Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Monday, March 12, 2012

Redistricting -- Paying the Bills

On Friday, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission sent a letter to State Treasurer Doug Ducey and Department of Administration director Scott Smith regarding the continued need to pay bills even if they exceed the amount appropriated by the legislature. An excerpt of the letter:

Like other constitutional officers and entities, we have made an effort to work with the legislature and governor on the Commission’s budget and to obtain a supplemental appropriation.  However, we do not believe that your offices have legal authority to refuse to approve expenditures by the Commission on the grounds that they exceed the Commission’s legislative appropriation. 
Because the Constitution requires the Commission to perform its duties and the provisions are self-executing, the Treasurer’s payment of the necessary expenses in carrying out these duties is a constitutional appropriation.  I’ve enclosed a copy of Crozier v. Frohmiller, 65 Ariz. 296, 179P.2d 445 (1947), which establishes this principal. 
Here, the Commission’s ability to carry out the will of the people as expressed in Proposition 106 is in jeopardy if you refuse to pay bills associated with the Commission’s work.  Any action or inaction by the Legislature and the Governor through the appropriations process cannot be used to shut down the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission and render it defenseless any more than the Legislature could pass a law, signed by the Governor, to eliminate the Commission or deprive any other constitutional office, officer or entity of adequate funding for that matter.
Given the independent status of the Commission and the steps taken to remove it from the control of the legislative and executive branches of government, it is critical that the appropriations process not be used as a means for interference with the Commission’s constitutional duties. 
Time is of the essence.  The Commission will most likely exhaust its current appropriation in mid-March and our work will not yet be completed.  Therefore, I am requesting that you notify me by March 14, 2012, whether the Department of Administration will continue to review bills approved by me, the Commission’s Executive Director, and whether your offices will authorize and pay bills as proper expenditures even if they exceed the Commission’s legislative appropriation.
If the Commission is not provided this assurance, then I may have no choice but to seek judicial relief.  This could have the unfortunate consequence of accruing additional legal fees. 
Stay tuned.

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