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Kristi’s Kids: Top 4 budget cuts that harmed Arizona’s children

Controversial bills took center stage this legislative session

Kristi’s Kids: Top 4 budget cuts that harmed Arizona’s children

Session has Ended…More Work to be Done

az capitol building 203In the wee hours of the morning on Thursday, the Arizona Legislature adjourned its regular session. Most of CAA’s work this session has been centered on improving and properly funding efforts to protect children from abuse and neglect and to keep families strong. A few bills that impact children and families, however, were passed in the last days of the session; here’s the legislative update:

HB 2526 Consumer Lender Loans – HB 2526 raises the amount that can be loaned at the high 36% annual interest rate and doubles the origination fees that can be charged. After this bill passed the legislature, Children’s Action Alliance urged Governor Brewer to veto it but she gave it her approval on April 17th.

SB 1386 Supplemental Appropriation; External CPS Review – This bill provides $250,000 for the AZ Department of Administration to hire an independent consultant to review CPS. SB 1386 unanimously passed the House and Senate and is awaiting the Governor’s signature.

HB 2508 Insurance Navigator Regulations – HB 2508 requires Navigators and Certified Application Counselors to apply for a license though the AZ Department of Insurance (DOI) starting October 1, 2014. The DOI would facilitate background checks and fingerprinting for new health insurance assistors. Navigators and CACs who have already passed a background check before October 1st would not be required to undergo another check. The Governor signed the bill on April 22nd.

HB 2454 Human Trafficking; Prostitution – HB 2454 makes many changes to state law seeking to protect human sex trafficking victims. It increases criminal penalties for “johns” and “pimps” with a focus on children who are 15, 16 or 17 years of age. Sex trafficking victims (even children) are not immune from criminal prosecution, but it is an affirmative defense to prosecution if the acts of prostitution are a direct result of being a victim of sex trafficking. The Governor signed the bill on April 22nd.

Governor Brewer is expected to call a Special Session in May or June to address the set-up and budget of the new state Department of Child Safety and Family Services. There will be opportunities for you to be a strong voice for kids during that brief but important session.

6 state workers fired in wake of police review of neglected cases

Fired CPS Workers’ Attorney: ‘They Were Scapegoats’

CBS 5 – KPHO

Avoid the Tax Day Blues

In the last minute rush to file state and federal income taxes, Arizonans may want to consider the return on investment we get for our tax dollars. 

iStock_000015988189Small ovalOur tax dollars educate more than 1 million Arizona children annually. Tax dollars support public education. More than two of every five state general-fund dollars are invested in K-12 education. Tax dollars pay teachers’ salaries, provide textbooks and computers, and build and maintain schools.

State tax dollars provide health insurance for over 1 million Arizona children and adults. Arizona voters repeatedly confirm health care as a top priority.

Our tax dollars help keep us safe. Tax dollars are used to help keep our water safer to drink and our air safer to breathe and to monitor the safety of our food.  Tax dollars are used to pay health inspectors to monitor the safety of restaurants, child care centers and nursing homes. Tax dollars are also how we pay police officers, firefighters and soldiers.

State tax dollars protect children from abuse and neglect. Our state tax dollars pay for child abuse prevention programs, child protective service staff to investigate reports of abuse or neglect, foster parents who care for children when their own parents aren’t up to the job, and services to help families get back on-track.

Click here for more information about Arizona’s individual income taxes.

Would you hire Shanesha Taylor?

FY 15 Budget – How It Adds Up for Kids

accounting machineAlthough Governor Brewer signed off on most of the $9.2 billion budget approved by the Legislature last week, she used her line-item veto authority to free up $4 million in state money for the new Child Safety and Family Services (CSFS) agency. 

To learn more about how the new budget affects Arizona’s children and families, see our latest budget chart.

Governor Brewer vetoed all the funding for the legislature’s ombudsman-citizens aide office, including $200,000 in new funding intended to add two additional staff to that office to handle questions and complaints about CPS cases. Her veto message stated that “it is premature to appropriate additional [CPS] resources when the case load impact has not yet been determined and overall resources for the new agency are still being analyzed.”

In signing the budget, Governor Brewer was very clear that more remains to be done on child safety.   She stated that the success of the new agency will “….not only require a strong administrative and operational structure, but also sufficient resources.”  CAA expects the Governor to call the legislature into a special session this May or June to pass legislation creating the new child safety agency and to address the budget issues.

Shanesha Taylor’s story touches everyone … but the Arizona Legislature