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A Successful Juvenile Justice and Fiscal Policy Event

imageOur forum on juvenile justice and fiscal policy was an overwhelming success, thanks to a packed house of community members and our partners at the Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University. The energy in the room showed an intense interest in this issue and a desire to work together to continue to keep youth out of the criminal justice system, as trends show an overall reduction in juvenile crime statewide.

We thank our attendees and participants for contributing to a robust and meaningful discussion:image

Moderator: Hon. Pat Escher

Panelists: Hon. Liz Archuleta, Coconino Co. Supervisor

Hon. Colleen McNally, Presiding Juvenile Court Judge, Maricopa County

Tim Hardy, Director, Yuma Co. Juvenile Justice Center

Dona Marie Markley, Asst. Director, Arizona Dept. of Juvenile Corrections

For those unable to attend Thursday’s forum, a copy of the new Morrison Institute report, Juvenile Justice in Arizona: The Fiscal Foundations of Effective Policy is available online.

Children’s Action Alliance Priority Bills for the 2016 Legislative Session

February 2, 2016

We have the latest news on proposed bills that will build children’s health, education and security, as well as bad ideas that will make it harder for children and families to succeed. Stay tuned for updates on committee assignments and hearings and how you can weigh in.

Good for Kids

HB 2309 and SB 1385:  Reinstating KidsCare

Sponsors:  Rep. Cobb and Sen. Begay

This bill opens opportunity for regular health care to approximately 30,000 uninsured children by lifting the temporary freeze on KidsCare health enrollment.  It uses 100% federal funding to open enrollment to qualified children in low-income, working families at no cost to the state budget.  Status:  HB 2309 has been assigned to the House Health and Appropriations Committees but has not yet been scheduled for a hearing. SB 1385 has been assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services and Appropriations committee.

HB 2063:  Cap on growth of corporate private school tax credit

Sponsor: Rep. Coleman

This bill adds fiscal accountability and control to the corporate tax credit that now balloons automatically every year.  The bill slows the growth of the corporate tax credit for private school student scholarships from 20% every year down to the greater of inflation or 2%.  It also lowers the amount that can be spent by School Tuition organizations for administrative costs from 10% to 5% of contributions – the rest must be spent on scholarships.  Status:  This bill has not been assigned to any committee.

HB 2452:  TANF cash assistance for children raised by grandparents

Sponsor:  Rep. Weninger

This bill keeps families together with financial assistance and stability.  It wipes out the “grandmother penalty” by allowing qualified children to participate in TANF cash assistance if they are living with their grandparents or other relatives in unlicensed foster care or if a court has granted legal custody to a relative.  Status:  This bill has been assigned to the House Children and Family Affairs Committee but has not yet been scheduled.

SB 1404:  Child Neglect Cases

Sponsor:  Sen. Hobbs

This bill will help improve child safety and keep families together by informing the Department of Child  Safety, the legislature, and the public about the patterns and factors shaping the growing number of reports of child neglect. The bill requires DCS to contract with a university to report on the characteristics of a one-week sample of reports of neglect.  Status:  This bill has been assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services committee.

HB 2389 and SB 1142:  Private contractors for DCS backlog  

Sponsors:  Rep. Allen and Sen. Lesko

These bills address the backlog of Department of Child Safety investigations and cases that haven’t been touched in 60 days or more. They require DCS to enter into contracts with private organizations by July 1, 2016 to complete investigations and provide case management  for the backlog cases, under plans approved by the Department.  Status:  HB 2389 has been assigned to the House Children and Family Affairs Committee; SB 1142 has been assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.  Neither bill has been scheduled for a hearing.

HB 2262:  Child care assistance  

Sponsor:  Rep. Brophy McGee

This bill helps employers, child care businesses, parents and children by improving the continuity of child care and sustaining federal child care funding for Arizona working families.  The bill has three major provisions:  1) participating families can’t lose assistance as long as their family income remains below 85% of the state median income; 2) the renewal process occurs not more than once a year; and 3) the department of economic security may reimburse child care providers at a higher rate if they meet a state-approved quality indicator.  Status:  This bill has been assigned to both the House Children and Family Affairs and Appropriations Committees, but has not yet been scheduled.

SB 1138 and HB 2327: TANF cash assistance lifetime limit

Sponsors: Sen. Hobbs and Rep. Friese

This bill protects children from poverty, hunger, domestic violence, and homelessness by restoring the 24 month lifetime limit for families participating in TANF cash assistance.  Status:  SB 1138 has been assigned to both the Senate Health and Human Services and Appropriations Committees; HB 2327 has been assigned to both the House Children and Family Affairs and Appropriations Committees. Neither bill has been scheduled for a hearing.

SB 1308: Juvenile Detention

Sponsor:  Senator Gail Griffin

This bill would improve conditions and outcomes for youth.  It would allow a criminal court judge to order that a youth who is awaiting trial in adult court be detained in a juvenile detention facility rather than in a county jail holding adult offenders.  Many counties have a difficult time providing appropriate and required services for the very small number of youth in their custody.  Status:  This bill has been assigned to both the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety, Military and Technology Committees, but has not yet been scheduled.

Bad Idea

HB 2482 and SB 1279: Empowerment Scholarships; Expansion; Phase-In

Sponsors:  Rep. Olson and Sen. Lesko

Beginning in the 2016-17 school year, any child who attends a public school in kindergarten through 5th grade is eligible for an Arizona empowerment scholarship account. Beginning in the 2017-18 school year, any child who attends a public school in kindergarten through 8th grade is eligible for an Arizona empowerment scholarship account. Beginning in the 2018-19 school year, any child who attends a public school in kindergarten through 12th grade is eligible for an Arizona empowerment scholarship account. Status:  HB 2482 was passed by the House Ways and Means Committee on a 5-3 vote. SB 1279 has been assigned to the Senate Education and Finance Committees, and is scheduled to be heard Thursday, February 4th in the Senate Education Committee.

HCR 2037:  First Things First early childhood learning

Sponsor:  Rep. Borrelli

This resolution would ask Arizonans to vote for a third time on their commitment to dedicate tobacco tax funds to children five and younger so that they arrive at school healthy and ready to succeed. The bill would cut $99 million out of $122 million in tobacco tax funding from learning programs to prepare children for kindergarten and would shift the funds to charter schools and school districts for literacy for children ages 5-7. This shift would dismantle Arizona’s partnerships for early learning and eliminate at least $30 million in federal funds coming to Arizona each year.  The evidence is overwhelming that third grade reading won’t improve if fewer children are prepared for kindergarten.  Status:  This bill was scheduled for a January 27th hearing in the House Education Committee, but was held by Chairman Boyer, who withdrew his support for the proposal. 

HCR 2044:  School Monies; Early Childhood Literacy

Sponsor:  Rep. Borrelli

The 2016 general election ballot is to carry the question of whether to amend state statute to require the first $30 million of monies from the Early Childhood Development and Health Fund to be spent on programs that qualify as matching state expenditures under the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014, and to require additional monies from the Fund to be transferred to the Department of Education to be distributed to school districts and charter schools to provide early childhood literacy programs for children between zero and seven years of age. Each school district and charter school is eligible to receive $1,162 per student enrolled in 3rd grade if sufficient monies are deposited in the Fund, or a pro rata reduced per pupil amount. Beginning in FY2020-21, the Dept is required to reduce the monies transferred to a school district or charter school by a percentage of the amount that would otherwise be due that is equal to the percentage of 3rd grade students who are not promoted to 4th grade due to reading below grade level. Also, if at the end of a fiscal year unexpended and unencumbered monies remain in the Fund, the first $5 million is transferred to the Internet Crimes Against Children Enforcement Fund. Status:  This bill has not yet been assigned to a committee.

Arizona Organizations, Your Support is Needed to Reinstate KidsCare

Cloud 5As you know, the Cover Kids Coalition is supporting efforts to unfreeze the KidsCare program in Arizona, currently the only state in the country without a Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). A recent study by Georgetown University and Children’s Action Alliance found more than 160,000 Arizona children do not have health coverage, the second highest rate of uninsured kids in the nation.

Congressional funding provides 100% of the costs of reinstating KidsCare for the next two years, an opportunity that is too important to pass up. There is bipartisan support in the legislature for lifting the temporary freeze on KidsCare:  HB 2309 is sponsored by Representatives Regina Cobb, Heather Carter, Jay Lawrence, Kate Brophy McGee and Eric Meyer, as well as Senator Carlyle Begay.

We need your support to make this a reality, and provide children from working poor families the chance to get healthy and stay healthy. Join our growing coalition of Arizona organizations who are speaking up to Unfreeze #KidsCare by filling in this form and clicking “submit.”

As more supporters join, we’ll update the list we distribute with this KidsCare Fact Sheet.

cover kids coalition logoOrganizations Supporting Reinstatement of KidsCare

as of March 3, 2016

Cover Kids is a broad coalition of organizations dedicated to strengthening access to quality health coverage for Arizona children.

AARP, Arizona
Adelante Health Care
Agave Pediatrics
American Academy of Pediatrics, Arizona
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
Arc of Arizona
Arizona Academy of Family Physicians
Arizona AFL-CIO
Arizona Alliance for Community Health Centers
Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans
Arizona Association for Foster and Adoptive Parents
Arizona Association of Health Plans
Arizona Association of Providers for People with Disabilities
Arizona Asthma Coalition
Arizona Autism Coalition
Arizona Coalition to End Homelessness
Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence
Arizona Community Action Association
Arizona Council of Human Service Providers
Arizona Dental Association
Arizona Family Health Partnership
Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation
Arizona Grandparent Ambassadors
Arizona Grantmakers Forum
Arizona Hospitals and Healthcare Association
Arizona Medical Association
Arizona Osteopathic Medical Association
Arizona Partnership for Infant Immunization
Arizona Public Health Association
Arizona Public Interest Research Group Arizona Rural Health Association
Arizona School Boards Association
Association of Arizona Food Banks
Association for Supportive Child Care
Bayless Healthcare Group
Canyon Pediatrics
Casa de los Niños
Catholic Community Services
Chicanos Por La Causa
Child Crisis Arizona
Children’s Action Alliance
Children’s Cancer Network
Children’s Clinics for Rehabilitative Services
Child and Family Resources
Coconino Coalition for Children and Youth
Community Foundation of Southern Arizona
Cover Kids Coalition
David’s Hope
East Valley Pediatrics Society
Empowered Educators
Empowerment Systems
Father Matters
Flagstaff Chapter – AEA, Retired
Frameshift Group
Greater Phoenix Urban League
Hardge Consulting and Management, LLC
Health System Alliance of Arizona
The IDEA School
Jewish Family & Children’s Services
Jordan Developmental Pediatrics
Keogh Health Connection
Kool Smiles, General Dentistry for Kids and Parents
Literacy Connects
Make Way for Books
March of Dimes, Arizona Chapter
Maricopa County NAACP
Mending Hearts Family Services, Inc.
Mental Health America of Arizona
Mental Health Guild, Inc.
MHC Healthcare
The Monsignor Edward J. Ryle Fund
Mountain Park Health Center
National Association of Social Workers, Arizona Chapter
Outer Limits School
Phoenix Day
Pima County Access Program
Pima County Pediatric Society
Pima County – Tucson Women’s Commission
Prevent Child Abuse Arizona
Protecting Arizona’s Family Coalition
Raising Special Kids
Scottsdale UMC
Shepherd’s Fold Preschool and Day Care
Society of St. Vincent de Paul
Southern Arizona Association for the Education of Young Children (SAzAEYC)
Southern Arizona Grandparent Ambassadors
Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC)
Southwest Human Development
Spiritual Center
Stanley Gering, MD
St. Luke’s Health Initiatives
St. Vincent de Paul/St. Mary’s Conference
Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Tucson Medical Center
Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce
United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona
Valdez Travel, Inc.
Valle del Sol
Valley of the Sun United Way
Valley Interfaith Project
Visit Tucson
West Valley Pediatrics
West Valley Neighborhoods Coalition
Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona
Women’s Health Coalition
Yuma Community Food Bank

State Revenues Are Up, and So Are State Funding Needs

Last October, the Joint Legislative Budget Committee staff released new revenue estimates that project Arizona will have a $650 million cash balance by the end of fiscal year 2017.  They cautioned, however, that only about $250 million is likely to be ongoing revenues.   Policymakers should be cautious about dedicating more than the $250 million to tax cuts or ongoing spending increases.

The state’s cash balances have risen as investments per student have dropped dramatically in both K-12 and university education. Strategies to help strengthen families and prevent abuse, neglect and other crises have also shrunk.

While we don’t know what Governor Ducey’s budget proposal will include, we know that the major state agencies are requesting nearly $600 million in new funding. Click here for a breakdown of these requests.


A common theme throughout the major agency budget requests is the need for additional funds to meet the growing demand for services, from more children in the foster care system to more prisoners.


1. FY 17 request includes $75 million for student growth and formula adjustments projected by the Joint Legislative Budget Committee staff but not included in the Department of Education’s budget request.

2. The Division of Behavioral Health Services is being transferred from the Department of Health Services to AHCCCS and the Department of Economic Security in FY 17.  The FY 16 Funding and FY 17 Request columns include the shift of the $517 million from Health Services to  AHCCCS and Economic Security but the columns showing the increase dollar amount and percentage do not.

**Location Change** Join Us for an Interactive Discussion on Juvenile Justice and Effective Fiscal Policy

In the past several years, juvenile crime rates in Arizona have dropped, thanks in part to community-based prevention and diversion programs offered in local jurisdictions. New state policies, however, could have a dramatic impact on how these services are offered by requiring counties to pay for incarcerating youth in state juvenile correctional facilities.

Join Children’s Action Alliance and Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy for the release of a new report titled Juvenile Justice in Arizona: The Fiscal Foundations of Effective Policy, as well as an interactive discussion on how Arizona can improve public safety outcomes involving youth. 

When:  Thursday, January 28, 2016

8:30 am – 10:00 am   canstockphoto26699950

Where: Burton Barr Public Library 

1221 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix

(enter through north ramp)

The panel will feature the following experts:

Moderator:  Hon. Patricia Escher, Retired, Presiding Juvenile Court Judge, Pima County

Hon. Elizabeth Archuleta, Coconino County Board of Supervisors

Hon. Colleen McNally, Presiding Juvenile Court Judge, Maricopa County

Tim Hardy, Director, Yuma County Juvenile Justice Center

The Report’s author and Speaker: Bill Hart, ASU Morrison Institute for Public Policy


Please RSVP to or by phone at 602.266.0707 x201

What to Look for in Gov. Ducey’s State Budget Proposal 

Today, Governor Ducey will deliver his State of the State address, laying out his priorities for 2016. Later this week he will present his budget proposal to the legislature and to the people of the state. This proposal becomes a starting point for public discussion and legislative consideration and negotiation before the new fiscal year begins in July. Adopting a balanced state budget is a major responsibility of our elected leaders. The state budget can be a powerful tool to reach our common goals for health, education, security and a vibrant, prosperous future. It is a blueprint for putting our values and our priorities into action.

All politicians believe in fiscal responsibility. But not all budgets reflect this ideal. Here is a quick guide with 5 signs of fiscal responsibility to look for in Governor Ducey’s budget.

1. Long term plans for education funding

2. Specific spending cuts to match proposed tax cuts

3. Realistic adjustments for inflation and population

4. Strategies that prevent crisis and save on long-term costs and liabilities

5. Strategic dedication of one-time and ongoing state revenues

More news to come next week and beyond about how the Governor’s budget stacks up to these principles.

Arizona Advocates Seek to Restore KidsCare Program

It’s Time to Lift the Temporary Freeze on KidsCare Health Coverage

Cloud 3.pngA new study by  Children’s Action Alliance and Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute finds 160,000 Arizona kids still don’t have health coverage, ranking Arizona second worst in the nation. Most of the uninsured children live in low-income working families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid and struggle to afford a comprehensive plan under Obamacare, even with financial help.This is the same segment of the population that, before 2010, could get coverage through KidsCare. Enrollment in KidsCare has been frozen since 2009, leaving Arizona the only state in the nation that does not have a Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Thanks to 100% federal funding for at least two years, Arizona has the chance to lift the temporary enrollment freeze on KidsCare at no cost to our state budget. Lifting the KidsCare freeze matches Governor Ducey’s priorities for giving all children opportunity no matter what zip code they live in.  It also fuels the Governor’s goals for educational success because kids who are healthy can learn much better in school.

Join us in the coming weeks as we build support to lift the temporary freeze on KidsCare. This is a step that can make a huge difference for families and get medical treatment to more kids when they need it. Click here to get a quick summary of the facts and see the growing list of organizations supporting this effort. 

We Are Hiring

AZ Outline FillDo  you know an exceptional policy leader who is looking for a new opportunity?  Someone who is passionate about shaping Arizona’s future?  Send them our way! Children’s Action Alliance is recruiting for a director of the new Arizona Center for Economic Progress. The AZ Center was created to join together with a broad range of business and community leaders and organizations to inform sound state policies that boost opportunity and
prosperity for our state.  

Click here for a complete job description.