Terry Goddard (D)

PHOENIX, Ariz. (Legal Newsline)-State budget woes in Arizona have forced the state attorney general to lay off 20 employees, including lawyers and support staff.

The layoffs, which came amid a state hiring freeze, leave about 611 full-time equivalent workers in Attorney General Terry Goddard's office.

"In response to the state budget deficit, our office is taking steps to economize in every way possible," Goddard said in a statement. "I am striving to provide maximum protection for Arizonans at minimum cost, recognizing that in time of economic downturn the services of the Attorney General's Office in fraud prevention, criminal prosecutions and collections are needed more than ever."

Arizona officials have been battling against an estimated $1.5 billion budget shortfall, which lawmakers are expected to address when the Legislature goes back into session this month.

Goddard spokeswoman Anne Hilby told Legal Newsline she could not comment on whether more layoffs in the Arizona Department of Law are looming.

She said the attorney general's office is budgeted for about 644 full-time equivalent positions, but only 526 full-time equivalent appropriated positions were filled as of Nov. 30, the agency's most recent internal audit.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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