Livingston Corrects Mayes On Budget Issues

Livingston Corrects Mayes On Budget Issues

By Daniel Stefanski |

Amid a growing dispute with Governor Katie Hobbs and the Arizona Legislature over water issues, Democrat Attorney General Kris Mayes is adding another grievance to her tab: the Arizona Fiscal Year 2024 budget.

On Saturday, Attorney General Mayes transmitted a letter to Governor Hobbs and the Arizona Legislature, expressing her “alarm concerning what is currently under consideration for the Arizona Fiscal Year 2024 budget.” According to Mayes’ knowledge of the state of budget negotiations at the time, “most state agencies, including executive offices established by the Constitution such as the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, would not receive any new ongoing monies from the state’s General Fund in FY24.”

In her letter, Mayes noted that her office had requested “a 15 percent pay increase equal to $3,864,700 in ongoing General Fund dollars for the DCS Attorney General Special Line Item to protect Arizona’s children;” an appropriation of “$3,014,500 from the General Fund for 18.5 full-time employees in the Criminal Division that are currently funded from a temporary appropriation from our Consumer Protection Revolving Fund (CPRF);” $1,750,000 to backfill that (National Mortgage) Settlement funding with a CPRF appropriation (for 13 employees in the Consumer Protection Section of our Civil Litigation Division);” and another “$2,150,400 from the General Fund to replace this funding (from the Anti-Racketeering Revolving Fund) we will lose (because of recent statutory changes).”

General Mayes explained her reasoning for this letter in a statement issued Monday, writing, “Over the weekend, I expressed my alarm over a budget proposal that ignores vital needs of Arizonans – including much-needed funding for our office to continue to crack down on crime and fraud. Today, we see a budget proposal moving forward that appears to be politically expedient for a few, but wholly inadequate for the majority of people in our state. As I said, I am opposed to any statewide budget proposal that does not adequately fund Arizona’s ability to fight the fentanyl crisis and the drug cartels, protect Arizona’s children and combat elder abuse and consumer fraud.”

The State’s Chief Law Enforcement Officer also challenged the governor and members of the Legislature to come up with the requested funds, saying, “The Legislature and Governor need to go back to work and produce a budget that is in the best interest of all Arizonans. We need a budget that funds essential state services that protect the well-being and safety of all Arizonans. I will continue to fight, especially for our most vulnerable residents, as well as the dedicated, hard-working public servants in the Attorney General’s Office.”

Mayes, however, saved her most contentious declaration for the end of her letter, mentioning the “talk of the Legislature sweeping the authority of the Attorney General to direct funds received through consent judgments against several pharmaceutical companies for their roles in the opioid crisis.” She warned, “Sweeping this authority from the Attorney General would be a breach of the consent judgments, and as Attorney General I will not stand by and allow this to happen. I fully intend to consult with the Legislature as the judgments dictate. Any proposal that contradicts this provision by having the Legislature instead direct how the state funds will be used is not acceptable, and I am prepared to go to court to ensure that the State is able to obtain and properly direct those funds for opioid treatment, prevention and education if warranted.”

“Attorney General Mayes should learn the facts first, and accurately convey those facts in committee hearings, before making demands and threats to sue the Legislature and the Governor over the budget,” tweeted Livingston with a copy of his letter to her in which he points out that the Legislature does in fact have a say in how the funds are used.

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.