State budget deal includes relief for Maricopa County

A view of the Maricopa County Administration Building, 301 W. Jefferson St. in Phoenix. (Photo by Maricopa County)

Maricopa County supervisors expressed gratitude to the governor and Arizona lawmakers May 3 for a budget that frees counties of many of the financial burdens passed onto them since the Great Recession.

Since 2008, mandated cost shifts or direct contributions to the state of Arizona have cost Maricopa County more than $300 million.  The state budget deal eliminates or phases out most of those cost shifts.

Steve Chucri

“The tide has turned,” Chairman Steve Chucri, District 2, said in a release.

“I applaud Gov. Ducey, Speaker Mesnard, Senate President Yarborough and everyone who agreed with our position that, to build a better Arizona, counties must be fully supported.”

During the recession, counties helped the state by absorbing losses of revenue once allocated to counties (highway, lottery funds) and paying for certain services controlled by the state (juvenile corrections, department of revenue), according to the release.

Yearly costs to Maricopa County were as high as $30 million.  With the new budget, mandated cost shifts or direct contributions to the state will drop to approximately $4 million by fiscal year 2021.

“At the end of the day, the state should be paying their bills and we should be paying ours,” Vice Chairman Bill Gates, District 3, said in the release.

“I want to thank state lawmakers for doing what is right for counties and their constituents at a time when it might have been easy to just maintain the status quo,” he said.

One major cost to Maricopa County has been paying 100 percent of the salaries of Superior Court judges.  Every other Arizona county splits the cost of those salaries 50-50 with the state.  Maricopa County’s burden will drop to 75-25 in fiscal year 2020 will match other counties’ 50-50 split in fiscal year 2021.

Clint Hickman

“All we’ve asked is to be treated the same as everyone else,” Supervisor Clint Hickman, District 4, said in the release.

“I’m especially grateful to Sen. Rick Gray who helped convince his colleagues that singling out Maricopa County to pay more just because of our size isn’t fair,” he said.

“Passing on costs to counties was never a sustainable, long-term budget solution,” Supervisor Denny Barney, District 1, said in the release.

“I’m grateful to the governor and the leadership in the House and Senate for eliminating most of these temporary county cost shifts.  All of us on the board are hopeful this trend will continue,” he said.

The Queen Creek Independent is mailed each month to 35,000 homes.

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