The Senate Appropriations Committee voted unanimously in favor of a proposal to spend more than $6.8 million to hire new employees at Child Protective Services.
That's not to say all the senators on the committee were eager to approve a large special fund for CPS, since some of them have voted for similar packages in the past, and in return, the public got a scandal involving thousands of uninvestigated cases.
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Republican Senator Rick Murphy said he wasn't comfortable giving "one more dime" to CPS, especially as a foster parent with firsthand experience of CPS.
He even suggested that more CPS employees weren't necessary, as he explained he thought some of the cases being investigated weren't legitimate.
However, Murphy and the other seven members of the panel all voted in favor of the legislation, Senate Bill 1224.
The budget approved by legislators last year appropriates more than $69 million in new funding for CPS this fiscal year.
SB 1224 directs about $1.1 million from the Department of Economic Security's budget for this year, plus more than $5.7 million in new spending from the state's general fund, to go toward the hiring of 192 "full-time equivalent child safety and family services positions."
New Division of Child Safety and Family Services director Charles Flanagan was on hand to assure lawmakers that there's going to be actual accountability at CPS from now on.
"It's been shocking to me, seeing things that do not follow the law or follow policy," Flanagan said.
Flanagan, who was the Department of Juvenile Corrections director, was directed by Governor Jan Brewer to head a team to process all the cases CPS had ignored using the "not investigated" label. He then accepted a position as head of the new Division of Child Safety and Family Services, after Brewer signed an executive order creating that agency, and removing CPS from the umbrella of the Department of Economic Security.
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