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Spending money: Arizona politicians debate budget

PHOENIX — The focus is on taxpayer dollars at the Arizona Legislature this week.

Gov. Jan Brewer’s budget calls for $9.4 billion in spending while the Arizona Senate’s proposal calls for $9.18 billion. Now, it’s the House of Representatives’ turn to hold budget hearings and votes.

While budgets cover everything from education to public safety and taxes to transportation, there has been special attention paid lately to Arizona’s child welfare agency and a closer look reveals some key differences.

Brewer’s budget calls for $21.5 million to hire 93 staffers and start overhauling a computer system to track cases. The Senate budget calls for spending $15.3 million and adding 20 staffers.

Brewer is also asking for a $25 million fund to separate Child Protective Services from the Department of Economic Security and create a standalone agency known as Child Safety and Family Services.