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Proposition 206: Better Wages for Arizona Working Families

canstockphoto4114828This election cycle is a dynamic one with substantive questions on the ballot, such as Proposition 206, The Fair Wages and Healthy Families Initiative. Children’s Action Alliance is proud to support this measure, which gradually increases the state’s minimum wage over the next several years. Proposition 206 would raise the current $8.05 per hour to $10 in 2017, then to $12 by 2020.

Proposition 206 also requires companies with 15 employees or more to provide five days of earned paid sick time per year, and employers with fewer than 15 employees to provide 3 days of earned sick time annually. Data shows many Arizona children and families are struggling, with more than one in four children living in poverty. Economic analysis finds the benefits from this gradual minimum wage increase will reach 477,000 children and, even taking into account the potential impact on jobs, the number of people living in poverty would drop; families would have more disposable income to spend and further fuel our economy.

Watch “Education Showdown: Four Senate Races That Will Shape Arizona”

Watch educationshowdown- (1)In a recent statewide poll, 74 percent of Arizonans said they support more investment in public education. The 90 people who serve in the Arizona Legislature make those decisions. Those elected on November 8 will be the ones who determine whether Arizona’s public schools will have the resources needed to ensure a quality teacher in every classroom, updated textbooks and technology and well-maintained school buildings.Children’s Action Alliance and twelve other organizations are pleased to sponsor Education Showdown: Four Senate Races That Will Shape Arizona. Senate candidates in legislative districts 6, 8, 18 and 28 shared their views in discussions taped Oct. 12 at the Cox Communications studios in Phoenix.

Even if you are not a voter in one of these districts, we encourage you to watch this program as it will provide you with valuable information on the issues facing Arizona’s public schools and the questions we should be asking all candidates for the Arizona legislature.

New Study Finds Investment in Public K-12 Education Continues to Drop

canstockphoto2402821Arizona is among five of the eight states with the biggest cuts to public education since 2008 that have also cut income taxes during that time period, according to an updated report released by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Per student state dollars, adjusted for inflation, for Arizona’s K-12 funding formula is 12.8% lower in fiscal year 2017 than in fiscal year 2008. Over the same period, Arizona personal and corporate income tax rates were cut by 12.8% between 2008 and 2017.

To learn more about how Arizona compares to other states when it comes to restoring state support for K-12 education, read the full report After Nearly a Decade, School Investments Still Way Down in Some States. 

New Report Concludes Private School Tax Credits Undermine Public Schools

canstockphoto26839508In its just-released report “State Tax Subsidies for Private K-12 Education,” the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) shows that private school tax subsidies, including Arizona’s four tax credits for private school tuition scholarships, are undermining states’ ability to maintain a high-quality public education system.

After studying the 20 states that have some type of private education tax subsidy, ITEP has concluded that the subsidies lack budgetary oversight and divert revenue needed to support public schools. The report also details how upper-income taxpayers can use the subsidies to generate a profit by claiming a deduction on their federal income taxes even when their contributions were fully reimbursed by the state tax credit.

This short video describes why you should care about the damage done from private school tax credits.

In January, CAA identified four reforms that can reduce the damage from Arizona’s private school tax credits:

  • Cap the growth in “low Income” corporate tax credits so they can’t continue to grow by 20% each year
  • Focus all scholarships on students in low income families
  • Remove the ability for donors to recommend specific students for scholarships
  • Limit administrative expenses to 5%

Learn more about these and other issues by reading ITEP’s full report. 

Thank You to Southern AZ Legislative Candidates for Joining Us on Education Issues

Tuc seminar 5We continued our series of seminars on education issues in Tucson on Friday, October 7, with a good showing from legislative candidates interested in learning about issues affecting K-12 education in Arizona.

We have a lot of work to do to improve our public schools: proper funding for materials, teacher pay and safe classrooms. We want to thank the following office-seekers for taking time out of their busy campaign schedules to participate and ask thoughtful questions about public policy in education, particularly that districts have the resources necessary to provide a safe and competitive learning environment for Arizona children: Jaime Alvarez, (Senate, LD 4); Wenona Benally (House, LD 7); David Bradley (Senate, LD 10); Todd Clodfelter (House, LD 10); Andrea Dalessandro (Senate, LD 2); Kirsten Engel (House, LD 10); Randy Friese (House, LD 9); Ana Henderson (House, LD 9); Daniel Hernandez (House, LD 2); Mike Holmes (House, LD 14); Shelley Kais (Senate; LD 2); Stephanie Mach (House, LD 10); Barbara McGuire (Senate, LD 8); Randall Phelps (Senate, LD 10); and Pamela Powers Hannley (House, LD 9).

Thanks also goes to Colleen Niccum, vice president of education policy at Southern Arizona Leadership Council for serving as a voice for the business community on education.

The forum was sponsored by AZ Schools Now, a collaboration of organizations representing parents, children, educators, the faith community and the business community.

Help Choose a Question on Kids’ Issues for Sunday’s Presidential Debate

canstockphoto16425541This weekend, the presidential candidates will participate in a second debate. Scheduled for Sunday, October 9th at 6:00pm Arizona time, the Commission on Presidential Debates and moderators from news divisions at ABC and CNN have agreed to consider using a question from someone outside the audience.

We are asking you to help by voting for a question on children’s issues submitted by president and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Patrick McCarthy. The question is:

“How would your budget priorities lift working families with kids from poverty?”

It takes mere seconds to cast your vote, yet this question has the potential to ignite a discussion on a critically important matter affecting children and families in our country today.

Please click the link, vote, and pass it along to friends, colleagues and families.

Thank you!

 

Get Your Tickets for Children’s Action Alliance’s Annual Fundraising Luncheon

Be treated to live youth entertainment from Osborn Middle School and Camelback High School, get inspired to make Arizona a better place for children and mingle with your colleagues at the 18th Annual Through the Eyes of a Child fundraising luncheon next month in Phoenix. There is still time to get your tickets online, whether you are purchasing for yourself or a sponsoring a full table for your organization.

This year’s theme is Justice: Through the Eyes of a Child and will honor attorney Nicole Stanton for the Stop Bullying AZ program and the Arizona Juvenile Courts for their Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative. Luncheon details are:

When: Friday, October 21, 2016

11:30 am – 1:30 pm

Where:  Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa

2400 E. Missouri Avenue, Phoenix

TEOC art for enews (3)

To purchase tickets online, click this link or contact Sheryl Worthy by Friday, September 30th.

New Census Data Finds Drop in Uninsured Children in Arizona

canstockphoto12581956Some good news from the U.S. Census Bureau this week, as the agency released data on more than 40 different topics in the American Community Survey. Notable in the data is a significant drop in the percentage of children without health coverage in Arizona. The data, from 2015, estimates that, 8% of Arizona’s children remained uninsured in 2015, compared with 10% in 2014.

The drop mirrors a national trend toward declining numbers of uninsured children. However, Arizona still ranks third in the country in the number of uninsured kids. We have a lot of work to do to just get to the national average, but thankfully our legislators responded to this call for action by reinstating KidsCare this past legislative session.

Help us get the word out that KidsCare is back as a low-cost coverage option for Arizona families, particularly those who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid (known as AHCCCS in Arizona), yet cannot afford the premiums of private or Marketplace health plans. Parents can get free help by making an appointment online at www.CoverAZ.org/connector or by calling 1.800.377.3536.

New Audit Finds Good Performance by State’s Early Childhood Program Agency

photo of mom and baby for FTF enewsLate last month, the Arizona Auditor General’s office released its long awaited audit of First Things First, Arizona’s Early Childhood Development and Health Board. The audit was authorized nearly a year ago by the Joint Legislative Audit Committee and was extensive in nature taking a look at everything from financial practices to performance accountability for grantees. Overall, the agency performed well with no findings or recommended changes in five of the seven areas reviewed by the audit team.

The report notes that “FTF has taken steps to manage its declining tobacco tax revenues and strategically plan for its future” and goes to great length to outline those efforts.  They’ve additionally found that the agency is indeed expending its funds to implement policies and programs in accordance with the original intent of the statute approved by voters.This detailed report of the agency is helpful for both community partners and policy makers and should help to answer most of the recurring questions raised at the Capitol.  With these concerns addressed, we look forward to building upon the progress that has been made to develop a seamless early childhood system that helps children entering Kindergarten be prepared to succeed in school and in life.

The executive summary of the report can be found here.

Welcome Our Newest CAA Team Member

Siman HeadshotWe are pleased to introduce our newest staff member, Siman Qaasim, who joins Children’s Action Alliance as Director of Health Policy.

Siman is a well-seasoned public health professional, with a background in developing and administering community health programs. She joins the team from the Maricopa County Department of Public Health, where she was an administrator for the Office of School Health and Wellness Initiatives. Siman’s career has taken her all over the world, from working in international policy analysis in Washington, D.C. to Nassau, Bahamas as a director of health and safety.

Siman is a past recipient of the Phoenix Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 recognition for her community service work, which includes involvement in various nonprofit health organizations. She is an alumnus of Valley Leadership Class 35 and holds a master’s degree in business administration from Nova Southeastern University in Florida.