During a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on Nov. 18, Sen. Russell Pearce, a Republican from Mesa who chairs the committee, offered an amendment that would have dictated how Pima and Maricopa counties would have to pay $22 million to the state.
Pearce said he was concerned that counties, if they are forced to give the money to the state, target spending cuts largely on law enforcement. He offered an amendment saying “if a county uses revenues from a fund other than the county’s general fund, the county shall withdraw a proportionate amount from each of the county’s funds…”
But Pearce later withdrew the amendment. He said it was meant to be a temporary fix.
“The (Maricopa County) Board said ‘Don’t worry about it, we will do it right.’ Pearce said. “I’m willing to trust them for the interim and then let us fix it right.”
If Pearce pushed through with his amendment, it was likely to fail in committee. Sen. Sylvia Allen, a Republican from Snowflake, said she made a commitment to leadership to move forward with the legislation without amendments.
In response to a question from reporters after the committee hearing, Pearce said Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio didn’t ask him to run the amendment.
“I’ve never had a conversation with Sheriff Arpaio on this,” he said.
Pearce said he has protected law enforcement for years. He said he thinks it is “immoral” for a county to reach into another elected official’s funds.
In the last budget go-round, the Legislature approved legislation requiring Maricopa County to transfer $19 million and Pima County $3 million into the state’s general fund. The provision was a part of S1025, which Brewer vetoed because the bill also would have repealed the state equalization tax.