Counties may press on for tobacco funds
Arizona counties won some and lost some in their battle to cash in on some of the $3 billion settlement tobacco companies have agreed to pay the state over the next 25 years.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Kenneth Mangum dismissed all but one of the six counts in the lawsuit brought by 11 counties seeking a share of the huge settlement reached between the state Attorney General's Office and tobacco companies.
Mangum, in a ruling this week, said the counties can sue the state for a share of the tobacco settlement as reimbursement for millions of dollars they have paid to care for poor, sick smokers.
The counties say they will settle for $2.58 billion, though they say their costs are far higher.
Arizona voters on Nov. 7 approved Proposition 204, which calls for spending the money on indigent health care.
In addition, the Legislature has set aside $80 million of tobacco money to build a new Arizona State Hospital for the mentally ill.
The state argues that the counties have no claim on the money because the 46-state settlement with the tobacco companies said that only states are beneficiaries.
But the counties counter that much of the settlement was based on their health-care costs.