Arizona AG Mayes criticizes 2024 state budget over opioid settlement reallocations

A budget battle came to a close over the weekend as politically divided Arizona lawmakers passed the 2024 budget.

But, not everyone is happy.

It took lawmakers 160 days to get it done, but it was passed by June 15 late at night.

Arizona faced a deficit of over a billion dollars compared to the $2.2. billion surplus in 2023.

Doug Cole of HighGround, Inc. says the divided Arizona government, with a Democratic governor and a slight legislative Republican majority, faced the challenge of balancing the budget on a deficit.


Arizona lawmakers pass budget closing $1.4 billion deficit

Arizona lawmakers approved a bipartisan budget deal Saturday that erases a $1.4 billion shortfall by curbing spending on higher education, trimming funding for state agencies, and raiding a host of special funds.

"There were no huge policy points that were made in this budget. The budget has to get done, unlike the federal budget. Arizona’s constitution requires that the budget is balanced at the start of the fiscal year," he explained. "You got the middle of both parties coming together to get this budget across the finish line."

Republican Warren Peterson says lawmakers were able to meet initiatives like border security and transportation without incurring any debt or dipping into the rainy day fund.

"This was a bipartisan budget. Focused on shrinking government, we cut the overall budget by 10%," Peterson said.

Not everyone is pleased.

In a scathing statement, Democratic Attorney General Kris Mayes decried the budget’s passing, specifically the plans to reallocate funds from the opioid settlement.

Prompted by a nationwide settlement with pharmaceutical companies accused of furthering the opioid epidemic, Arizona received $1.14 billion over 18 years.

She claims that money is now at risk and called the move an "egregious grab." Mayes blasted Republican lawmakers and fellow Democrat, Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs.

"Though I repeatedly warned them this is an unlawful use of these funds," Mayes said in part, "They proceeded with moving forward anyways."

She adds, "I refuse to release these funds in this way."

FOX 10 reached out to Hobbs’ office for a chance to respond but did not hear back.

The governor did post on social media about the budget saying responsible choices were made and that more work needs to be done.

Mayes’ office told FOX 10 that more will be said on the opiod fund issue in the next few days.

Governor Hobbs also has about 50 or so bills on her desk that she has ten days, not counting Saturdays or holidays, to deal with. If she does not sign or veto them, they automatically become law.