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March Legislative Update: Good Bills, Bad Bills and Where They Stand

CapitalsmallIt is more than two months into the Arizona legislative session and we have seen a variety of measures that are good for our state’s children, as well as those that are outright dangerous.The committee process is over, but bills are still being heard by the full House and full Senate.

Lawmakers are in the early stages of negotiating the state budget and bills that haven’t passed can still show up in the budget. That is exactly the plan Arizona needs for KidsCare, since Senate President Andy Biggs refused to assign the KidsCare bill that passed the House to any committee in the Senate (HB 2309). Click here to see a summary of the bills that are still moving through the legislature – as well as the bills that appear to be “inactive” but may be resurrected before the session is over.

Mark Your Calendars to Vote YES on Prop 123 in May

File_000Children’s Action Alliance is pleased to join organizations across Arizona to support Proposition 123. Students will benefit from funds that can be used to update textbooks and technology, support quality teachers, promote third grade reading, and achieve greater proficiency in science and math skills.

Proposition 123 is not a revolutionary leap forward for public education. It is simply a temporary plan to settle a lawsuit over funding to help schools keep up with rising costs. While we campaign for its passage we also expect our elected leaders to adopt a long term, sustainable plan for education funding.
Governor Ducey and state legislators are hearing the message that our votes for Proposition 123 won’t mean much at all if they continue to cut school budgets and shrink state revenues with their current votes at the capitol.

Business CEOs all over Arizona have joined parents and grandparents in a clarion call for greater investments in public schools. It’s up to us to demonstrate our commitment with a YES vote on May 17. And it’s up to us to hold Governor Ducey and state legislators accountable for the next steps that will fuel student success and build an Arizona economy with opportunity for all.

Arizona Welfare to Work Policies Doing Little to Help Families

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In 1979, one out of every two families with children living in poverty in Arizona participated in welfare assistance. In 2014, almost two decades after welfare reform, only one out of eleven families with children living in poverty in Arizona participated in the new program. Those who are able to participate receive a monthly average of only $93 per person in Arizona — one of the lowest rates of assistance in the country. Seven out of ten participants are children.

Welfare reform was supposed to help people move into employment, but as we’ve found in our research, Arizona needs to work harder on “welfare to work.” Currently, Arizona diverts most Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) federal block grant funding away from work supports: only 2.7% of TANF funds spent in Arizona went to work related activities and supports.

Click here to download a copy of the data brief and learn just how little our policies do to help families go from “welfare to work.”

Your Help is Needed: Tell Gov. Ducey You Want Him to #UnfreezeKidsCare

canstockphoto6971829Arizona children need your voice.

Please take a moment to call Governor Ducey at 602-542-4331 or email him with this link to ask him to #UnfreezeKidsCare.

Thank you for your support.

Statement from CAA on HB 2309, Bill to #UnfreezeKidsCare

PDF Version 

(Phoenix, AZ) – The following is a statement from Children’s Action Alliance president and CEO, Dana Wolfe Naimark, on legislative efforts to reinstate KidsCare, Arizona’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

“KidsCare has broad, bipartisan support in the legislature, where the Arizona House passed HB 2309 last week 47-12. Lifting the temporary freeze on KidsCare is a top priority across the state for pediatricians and nurses, employers and parents, AARP and faith groups, educators and rural communities. The majority of Arizona lawmakers stand on the side of Arizona children and families. President Andy Biggs, however, said he does not support connecting 30,000 children – such as Paul, Jr. in the attached video – with affordable health care options.

“Arizona has the opportunity right NOW to take advantage of 100% federal funding of KidsCare, money that we have already paid in taxes. No single lawmaker should block us from stepping up to reach Governor Ducey’s goals for opportunity for all kids so they have a chance to grow up in our state healthy and ready to learn.”

Arizona has the third highest rate of uninsured children in the country and is the ONLY state that doesn’t offer affordable health coverage for children in low-income working families. These families earn too much to qualify for Arizona’s Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), yet not enough to purchase plans on the private health coverage market.

Learn more about why KidsCare is good for Arizona here.

Statement from CAA on HB 2309, Bill to #UnfreezeKidsCare

Paul and his dad cropped(Phoenix, AZ) – The following is a statement from Children’s Action Alliance president and CEO, Dana Wolfe Naimark, on legislative efforts to reinstate KidsCare, Arizona’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP):

“KidsCare has broad, bipartisan support in the legislature, where the Arizona House passed HB 2309 last week 47-12. Lifting the temporary freeze on KidsCare is a top priority across the state for pediatricians and nurses, employers and parents, AARP and faith groups, educators and rural communities. The majority of Arizona lawmakers stand on the side of Arizona children and families. President Andy Biggs, however, said he does not support connecting 30,000 children – such as Paul, Jr. in the attached video – with affordable health care options.

“Arizona has the opportunity right NOW to take advantage of 100% federal funding of KidsCare, money that we have already paid in taxes.   No single lawmaker should block us from stepping up to reach Governor Ducey’s goals for opportunity for all kids so they have a chance to grow up in our state healthy and ready to learn.”

Arizona has the third highest rate of uninsured children in the country and is the ONLY state that doesn’t offer affordable health coverage for children in low-income working families. These families earn too much to qualify for Arizona’s Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), yet not enough to purchase plans on the private health coverage market.

 

Learn more about why KidsCare is good for Arizona here.

 

Statement from CAA President and CEO on House Passage of HB 2309, to Lift the Freeze on KidsCare

PDF Version 

(Phoenix, AZ) – The following is a statement from Children’s Action Alliance President and CEO, Dana Wolfe Naimark, on today’s Arizona House vote of 47-12 to pass a measure lifting the freeze on KidsCare (HB 2309):
“It’s a good day for Arizona children, as we are one step closer to lifting the freeze on KidsCare and making affordable health coverage accessible for thousands of uninsured kids. Thanks to the sponsors of HB 2309, Reps. Regina Cobb, Heather Carter, Carlyle Begay, Kate Brophy McGee, Jay Lawrence and Eric Meyer, this measure now heads to the Senate.

“Support from the community and partners makes a difference and we are ready to continue to show lawmakers in the senate how important KidsCare is to Arizona’s young people and the state as a whole. We look forward to working with senators to lift the freeze this legislative session and help 30,000 children get the health care they need with the federal taxes we have already paid.”

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This report is an overview of uninsured children in Arizona and the importance of KidsCare in our state.

 

Fostering Advocates Arizona Unveils 2016 Priorities

As young adults who have experienced foster care first hand, it troubles us deeply to see the increasing number of kids coming into and aging out of foster care in Arizona each year. Having lived through the obstacles that brought us into care, managing life while in care, and surviving life after care, we understand the hurdles and struggles current and former foster youth face each day and it is the driving force behind our advocacy efforts.FAAZ kids photo

Over the last several months, my peers and I on the Fostering Advocates Arizona Young Adult Leadership Board have worked together to identify five key priority areas along with recommendations to improve foster care in Arizona. We are excited to announce the publication of our 2016 Advocacy Document. We urge you to read it and join us in taking action to make these changes. We are facing a child welfare crisis in Arizona and thousands of young lives are in need of immediate action. As first-hand experts on foster care, we are demanding a seat at the leadership table to provide meaningful ideas and solutions so ALL youth in Arizona can truly thrive.

Sincerely,
Desaray Klimenko,
Fostering Advocates Arizona
Young Adult Leadership Board Chair

Arizona Needs a Time Out From Tax Cuts and Tax Credits

Governor Ducey and many state legislators proclaim that structural balance is their top budget priority. They say ongoing state spending must be contained to levels below ongoing state revenues. But they keep cutting state revenues, making structural balance harder and harder to reach. To promote structural balance along with state priorities for children’s health, education and security, Children’s Action Alliance opposes any new tax cut or new or expanded tax credits this year.

Tax Cuts - 85 percentToday ongoing revenues in Arizona are still lower than they were in 2007. Yes, we are suffering from a slow economic recovery. But more importantly, we have been shrinking our tax base with permanent tax cuts and new tax credits for 25 years straight. A majority of lawmakers continued to pass new tax cuts even during the Great Recession at the same time they were voting to slash investments in public schools, children’s health care, universities and family support.  Tax cuts passed just since 2009 account for more than 85% of the gap in revenues between 2009 and next fiscal year.

Some lawmakers want to continue the downward trend in revenues.  More than 50 bills have been introduced that would further cut state revenues. Six measures – which include reductions in various tax rates, as well as new and expanded tax credits – are already halfway through the legislative process and would cost a combined impact of $60 million. Their passage would mean further chipping away at monies urgently needed for other programs. Because a tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction to income taxes owed, it shrinks state revenues available for education, health care, prevention, and any other priorities.  A proposed tax credit for teachers who purchase their own classroom supplies, for example, shrinks the general fund resources available to re-invest in classroom funding. Here is a partial list of proposed tax cuts.

Children’s Action Alliance opposes any new tax cut or new or expanded tax credits this year.   Business CEOs all over Arizona have joined parents and grandparents in a clarion call for greater investments in public schools.  But this investment gets further and further out of reach if lawmakers are cutting the funding available for public schools both today and tomorrow.