Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
The Arizona Democratic Party issued this press release on the Tea-Publican budget to be voted on Today:
Statement on the Proposed Republican Budget Deal
Behind closed doors, career politicians have decided to betray our children
Apr. 30, 2012
PHOENIX, AZ--Luis Heredia, Executive Director of the Arizona Democratic Party, issued the following statement on the proposed Republican Budget Deal:
“Behind closed doors, Republican legislators and Gov. Jan Brewer have reached a budget deal that further erodes our commitment to Arizona's children. True to form, the Republicans have decided to pay off their cronies by giving millions of dollars to the private prison industry while once again refusing to fund KidsCare, failing to add funding for books in our classrooms, and continuing to turn away qualified, working families from child care assistance. To make matters worse, the Republicans have orchestrated this by stealing $50 million from settlement funds intended for foreclosed homeowners, and by taking $6 million from the judiciary in an act of Andrew Thomas-style retribution to punish our judges for having the audacity to uphold independent redistricting."
“This short-sighted budget is a perfect reflection of the Republican vision of government: better to reward your lobbyist buddies today than invest in the children who are Arizona's future. Arizona families of all parties should remember who matters under the Republican Majority when making their decisions in November.”
The Arizona Daily Star this morning has more on the fund sweeps from the mortgage-fraud fund, AZ plans to divert mortgage- fraud cash.
But the media has not reported on the fund sweeps from the judiciary in retribution for the Arizona Supreme Court decision against Governor Jan Brewer for her abuse of power in attempting to remove AIRC Chair Colleen Mathis, and for striking down the Legislature's previous attempts at fund sweeps, their public employee retirement system reforms, and other "agenda" measures like Paton's Law as unconstitutional. The courts have been a check on Tea-Publican tyranny.
I have received numerous e-mails from the legal community over the past 24 hours about the fund sweeps from the judiciary that are very similar to these e-mails below (I have modified paragraphs):
Late Friday afternoon, the Chief Justice conducted an emergency meeting of the presiding judges, superior court clerks, and court administrators. The meeting dealt with the Legislature's impending sweeping of $Six Million in funds for court automation.
These funds are used to operate the entire court system's judicial network (AJIN), including case, cash management, and jury management systems for 180 courts, adult and juvenile probation and 12 juvenile detention centers -- statewide. It's an understatement to describe the planned defunding as a body blow to the court system in smaller counties -- including superior courts, justice court, and municipal courts. The court systems in Maricopa County and Pima County have their own automation operations, and their operations will be hurt but probably can survive.
If defunding is accomplished, we (all jurisdictions) couldn't distribute dispositions to MVD and DPS. Courts couldn't communicate electronically; we'd all have to try to process cases in the old-fashioned way: on paper. And without our automation system, there will be delays in handling driver's license suspensions, vehicle registrations, and tax intercepts. Defunding would essentially shut down juvenile and adult probation activities. Detention admissions would be a nightmare. I'm sure this is just the tip of the iceberg.
From another e-mail:
Not if some in the Legislature have their way; they're defunding our court automation as pure payback to to the judiciary for the Supreme Court's recent decision in the Independent Redistricting Commission/Colleen Mathis case. (I spoke to one legislator who denied strongly that the defunding is retaliatory -- but the state senator pushing defunding bluntly told the CJ that this was "payback," and there are witnesses. And that senator wasn't the only legislator to make similar statements in front of witnesses.)
* * *
Some in the legislature may be furious with the Supreme Court because of the IRC decision. That's their business; at this point the merits or demerits of the IRC case aren't particularly important to me. But the continued operation of the court system is of critical importance to all of us. A lot of these calls to legislators will be tough to make. But if you can call even one legislator, and more if possible, and register your position on defunding court automation, it will help.
This is a clear attack on the independence of the judiciary. The Legislature (or at least some of the key members) have decided to retaliate against all of the judiciary, particularly the rural courts, because of one decision they don't like. We have to let them know that we oppose their defunding efforts.
And from another e-mail:
As you can see from the attached email, the Arizona Legislature is prepared to gut monies that fund our Court automation system. The legislature plans to take cut $24 million dollars (12 million for two years).
These are the monies that fund our dispatch system, computer operations, and other services in juvenile and adult probation, as well as many other functions in the state court system. This affects almost all the judicial network.
AOC operates case, cash management and jury management systems for many 180 courts, adult and juvenile probation and 12 juvenile detention ceters. It would affect both case processing and distribution of up to $400MM in funds. It would limit the ability to share information with the public, law enforcement and the legal community.
Law enforcement agencies use the court's system to transmit hundreds of thousands of citations; courts transmit electronic dispostions of MVD and DPS through the court's system. Court email, business process workflow, information access, software deployment, PC deployment and local court support, help desk, data center data base administration, security and disaster recovery all would be affected.
The Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and most of the non-urban counties at both the superior and lower court levels would be affected the most. This could lead to criminal cases not being processed on a timely basis and would affect communications between courts and with DPS and MVD. Law enforcement agencies and the court could not send data back and forth. Manual processing would have to be done, which could affect driver's license suspensions, vehicle registrations, tax intercepts and also affect detention intake and the juvenile and adult probation systems.
In the end, we all suffer as services will be cut and the effectiveness of our officers and the overall services to the statewide community will be negatively impacted.
Please take a moment to contact your Legislators and tell them that the courts have taken inordinate cuts over the last number of years, placing their constituents at risk. Identify yourself as an probation officer and tell them that now is the time our legislators should instead be building our court systems, during a time of increased revenue. Please use the link and click on Senate and House members to contact individual legislators in and out of your district. http://www.azleg.gov
If your time is limited, contact Majority Leadership in both the Senate and House to voice your concerns with these cuts.
UPDATE: Some superficial reporting on this fund sweep this morning; Republican lawmakers begin fine-tuning budget plan | Arizona Capitol Times:
Among the items legislators are still discussing is a proposal to sweep the Supreme Court Automation Fund, which is supplied by fees for defensive-driving classes, fees from people who make payments on their court fines, and surcharges on fines.
Lawmakers originally sought to sweep $12 million from the fund, but they have since revised it down to $6 million.
Several lawmakers expressed concerns about sweeping the money.
“What kind of impact is that slash of $6 million going to have?” Sen. Jerry Lewis, R-Mesa, said during a meeting this afternoon.
Senate President Steve Pierce said the courts are willing to give $6 million to the state, but he added they would like more flexibility about where that money will come from.
And from the Arizona Republic, $8.5 bil Arizona budget expected to be OK'd:
Representatives of the state's judiciary made their case against a proposed $12 million-a-year transfer over two years from their automation fund. By early afternoon, the transfer had been cut to $6 million a year.
Senate President Steve Pierce, R-Prescott, said the courts asked for the flexibility to find other sources for the money, since tapping the automation fund would shut down the system that links the courts with law-enforcement agencies.
Both Pierce and House Speaker Andy Tobin, R-Paulden, disputed rumors that the fund transfer was retribution for the state Supreme Court's ruling last fall on the Independent Redistricting Commission. The court overturned Brewer's decision to remove the commission's chairwoman, angering many GOP lawmakers who felt the commission had run amok.
Yeah, that's a pair of credible witnesses. They actively sought to undermine the AIRC, forced the Governor's hand into taking her illegal action, and they are among the real parties in interest behind the lawsuits filed by the secretive GOP redistricting organization FAIR Trust. Their denials wring hollow.