PHOENIX -- Arizona's state budget would strip Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone of $1.6 million for a task force that deters criminal gang activity, but would still appropriate money for the same task forces in Pinal and Pima counties.
The provision is included in the criminal justice section of the budget approved by the House's Appropriations Committee Wednesday on an 8-5 vote. Eight Republicans on the panel voted for the measure and all five Democrats voted against it. The proposal now advances to the full House for consideration.
Several Democrats questioned whether cutting the Gang and Immigration Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission funding from the state's most populous county was politically motivated after the Democratic sheriff defeated longtime Republican sheriff Joe Arpaio in November.
"We have a new Democratic sheriff in Maricopa County and then we have a new Republican sheriff in Pima County and so they've kept their funds but you've stripped all ...gang enforcement funds from the sheriff of Maricopa County," Democratic Rep. Mark Cardenas said during the committee hearing. "I'm wondering if anyone can answer why."