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Income Inequality in Arizona

The income gap between Arizona’s richest and poorest households is the 2nd widest in the nation, according to a new report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Economic Policy Institute. As of the late 2000s (2008-2010, the most recent data available), a snapshot of household income shows a troubling picture. The average income of the richest fifth of Arizona households was 10 times greater than that of the poorest and 3 times that of middle income households.

Income inequality threatens Arizona’s ability to create the workforce we need to compete in tomorrow’s economy. Falling incomes make it harder for poor parents to move their families up the economic ladder. And low family income adds huge challenges to educational success.

As Arizona policymakers prepare for the new year, they should focus on policies that narrow rather than widen income inequality to help Arizona recover from the downturn and grow our economy for the future. Recommendations include:

  • Invest in affordable quality child care.
  • Improve the tax system so that low-income families don’t pay more than their fair share.  
  • Improve the unemployment insurance system so that Arizonans don’t fall into poverty while they are looking for new jobs. 
  • Strengthen K- 12 education so that every young Arizonan has a shot at the American dream.

The joint CBPP/EPI report, as well as a press release and state fact sheets, are available here.

What’s In The State Agency Budget Requests?

A few weeks ago we reported on the Department of Economic Security’s budget request. Today we want to provide an overview of other agency budget requests.

Of the nine major agencies, only the Department of Corrections has a higher budget today than what they had in fiscal year 09.

The funding requests for next year include:

  • AHCCCS Health Coverage: The request shows a mixture of costs and savings with many transitions happening in health care. Lifting the enrollment freeze for adults without children at home would bring back coverage for about 117,000 people and save the state $36 million in fiscal year 2014 thanks to federal matching funds. AHCCCS will begin to cover children in families with incomes up to 133% of the federal poverty level, adding 21,000 children at a net state cost of $5 million next year. It is projected that process changes and the economy will lead to 26,600 more people covered through existing AHCCCS programs with a total state cost of $111 million. The budget request does not include the new health care exchange.
  • Arizona Department of Education: Restoring state funding for adult education and GED programs and funding a multiyear project to replace the current student data system. No restoration of past cuts to the classroom.
  • Universities: Continuing the performance funding formula and the multi-year plan for per-student parity between ASU and NAU.
  • Prisons: Start-up costs and partial-year operational costs for the new state prisons and private prisons that the legislature has authorized; additional correctional officers; repairing or replacing buildings at the Yuma prison.

See our summary chart here for the state agency budgets. Although state revenues are slowly recovering from the recession, the loss of the temporary sales tax revenues next year means the budget will again be extremely tight. The legislature’s budget office shows a balanced budget for the next few years only if agency funding remains at its current low levels.

President and CEO Dana Wolfe Naimark on KAET’s Horizon, discussing the recently released child fatality report

Child Fatality Report – Arizona Horizon

837 Arizona kids died last year according to the Arizona Child Fatality Review Program’s 19th annual report. The overall number of child deaths continues to decline, but homicides and suicides are on the rise. Find out more about the report from Will Humble, Director of the State Department of Health Services, and Dana Wolfe Naimark, President and CEO of Children’s Action Alliance.

View video segment

The Election is (Nearly) Over…Tell Us What’s Next

It is one week after the election and the votes are literally still being counted. With most of the results settled, Arizona has 17 Republicans and 13 Democrats in the state Senate. Only two senators are brand new to the legislature: Bob Worsley from Mesa and Kelli Ward, a physician from Mojave County. Based on current vote counts, the state House has 36 Republicans and 24 Democrats with 26 people brand new to the state legislature. Andy Biggs from Gilbert is the new Senate President and Andy Tobin from Yavapai County remains the Speaker of the House. Leah Landrum Taylor from South Phoenix was elected the new minority leader in the senate and Chad Campbell from Central Phoenix remains the minority leader in the House. The elections give us an opportunity to turn newly elected legislators into champions for children while in office.

Proposition 204 was defeated with a decisive 65% NO vote statewide. The reasons are many, including expensive legal challenges that diverted attention and resources from the main message, politicians and lobbyists who went all out to preserve their own power, and huge investments from out-of-state groups. I think it is also clear that voters are wary of “permanent tax increases” and want more assurance about how their dollars will be invested for education.

All of the discussion throughout the campaign from both sides made it clear that education must be a top priority for Arizona’s success. There is broad consensus that current funding for education is insufficient for that success.

Together we face the challenges ahead of improving children’s education, health, and security as the temporary sales tax expires and the fiscal cliff looms at the federal level. I am interested in your analysis of the election and your suggestions on how we can move forward. Please reply to this e-mail – we welcome your input.

With the spirit and energy of supporters like you across the state, Children’s Action Alliance stands ready to inform and mobilize action for kids with our new state legislature. Thank you.

Dana_Wolfe_Naimark

Sincerely,

Dana Wolfe Naimark
President and CEO

Abuse deaths on CPS’ watch rise

Number of deaths in 2011 highest in 6-year period.

While the number of child fatalities in Arizona has decreased significantly over the past six years, the number of deaths due to maltreatment edged up last year. Still, the number of maltreatment-death cases in which Child Protective Services had been actively investigating or had previous involvement nearly doubled from 2010 to 2011. The statistics were contained in a statewide review of child fatalities released Tuesday.

Read more here

Arizona Falls Behind as U.S. Makes Progress Covering Kids

The US Census Bureau recently released data painting a very different picture of children in Arizona versus the rest of the country. Only two states have worse rates of health coverage for kids.

children-without-health-insurance-2011

Only 40% of children in our state are covered with health insurance through their parents’ employer, as shown by this chart

health-insurance-coverage-type-for-children-2011

KidsCare II is open!

 

KidsCare-Button-art

Good news for Arizona’s children! AHCCCS is still accepting applications for KidsCare II. KidsCare II, like the original KidsCare, provides health insurance for uninsured children in families who make too much to qualify for AHCCCS, but who cannot afford private health insurance. KidsCare II has low monthly premiums and covers children from head to toe, including vision, dental, and behavioral health coverage. Families can make up to 175% of the federal poverty level, or about $40,000 annually for a family of four.

If you need help applying for KidsCare II, please call 1-800-377-3536 from throughout Arizona. If you think your child may be eligible, apply today before KidsCare II again closes to new enrollment.

CAA has flyers available to distribute to families who may be eligible for KidsCare II. Please contact Cheryl Worthy at cworthy@azchildren.org if you would like hard copies of these flyers to distribute.

 

KidsCare II re-opening today!

KidsCare-Button-artGood news for Arizona’s children! AHCCCS has announced that KidsCare II will begin accepting new applications today for a limited time. KidsCare II, like the original KidsCare, provides health insurance for uninsured children in families who make too much to qualify for AHCCCS, but who cannot afford private health insurance. KidsCare II has low monthly premiums and covers children from head to toe, including vision, dental, and behavioral health coverage. Families can make up to 175% of the federal poverty level, or about $40,000 annually for a family of four.

If you need help applying for KidsCare II, please call 1-800-377-3536 from throughout Arizona. If you think your child may be eligible, apply today before KidsCare II again closes to new enrollment.

CAA has flyers available to distribute to families who may be eligible for KidsCare II. Please contact Sheryl Worthy at sworthy@azchildren.org if you would like hard copies of these flyers to distribute.

Arizona Falls Behind as U.S. Makes Progress Covering Kids

The US Census Bureau recently released data painting a very different picture of children in Arizona versus the rest of the country. Only two states have worse rates of health coverage for kids.

Only 40% of children in our state are covered with health insurance through their parents’ employer, as shown by this chart