Arizona Attorney General’s Office threatens lawsuit over state funding

FILE - Kris Mayes Ross D. Franklin

Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes criticized Gov. Katie Hobbs and the state Legislature over concerns about what she’s calling a “budget cut” to her office.

Mayes, a Democrat, said that the budget does not properly adjust with inflation, meaning that the money they would receive would be the same, but have less value. According to her letter, her office is requesting roughly $10.8 million more in funding.

In addition, she said the budget as it stands right now does not give proper funds for the Child and Family Protection Division’s Protective Services Section attorneys, the Criminal Division resources dedicated toward consumer protection, and funding for anti-illicit drug efforts.

“The current budget proposal that ignores our requests for much-needed funding will push the Attorney General’s Office to the edge of a steep cliff,” Mayes wrote.

“It is not sustainable, nor in the best interest of Arizona. If we do not rectify these budget deficiencies, it will have a catastrophic effect on the Arizona Attorney General’s Office operations, our employees’ livelihoods— and most importantly, the safety and well-being of all Arizonans, especially our most vulnerable residents,” she continued.

Sen. T.J. Shope, R-Coolidge, told The Center Square that the budget is still a fluid situation.

“The Attorney General should be focusing on the core functions of her position, like defending the law, instead of trying to influence budget negotiations, as well as craft her own water policy,” Shope said. “She will get her piece of the pie. We don’t need to cut K-12 or anything else to fund her agency. With all due respect, the Legislature and the Governor will hammer out funding details.”

Other offices, like the Arizona Secretary of State, are also trying to make the case for greater funding in this year’s budget.

The present form of the budget proposal fails to fulfill the requirements we’ve conveyed to the Governor and the Legislature. 1/3— Arizona Secretary of State (@AZSecretary) May 9, 2023

In budget debate Tuesday, Republican lawmakers said the budget compromise adds additional staff for Mayes’ office. She reiterated that it was not enough.

“The Legislature and Governor need to go back to work and produce a budget that’s in the best interest of all Arizonans,” she said. “We need a budget that funds essential state services that protect the well-being and safety of all Arizonans.”

Hobbs vetoed a “skinny budget” back in February, which was similar to one former Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed the year before.

Republished with the permission of The Center Square.