An Arizona lawmaker wants voters to approve shifting money from an early childhood program to help fund the Child Protective Services agency.

Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, told the Arizona Capitol Times that because of the need to investigate backlogged cases, shifting the money is the best option.

Kavanagh, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, said he plans to introduce a bill that would put the measure on the November general election ballot. Voter OK is needed because the money would come from the voter-approved First Things First, which aims to improve education and health care for pre-school children.

The program was passed in November 2006 and is funded by an 80-cent-per-pack tax on cigarettes.

CPS has been plagued by understaffing, turnover and a significant increase in the number of cases being referred to it in recent years. In November, state officials revealed there were 6,500 child abuse and neglect reports that had gone uninvestigated over the last four years.

Gov. Jan Brewer named a special team to look into the cases, find out what happened and make recommendation for change. The team is working its way through the cases now.