Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard says the state's proposed budget will force him to lay off half of his criminal division staff and "endangers the future of every Arizonan."
These strong words come from a news release just put out by Goddard in response to the proposed budget hammered out by state lawmakers and Governor Jan Brewer.
Without further ado, here's Goddard's message:
Proposed Budget Endangers Future of Every Arizonan
(Phoenix, Ariz. - Jan. 29, 2009)
Attorney General Terry Goddard submitted the following statement to the House and Senate appropriations chairmen in opposition to the budget bills under consideration in this afternoon's legislative committee hearings:
Mr. Chairman, members of the committee:
This budget endangers the future of every Arizonan. It does not protect our citizens, but instead represents a conscious decision to cut agencies that patrol our highways, secure our border and prosecute criminals. It does not protect our children, but instead represents a conscious decision to endanger their future.
I agree that every agency must do its part to close this deficit. That is why I laid off 20 attorneys, investigators and staff earlier this month and have proposed a $1.5 million general fund reduction for the Arizona Attorney General's Office for the remainder of this fiscal year.
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The cuts required in these bills, however, go far beyond what public safety agencies, such as mine, can absorb. For example, this budget will:
● Force me to lay off half of my criminal division,
● Seriously impede the Attorney General's Office's ability to break up smuggling cartels that bring thousands of undocumented aliens and large quantities of illegal drugs across the border each week,
● Take away the resources to prosecute multi-million dollar Ponzi schemes, such as the Baptist Foundation, that prey on our seniors.
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There is a dangerous lack of common sense and equity in this budget that must carry our state through a time of crisis. The proposed cuts are substantially greater for a public safety agency than they are for other elected agencies not involved in public safety. Furthermore, despite well-publicized surpluses at the start of the fiscal year, the House, the Senate and the Governor's Office have exempted themselves from any substantive general fund reductions.
Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, balancing Arizona's budget is not a question of spending cuts versus taxes. There are numerous options, including rollovers and the federal bailout money announced yesterday, available to balance this budget. I urge you to vote in favor of the future safety, stability and prosperity of our state, and adopt a budget that protects public safety. I'm committed to continue working with you to create a safer and more prosperous Arizona that we will be proud to leave to our children.
Goddard's news release came on the heels of an article by the news site run by four former East Valley Tribune staffers, the Arizona Guardian, about the same thing. See the Guardian's story here.