Testimony of Secretary of State Janice K. Brewer
In front of the Joint Meeting of the Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Welfare
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, my name is Janice Brewer, Arizona Secretary of State.
Let me first take a moment to thank our assigned budget analysts, Marcel Benberou from the Governors Office of Strategic Planning and Budgeting, and Jake Corey from the Joint Legislative Budget Committee. Both of these individuals have been forthcoming with their information, helpful to my staff as we transitioned into a new office, and available when we needed them. I appreciate their review of my Department of State budget.
With the exception of a few recommendations that I will briefly discuss, my office generally concurs with the JLBC recommendation.
Southern Arizona Office
Most members of the Committee may already know that the Secretary of States Southern Arizona Office was formerly located in shared space within the Governors Office.
Unfortunately, just prior to my taking office we were informed that the Secretary of State must vacate from this previously shared space. Such a decision to separate was not at my request, and took us by surprise.
There is no question in my mind that the services we are providing down in Tucson are extremely important to the many customers we serve. In fact, over the past 6 months, our office has processed:
In short, I feel it is extremely important to continue providing business and election services to the thousands of residents in Southern Arizona. But the fact is that the capital and operating budget for Tucson was not incorporated into my budget.
I would very much ask the committee to consider this necessary workload as part of my departments future budget needs.
Though my office is still not yet clear what the exact final cost of the 2002 elections will amount to until all of the county expenses are fully tabulated, I am reasonably certain that we will be able to cover the States financial obligations this year and I will not be seeking a supplemental budget to cover these costs.
I note in this years recommendation, however, that JLBC has chosen to no longer account for my Election budget separate and distinct from my Business Services and Administrative budget, choosing instead to lump them all together, then divide the combined divisions into line-item spending.
I am not certain of the wisdom in the approach of combining elections with the rest of my budget, but I would only remind members that much of my elections budget is mandated service. I have no control over the costs incurred by counties. In many cases, my office must simply pay the bills as they come in.
By combining these two distinct budgets into one, I am not certain a court of law would uphold my claims in the future that we dont have funding for an election.
In addition, I am very concerned that the Elections budget in some years, could eat up all the money budgeted for the entire office. Having the funding separate into two divisions, keeps it manageable.
One last item with regards to elections, there is absolutely no funding in my budget for any new statewide ballot measure. Thus, if the legislature determines they want to refer a bonding measure or any other item to the ballot this year, the State must provide funds to print, label, and provide postage for sample ballots. And, we will be required to print a publicity pamphlet for each and every household with a voter (last year that was 1.4 million households).
The Help America Vote Act of 2002 was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush this past fall. Because this is "Civil Rights" legislation, we are specifically forbidden from saying these new federal requirements for election reform are "unfunded mandates." They are not.
So let me put it this way, we have important new election reform requirements from the federal government in which monies are not fully identified.
The good news is that Congress is on the verge of providing a substantial amount of federal dollars provided that each state puts forward a 5% match. Our initial review indicates that Arizona would qualify for $58 million in federal aid to fund a centralized voter registration system, get rid of punch card ballot machines, and many other important new requirements.
The bad news is that our estimates of the 5 percent match for Arizona is $2.588 million. If we do not put that money forward, we cannot receive any of the $58 million federal money, yet we are still required to create the centralized voter registration database, still be required to buy non-punch card ballot machines, and still required to meet the other federal requirements. As some would say, you can invest $2.5 million now, or we may very well have to foot the whole $58 million later on.
To date, the JLBC and OSPB budgets have not identified funding for the State of Arizonas 5 percent HAVA match.
I also just wanted to quickly point out that under the line-item operating budget recommendations from JLBC, there are several reductions which could be problematic for my office
In-State Travel: was reduced from $26,200 in FY 02 to $3,000 in this years proposal. However, the Secretary of State uses these funds to travel around the state and conduct logic and accuracy tests as well as certifying all the election equipment before each of the statewide elections. We are required to conduct this certification process.
This past fall, the final in-state travel just for the certification process totaled $14,000. My office also uses in-state travel to conduct notary training seminars and voter education classes.
Employee Related Expenditures (ERE): JLBC & OSPB have continuously missed on the final amount of benefits which our office has needed to pay out for ERE. This year you propose reducing from $368,300 down to $282,300. My office remains concerned that the recommendation for ERE is once again too low.
Other Operating Expenditures: The line-item was reduced by $315,000 from last year, yet this is the line item in which we do all of our office expenses, printing, phones, postage and maintenance in our facilities. That seems like a large reduction in that line-item
Want LUMP SUM??? I think the point Im making here is that many of the JLBC recommended line-items create their own set of problems in managing my office. And I would respectfully request as an Elected Official who stands by her reputation as a "fiscal conservative," that the Committee consider allowing me to continue Lump sum budgeting.
No money for Transition???
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