Farmers sue state over funds

Sept. 16, 2008 at 11:23 AM
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PHOENIX, Sept. 16 (UPI) -- Arizona farmers say the state acted illegally when it used $160,000 in agricultural funds to help balance the state budget.

In a lawsuit, farm groups have asked the Maricopa County Superior Court to reimburse the money and stop the state from taking any more, The Arizona Republic reported Tuesday.

The farmers said the money used to shore up the state's general fund for the year ending June 30 was voluntarily given by farmers to pay for research grants and was to be held in trust by the state until the grants were awarded, the Republic reported.

"You could argue that, in the spectrum of things, this is not a lot of money," but it's the principle that counts, said Joe Sigg, a spokesman for the Arizona Farm Bureau Federation.

Jeanine L'Ecuyer, a spokeswoman for Gov. Janet Napolitano, told the Republic that state officials don't agree with the premise that the farmers' money is off-limits for other budget needs.

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