Politics: Arizona secretary of state asks for bigger budget for 2020 election year, slams predecessor - - PressFrom - US
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Politics Arizona secretary of state asks for bigger budget for 2020 election year, slams predecessor

08:00  18 october  2019
08:00  18 october  2019 Source:   azcentral.com

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Arizona legislators voted this year to require the secretary of state send the proposed manual to the governor and attorney general no later than Oct. Hobbs agreed to include the change as part of a settlement in a voting rights lawsuit the Navajo Nation filed last year against her predecessor

Secretary of State Katie Hobbs is asking lawmakers to boost her budget before the 2020 election because of what she describes as the consequences of "severe mismanagement."

a group of people looking at the camera: Secretary of State Katie Hobbs mingles on the floor of the House of Representatives before Gov. Doug Ducey's State of the State address to the Legislature and guests gathered at the Arizona state Capitol on Jan. 14, 2019.© Tom Tingle/The Republic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs mingles on the floor of the House of Representatives before Gov. Doug Ducey's State of the State address to the Legislature and guests gathered at the Arizona state Capitol on Jan. 14, 2019.

Hobbs' request, made public Thursday, would increase her office's budget to more than $28 million for the fiscal year that starts in July and includes the 2020 election cycle.

An increase in the budget for the secretary of state's office is common in election seasons. This year, for example, her office was budgeted for $17 million from the state's general fund. It was budgeted for about $24 million for the last presidential election year.

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Arizona 's secretary of state requested more than million for next year 's President Preference Election but the budget only has half that amount.

Hobbs is seeking a $2 million increase in her office's general operating budget, as well as $4.2 million for one-time expenses such as cybersecurity improvements and IT upgrades.

a man wearing glasses and looking at the camera: Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs© Michael Chow/The Republic Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs

In a scathing letter accompanying the request, the Democrat called her proposed budget "a course correction" from the years of her predecessor, Michele Reagan.

While not naming the Republican former secretary of state, Hobbs described the office as having suffered from "irresponsible oversight of public resources for years."

The secretary of state went on to describe a 2017 contract with the document storage company Iron Mountain as questionable and costly.

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Hobbs also said the office will need money to cover the costs of maintaining the voter registration system.

The secretary of state also cited pay disparities among staff under the previous administration and said the office had been heavy with management positions.

Reagan, who lost in last year's Republican primary, could not be immediately reached.

"The people spoke last election cycle. I'm not really interested in beating a dead horse and bringing up the past administration. I am far more interested in the facts and the circumstances in the claims she has made," said Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, a Republican from Scottsdale who works on election policy.

Ugenti-Rita said she would use the time before the next session to look into the details of Hobbs' claims about the records management contract and her budget request.

Coming up: A fight over election spending

The budget request signals yet another fight over election spending. Hobbs took office at the same time legislators were setting to work on this year's budget and ended up sparring with lawmakers over money to match federal grants and for election services.

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Hobbs is requesting $5.2 million for election services such as sample ballots and the usual educational pamphlets. The request also includes money to cover what the secretary of state's office describes as the added costs that have come with new laws.

A law passed this year, for example, requires the secretary of state's office to register paid signature gatherers and signature gatherers from out of state.

"Every legislative session, the legislature is increasing requirements on the department without increasing the staff, especially in Elections," the request says.

Cybersecurity upgrade proposed

Hobbs is also asking lawmakers to increase her office's general operating budget by $2 million for costs from increased salaries to software, the state's Braille book library and communications for elections.

The request also calls for $4.2 million to cover one-time expenses that would include cybersecurity measures after an outside review of the office's protocols last year, plus tech upgrades and an addition to the Polly Rosenbaum Archives and History Building.

Contact Andrew Oxford at [email protected].

Cellphone user? See full four-page letter here.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Arizona secretary of state asks for bigger budget for 2020 election year, slams predecessor

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