Cuts Proposed to AG Office Budget ‘Vastly Disproportionate,’ Goddard Says

(Phoenix, Ariz. – Dec. 18, 2009) Attorney General Terry Goddard released the following statement regarding H.B. 2001, General Appropriations, Reductions and Transfers, as passed by the Arizona House of Representatives Appropriations Committee early this afternoon.   

“The present budget proposal is a direct assault on public safety in Arizona. By seizing additional money from key funds through excess budget transfers – far above and beyond the across-the-board cuts – the budgets of public safety offices, particularly the Attorney General’s Office, are hurt in a vastly disproportionate way.   

“This proposal will jeopardize my efforts to fight organized crime, stop border violence and provide for the safety of Arizona’s citizens. In particular, the anti-racketeering fund, which funds many criminal prosecutors and investigators, is decimated under this proposal.  The consumer fraud fund, also hit by this proposal, pays for enforcement against those who prey upon the vulnerable in our society and protects our citizens against mortgage fraud, predatory lenders, fraud by pharmaceutical companies and a growing number of consumer scams.  

“Recent budget cuts have taken more than a fair share of funds from this Office. The Attorney General’s Office represents less than 2/3rds of 1 percent of the State’s budget. Under this proposal, we are taking 5 percent of the overall cuts and over 10 percent of the excess budget transfers. The total cut to the AG’s budget is over 14 percent – almost double the 7.5 percent, across-the-board cut to state agencies.

“The cumulative impact of recent budget cuts to the AG’s Office has been severe. The total of 482 fulltime employees at the start of this fiscal year was 129 fewer appropriated fulltime positions than a decade ago. Dollars to the Office from the State’s general fund for this fiscal year were fewer than any year since 1995. This new round of cuts would take us back to the level of funding in 1990. General fund appropriations to this Office are down 23 percent in the past 18 months.      

“I urge the Legislature act in support of protecting all Arizonans and not continuing the attack on public safety and the Attorney General’s Office. It is not only fundamentally fair, it is the right thing to do for the people of Arizona who count on us to protect them.”