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AG lays off 29, expects to save $2M

Twenty-nine employees of the Arizona Attorney General’s Office will be out of a job by the end of the month.

In a press release sent July 20, Attorney General Terry Goddard noted that 12 attorneys and 17 supporting staff members would be trimmed from the office. Criminal investigator positions were not affected.

Roughly $5.8 million was taken from the Attorney General’s Office in the fiscal 2010 budget. That includes lump-sum cuts of almost $2.1 million and fund sweeps that redirected another $3.6 million to the state’s general fund, according to figures provided by the Joint Legislative Budget Committee.

Attorney General’s Office spokeswoman Anne Hilby pegs the office’s total 2010 budget at $58.6 million.

The Attorney General’s Child and Family Protection Division was hit the hardest by the cuts announced on July 20. That division will shed five attorneys and five staff members on July 31.

However, those cuts were necessary due to reductions at the Arizona Department of Economic Security, which pays for the operations of the Child and Family Protection Division because the division handles legal issues related to child welfare. The layoffs are expected to save DES an estimated $900,000, Hilby said.

The remaining seven attorneys and 12 staff members to be removed from the Attorney General’s Office are expected to save $1.1 million. The office would not disclose which departments would be reduced until all affected employees are told of the cuts, Hilby said.

Goddard said the impact of the cuts will be noticeable, and he asked lawmakers to allocate more money to his office as soon as possible.

“These reductions are painful for our hard-working lawyers and staff, and unfortunately, diminish our ability to protect Arizona families and defend our state in the courtroom,” he said. “I call on the Legislature to restore critical public safety resources at the earliest opportunity.”

In January, the office parted with 20 employees to accommodate adjustments made by the Legislature to the fiscal 2009 state budget. This year, more than 80 employees have left the office through layoffs, retirements, and other employee departures, according to Goddard.

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