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Water Infrastructure Finance Authority criticizes Arizona governor’s budget proposal

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Cameron Arcand

(The Center Square) – Arizona's Water Infrastructure Finance Authority is not pleased with Governor Katie Hobbs' budget proposal.

The proposal suggests $33 million for the state's Long-Term Water Augmentation Fund, as documents from the government's office suggest that it would "continue investments in long-term water supply development initiatives for the state."

Water augmentation has to do with protecting and enhancing water resources to help consumers, according to Arizona State University. 

However, WIFA expressed its concern with the amount proposed, which was lower than it anticipated, and is asking the legislature to shoot it down. WIFA is defined as "an independent state authority" that helps decide funding for water-related projects in Arizona, according to its website

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"Arizona committed to investing $1 billion in long-term water augmentation through WIFA over three years. The [executive] budget fails to meet that commitment. Instead, it cuts the promised appropriation by 90%," WIFA posted to X, formerly known as Twitter.

"WIFA made significant progress toward our long-term augmentation mission in 2023. We hired a well-respected engineering firm as consultants. We conducted a needs assessment with Arizona water users. We issued an RFI that received 28 unique responses," the thread continued. "The process for finding new water will not be easy, and, to do it right, it cannot be fast. But that doesn’t mean it is not worthwhile."

The authority also stated that it was disappointed with the governor not proposing more money for "conservation grants."

"Moreover, the Governor failed to grant our request for additional funds for conservation grants. In 2023, WIFA awarded $106M in grants expected to save 2.7-4.7M AF of water. Grants have been awarded in every county, for projects ranging from ag efficiency to turf removal, the post stated. 

"In her SOTS address, [Hobbs] said that ongoing drought will require “expanding public-private partnerships, increasing conservation, exploring new technologies.” But her Executive Budget slashes funding to the agency designed to focus on those very areas," the thread added.

Water investment figures were just one of several proposals facing scorn in the governor's budget plan. Republican lawmakers, who hold the legislative majority, already suggested it's going to be a long road ahead for the governor's budget negotiations.

"These elements in her proposal are dead on arrival with the Republican Majority," Senate Appropriations Chairman John Kavanagh said in a statement Friday. "Her grandstanding of bipartisanship during her State of the State Address is a far cry from the reality of this budget proposal, as her funding cuts strictly target Republican priorities."