PHOENIX - Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik need not apply for a share of funds in the Senate budget plan to fight border crime.
A provision buried in one of the 13 budget bills approved late Wednesday spells out that the first $1.6 million of available money go to the sheriff of a county with a population of more than 3 million. That applies only to Maricopa County.
The next $500,000 is earmarked for a sheriff in a county of between 300,000 and 500,000, with only Pinal County meeting that definition. And if there's anything left, it can be allocated to other counties or cities.
But not Pima County: SB 1621 spells out any county with a population between 500,00 and 2 million "shall not receive any monies from the Gang and Immigration Intelligence Team Enforcement mission fund."
"That was by design," Senate President Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, told Capitol Media Services. "The sheriff says he's not going to enforce the law. Why would I fund him?"
Dupnik last year said his agency would not enforce some provisions of the state's new immigration law.
Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Tucson, said she believes something more is at work.
She said Dupnik angered conservatives by linking the Jan. 8 shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords to the negative tone of political rhetoric. The sheriff also said Arizona had become "the mecca of prejudice and bigotry."
"It's another effort by the tea party Republicans in the Senate against an Arizona sheriff who stood up for the victims of the Jan. 8 shooting," Lopez said. Six were killed and 13 injured, including Giffords.
Pearce said Dupnik's remarks had nothing to do with the funding decision.
"The name calling, we're used to it," he said.
Dupnik isn't talking much about the legislative snub.
"I am extremely concerned with the specific and deliberate exclusion of Pima County, and only Pima County, from any funding," he said in a written statement. But the sheriff, while refusing further comment, indicated he's not just going to accept the decision, promising that his lawyers will "thoroughly scrutinize the proposed legislation."
The entire $8.1 billion budget package - including the provision aimed at Dupnik - now awaits House action.