State lawmakers spent the day today picking apart the plan to create and fund a new Department of Child Safety. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer reports.
Many of the questions related to why Gov. Jan Brewer wants an additional $60 million above all the money lawmakers provided during the last three years. Sen. Chester Crandell said the number of cases of abuse and neglect dropped in 2009 and then jumped even as spending increased. And now he said lawmakers are being asked for more cash.
“I don’t mind as a state legislator in spending money on fixing problems that we have. But apparently we haven’t done the research to determine why we had in 2012 a huge jump and it continues to go up, and seems to have leveled off in 2015,” he said.
John Arnold, the governor’s budget director, said there’s normally a link between recession and abuse. But, he said that did not happen this time, even as Arizona’s caseload is increasing now, other states are showing a decline.
“We don’t have a good answer for you on why and what’s happened. We’re hopeful as we put better resources, as we separate this agency out, as we get them a real data system, that we’ll be able to have the kind of data that we need in the future that we need to tell that story,” he said.
Hearings continue through the afternoon, with final action on the plan now set for Thursday.