A suit filed Thursday in Maricopa County asks a judge to prevent state officials from using money that came from a national foreclosure settlement.
The lawsuit would block Attorney General Tom Horne from giving the legislature $50 million to shore up the state budget. The money is from a national foreclosure settlement that forced banks to help homeowners affected by the housing crisis.
The Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest filed the suit, saying the money should not be put into the state’s general spending account, but instead should be used to specifically help homeowners. During the legislative session, Republican lawmakers said the money should go to the overall budget because the housing crisis affected the entire state, but Tim Hogan, the law center’s executive director, disagrees.
“The specific terms of the settlement are to use the money to provide counseling, mediation, legal assistance, education, outreach, a whole lot of things that this money could go for to help homeowners. And if it just gets taken by the legislature for the general fund, it’s never going to be used for those purposes," Hogan says.
The money is in Attorney General Tom Horne’s hands now, but when they passed the state budget lawmakers required him to hand it over to the state’s general fund.
The suit asks a judge to block Horne from giving lawmakers the money before July first, and then asks the judge to order the state to use the money on affected homeowners directly.