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Legislature poised to challenge Brewer on federal money

The Senate gave its preliminary approval on Monday to a bill that seeks to wrestle control over federal funds from the governor.

Currently, most federal money, such as that intended for special education or Medicaid, is funneled through the Governor’s Office.

The Legislature has long sought to have the authority to appropriate those funds. The push to do so was reinvigorated with the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The federal stimulus plan gave state governors — not legislators — wide latitude over its implementation.

After surviving a floor debate today, HB2577 is now ready for a formal vote, which could happen this week.

If it wins approval, it would be lawmakers’ second attempt under Brewer to take control over the appropriation of federal funds.

The issue has been a perennial point of contention between the two branches of government. Republican and Democratic governors have rejected the idea.

Sen. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu City, said the challenge for Brewer is to resist the “human nature of consolidating power.”

But critics said the legislation would upset the balance between the branches of government that the state’s founding fathers had designed.

Actually, Brewer vetoed a similar bill in 2009.

In her veto letter, Brewer said subjecting federal funds to legislative appropriation would unnecessarily complicate the administration of programs funded by the federal government, and divert lawmakers’ attention away from creating real solutions to the state’s fiscal woes.
She also said it’s not the answer to the state’s budget crisis.

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