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Health Dept. outlines cuts to non-mandated services (access required)

With much of its budget locked in by federal and state mandates, the Arizona Department of Health Services would have to reduce crisis services and cut back on treatment for the mentally ill, substance abusers and sexually violent offenders in the state hospital if it had to chop 15 percent from its budget.

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Behind open doors, states track stimulus money

What do an FBI fraud team, a showdown between a governor and the legislature, and a sophisticated online system called geographic information systems have in common? All are part of states' efforts to ensure that billions in federal stimulus money are spent wisely within their borders.

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Redistricting predictions: Rural areas might lose seats (access required)

The balance of power in Arizona government may shift a little further toward the Phoenix metro area when the state's legislative and congressional district boundaries are redrawn. As a result, rural areas might wind up with less representation than they have now. Determining with any precision where the district lines will be in 2012, when Arizona's Independent Redistricting Commission will finish redrawing the boundaries, is a nearly impossible task.

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Farmers, ranchers fear budget cuts to Agriculture Dept. (access required)

As Arizona continues to grapple with declining government revenue, the state's farming and ranching communities are warning that the Arizona Department of Agriculture has stretched its dollars to the limit. And the situation could grow worse, as Gov. Jan Brewer in September ordered state agencies to draft plans that predict the immediate effects on departments if their budgets are cut another 15 percent.

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Thrasher to run again for D-10 House seat

A North Phoenix music teacher is hoping to return to the Legislature in 2011 and avenge a narrow defeat in last year's election. Jackie Thrasher, who one term served in the House before being defeated in last fall's election, announced Oct. 15 that she is running for the House next year.

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Bare-bones Revenue Department would eliminate audits (access required)

An unintended consequence of a veto last month means the state agency tasked with collecting taxes is on the verge of laying off more than half of its staff, barring a budget fix to allow access to all of the money lawmakers gave it earlier this year. Anthony Forschino, the agency's assistant director, said the layoffs would still allow the Department of Revenue to function, but in a bare-bones manner.

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