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Brewer signs criminal justice budget bill

Gov. Jan Brewer (Photo by Bill Coates)

Gov. Jan Brewer (Photo by Bill Coates)

With a stroke of her pen, Gov. Jan Brewer averted a possible shutdown of the state’s police force, which could have led to fewer officers patrolling highways and the closure of the state crime lab.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety was on the verge of running out of money, having remained operational for the first two months of the fiscal year because of a loan from the state’s general operating fund.

Brewer on Sept. 3 signed H2010, a budget bill relating to criminal justice funding, with the Governor’s Office saying she will “take additional action on remaining budget-related items tomorrow.”

The Governor’s Office did not elaborate on whether Brewer would take action on all of the seven remaining budget bills on Sept. 4, or if she would wait until the Sept. 5 deadline before signing or vetoing the last of the budget package.

The bill, H2010, ensures funding for the Department of Public Safety, which had been borrowing money from the state’s general fund to continue its operations. The bill allows DPS to spend money appropriated in a budget passed by the Legislature on July 1.

The bill also initiates the first steps of a proposal to privatize state prison facilities. It authorizes the Department of Administration, in consultation with the Department of Corrections, to issue requests for proposal to allow private vendors to operate facilities across the state. The state would receive up-front payments from the private vendors that would operate the prisons.

Brewer has now signed two bills from the nine-bill budget package approved by the Legislature. Some have speculated she will veto much of the budget over its lack of a ballot referral for a temporary one-cent sales tax increase she has sought.

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