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State agencies outline impacts of budget cuts

ASU could lay off up to 1,550; DPS could sell aircraft

PHOENIX – Dozens of state agencies have projected how they would respond to budget reductions of 5, 10, 15 and 20 percent, listing cuts including mass layoffs of university personnel, truncating social-welfare services and shutting down police aviation units.

Agencies submitted reduction scenarios at the direction of Gov. Jan Brewer’s budget director, but Brewer’s office stressed that the submissions don’t represent a plan or proposal by the Republican governor to solve Arizona’s budget crisis.

Instead, Brewer spokesman Paul Senseman, Brewer and her staff will use the details on possible effects of budget cuts as a tool while preparing Brewer’s budget proposal and working with lawmakers on ways to close the $3 billion gap projected for the budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Brewer on March 4 outlined a three-pronged attack on the budget gap, proposing a $1 billion temporary tax increase, use of $1 billion of federal stimulus money and $1 billion of spending cuts or similar moves.

Brewer’s budget office made the agencies’ submissions available for inspection in response to public records requests by The Associated Press and other news organizations.

However, at least one agency, the Department of Economic Security, posted its submission online and privately briefed care providers and program advocates.

The Department of Public Safety said its first-tier cuts would start with steps that include reducing overtime pay and eliminating funding for county attorney gang prosecution. Middle-tiered steps would include selling one of two twin-engine airplanes, dramatically scaling back the counterterrorism intelligence center and eliminating the fraudulent identification task force.

To get a 20 percent cut, DPS said, it would sell off two helicopters and two airplanes and close aviation units in Kingman, Tucson and Flagstaff, leaving only the Phoenix operation with two helicopters and one twin-engine plane. That would mean 1,240 fewer law enforcement missions, 723 fewer for search and rescue and 391 fewer medical evacuations, the DPS said.

Arizona State University said cuts in its state-provided funding would require mass layoffs that likely would have to be targeted at professional and classified staff because student demand would limit possible cuts of faculty.

The reductions of 5-10-15-20 percents would require layoffs of 740, 1,010, 1,280 and 1,550 professional staff, the university said.

DES Director Linda Blessing said the higher-tiered percentage cuts of the department’s budget by themselves would severely crimp programs but also trigger big losses of federal funding for cash-assistance welfare and child care. For a 15 percent cut, Child Protective Services would shed programs to help families, the department said.

“It’s a complete unraveling of the mission of DES, of a human services system, of a safety net,” said Tim Schmaltz, coordinator for a coalition that lobbies for social-welfare services.

The Department of Education, the agency that runs K-12 school programs in Arizona, said its initial budget cuts would include taking $1 million from a program to help students pass the AIMS test. Higher percentage cuts would see bigger cuts in early childhood services.

The Department of Corrections’ submission listed an array of savings in operations, staffing and facilities but said it also would seek major pieces of potential savings targets through legislation to reduce the number of prison inmates. That would include having county jails house prisoners serving sentences of less than a year and expanding a home arrest program.

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