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Brewer approves $50 million in stimulus money for Corrections

Gov. Jan Brewer on Sept. 18 approved the use of $50 million in federal stimulus money to help pay the salaries of Department of Corrections officers.

The $50 million is the first portion awarded by Brewer from a pool of stimulus money called the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund Government Services Fund. The $185 million pool can be used by the governor for essentially any government services she wants.

The money will pay the salaries of 1,305 corrections officers for the first five pay periods of the 2010 fiscal year, according to the Governor’s Office. The Governor’s Office of Strategic Planning and Budgeting and the Joint Legislative Budget Committee agreed to use the money for the Department of Corrections in budget negotiations to offset other expenses, according to Tasya Peterson, a spokeswoman for the Governor’s Office of Economic Recovery. The agency is charged with overseeing Arizona’s use of its federal stimulus money.

“I have long emphasized that I will do everything in my power to see that public safety in the State of Arizona is not compromised,” Brewer said in a press release. “By choosing to award the Arizona Department of Corrections $50 million from the Government Services Fund, I have made good on my commitment to mitigate funding cuts to such vital services as public safety and support our dedicated correctional officers.”

The rest of the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund is an $832 pool of stimulus money dedicated to education funding. Brewer spokesman Paul Senseman said $185 million in discretionary funds will go toward the agencies and areas the governor has prioritized since taking office.

“There’s three priority areas (for the discretionary funds) – education, public safety and our state’s most vulnerable populations,” Senseman said. He said Brewer will make announcements regarding the use of other portions of the discretionary stimulus money over the next couple weeks.

The Department of Corrections suffered about $35 million in budget cuts for the 2010 fiscal year, according to department spokesman Barrett Marson.

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