BUDGET BATTLE: Paul Penzone expresses dismay over proposed state budget cuts

- Maricopa County sheriff Paul Penzone is not happy about the funding cuts to his office that are proposed in the state's $9.8 billion spending plan.

According to the plan, $1.6 million will be stripped from the MCSO, money that was meant to be used on drug and gang enforcement. On Thursday afternoon, Penzone held a news conference to talk about the proposed cuts.

"This does not affect me," said Penzone. "This affects the men and women who do the job."

Penzone said his department got a raw deal from the state legislature, and believes that happened, because he is a Democratic officeholder.

"This means that we will have less resources out in areas in the corridor to intercept drugs and drug traffickers, before they get into our community and neighborhoods," said Penzone.

Some lawmakers have mentioned that Penzone's department was not willing to use money to clame down on illegal immigration, and Penzone said he can't even do that, thanks to his predecessor, Joe Arpaio.

"We are restricted, prohibited, from being involved in immigration enforcement, due to the actions of my predecessor," said Penzone.

Penzone also had a plea to voters: remember these cuts.

"The question really becomes: are you comfortable with politicians making decisions on policing and public safety, and if not, please make sure that those who we've elected know that."

The Office of the Governor released the following statement:

Let's keep things in perspective. His budget is more than $350 million. I think $1.6 million to eliminate the rape kit backlog, and provide $400,000 for Pima County, is money well spent on public safety.

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