State Capitol News
3:38 pm
Thu July 16, 2009

Arizona education stimulus money delayed

Phoenix, AZ – State Treasurer Dean Martin is blaming the Obama administration
for a delay in stimulus funding. But there may be less there than meets the
eye.

Martin sent out a release late Wednesday blasting the U.S.
Department of Education for delaying release of about $443
million in funds. He claimed the state is facing -- quote --
endless bureaucratic red tape and constantly changing rules to
delay access to funds. And Martin said that delay required him to
borrow nearly $131 million to make a Wednesday payment due public
schools. Department of Education spokeswoman Sandra Abrevaya
acknowledged the state's request to draw down its funds raised
questions of whether the cash from the American Recovery and
Reinvestment Act would be used legally.

(When a state moves around the pieces as such when they take
their own local budget to pay for education and take ARRA dollars
and use it for something else, that's strictly prohibited under
law.)

Abrevaya said there's nothing political about the decision of her
agency to ask some questions. So far that's also the assessment
of Gov. Jan Brewer. Press aide Paul Senseman said the federal
agency wants more information on how the state structured its
budget. Senseman wouldn't say if Martin was being alarmist in his
complaints.

(He did not discuss this release with us, if that's what you're
asking.)

A conference call between state and local officials is set for
later today.