Budget bills were introduced in the Arizona Senate yesterday, with a spending plan that's roughly $150 million less than Governor Jan Brewer's proposal.
One of Brewer's priorities in her budget proposal, more than $73 million in new spending for Child Protective Services, is cut down in Senate President Andy Biggs' proposal.
In one instance, Brewer proposed $8.6 million to hire 93 more employees for CPS' Office of Child Welfare Investigations, to investigate 100 percent of the allegations of criminal abuse and neglect of children. In 2013, about 17 percent of such cases were able to be investigated by OCWI workers.
The Senate proposal calls for $1.8 million to hire 20 OCWI employees.
In another instance, Brewer called for funding going toward the replacement of CPS' database, CHILDS, which has been criticized as completely inefficient for years now. Brewer called for $10 million for 2015, $15 million in both 2016 and 2017 to completely pay for the system. The Senate proposal calls for $5 million per year for three years. (According to Brewer's budget explanation, the state is still trying to pin down exactly how much the replacement would cost. Still, there's a big difference between $15 million and $40 million.)
Elsewhere, Brewer called for a $25 million "transition fund" to separate CPS from the Department of Economic Security. Brewer made that separation earlier this year with an executive order, but this funding would establish the new "Child Safety and Family Services" agency. The Senate budget would cut that to $5 million.
Several of Brewer's other proposals for increased CPS funding are cut to some degree.
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Obviously, this is just a proposal, but that's what's on the table this week. Budget bills are scheduled to be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee this afternoon.
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