Cuts to the state Department of Justice are back in the debate, as the state Senate takes up the budget today. The Senate is working off the Joint Finance Committee version of the state budget, and that means cuts to the state Department of Justice could be in a final budget bill.
"(Attorney General J.B.) Van Hollen was out there when he was campaigning, saying he could do more with less," said Majority Leader, Senator Russ Decker. "It's obvious that there were some needs there, and we did that in the last budget and the budget repair bill. We just think he needs to be in the mix with the other agencies."
Van Hollen had argued that his agency should have been granted exemptions from across the board budget cuts which, Van Hollen said, could have forced him cut key staffing positions. State Senate Minority Leader Scott Fitzgerald characterized the cuts as cuts as punitive and politically motivated. "There's no doubt in my mind," said Fitzgerald. "I think even some of the Democrats in the Assembly saw that."
And in fact Assembly leaders moved last week to restore $5.4 million dollars in DOJ funding. A spokesman for Van Hollen's office said they'd decline comment on the matter, until the Senate has completed its budget work.