Gov. Jan Brewer inked her approval Thursday to give an additional nearly $6.9 million immediately to the state’s child welfare agency.
The funding will pay for 192 new staffers for new Division of Child Safety and Family Services which is replacing the old Child Protective Services. That includes 126 caseworkers.
It is designed to deal with the increasing number of complaints of abuse and make a dent in the backlog of 10,000 cases that have been listed as inactive because they have not been addressed in at least two months.
Brewer, who made the request, wants lawmakers to fund an additional 86 caseworkers and 54 support staff in next year’s budget.
The governor also agreed to let state lawmakers spend $100,000 to fight subpoenas several of them have received in connection with the ongoing legal battle in federal court over SB 1070.
Several provisions of that controversial 2010 law dealing with illegal immigration already have been declared unconstitutional. But challengers are still trying to get a judge to void a section that requires police to question those they have stopped if there is reason to believe they are in this country illegally.
Foes hope to convince U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton that provision is illegal because it was motivated by racial animosity. And they are seeking emails of current and former lawmakers in an effort to make that claim.
The special appropriation was necessary because the state is required to defend legislators only when they are defendants in court actions. Here they are essentially witnesses being asked to produce documents.
Brewer also signed other bills to provide additional dollars for the Independent Redistricting Commission to defend its work in three lawsuits, one of which was filed by Republican legislative leaders, and to the Navigable Stream Adjudication Commission for its own legal expenses.