more debt, and the children's health plan, while well intentioned, has the state creeping toward socialized medicine.
Napolitano, a Democrat, wants to insure more children by lowering the threshold to qualify for public health services from $40,000 for a family of four to $60,000 in annual family income. The governor's office points out the federal government likely will match a good portion of those costs.
The Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce said it prefers more private sector solutions to the health care issue rather than expanding the state's KidsCare program. Fiscal hawks such as the Goldwater Institute point to spending increases resulting from past expansion of such programs.
Jack Lunsford, president and chief executive of the Westmarc economic group, said his organization supports the concept of having fewer uninsured children, but wants to see specifics of the governor's plan before endorsing it.
Groups such as Children's Action Alliance favor the expansion saying it will help children and families get necessary preventative care and improve the state's quality of life.
Business groups are open to the governor's plans for highways, but those same private-sector interests also tend to favor Republican plans for one-time cash to help ease congestion in the Phoenix area.
On the school construction front, the GOP tends to support up-front payment for school construction instead of Napolitano's lease-to-own deals.