Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Hale discusses healthcare issues facing Native American and rural communities at recent conference

PHOENIX – Rep. Albert Hale, D-St Michaels (District 7), recently spoke about healthcare issues facing Native American and rural communities at a conference hosted by the Arizona Medicare-for-All Coalition in Phoenix.

Conference organizers, Dr. Mary Ellen Bradshaw and Dr. Jonathan Weisbuch, said in a joint statement that Hale’s contributions to the event provided much needed insight into the healthcare situation within many of the communities Hale represents.

“We appreciated Rep. Hale’s comments, as did the others who attended the conference. He was inspirational making many excellent points about the problems rural Native Americans had during his youth, and continue to have today, with hospitals and clinics many miles and hours away from the places people live.  He spoke of the fact that frequently the doctors were unaware of the hardships faced by their patients. The information Rep. Hale shared was inspiring and revealing,” they said. “It was well-received by the audience. We are grateful for his willingness, and the willingness of so many other community leaders, to participate and engage at an in-depth level on such important and complex issues.”

The conference on May 21 focused on debunking myths associated with Arizona’s health system, and provided a review of the public health system and a review of some of the state’s requirements to provide care for those who are in the most need. Hale provided perspective on healthcare within the communities he represents at the Arizona Legislature.

“The challenges for healthcare in Arizona rural communities and Indian nations remain the same as when I was growing up on the Navajo Nation. The communities and nations are often in low-income areas where roads are not paved and the distances to the nearest healthcare facility are miles away. The healthcare facilities do not always have medical professionals who can provide the care that may be needed,” Hale said. “Getting the care needed can be difficult because of these restraints.”

He added that cost can also create barriers for accessing healthcare, which can complicate medical needs.

“Just getting to the healthcare facility and complying with referrals to other facilities involve costs that put undue burdens on families. These are some of the factors that cause people in rural communities and Indian nations to delay getting the medical attention they need. Sometimes, the delay can cause the affliction to progress so the treatment becomes more costly,” Hale said.

Hale concluded by calling on the government and healthcare professionals to work with the community to find solutions to the healthcare issues within Native American and rural communities.

“The future of healthcare in rural communities and Indian nations depends on the action we take together on all of these contributing factors,” Hale said. “Each must be addressed because ensuring our people are healthy is vital to ensuring our future is healthy.”

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Rep. Hale is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation. He was born in Ganado and raised in Klagetoh, Arizona. He is Ashiihi (Salt), born for Todichiini (Bitter Water). His maternal grandparents are Hanaghani (Walk About clan). His paternal grandparents are Kiyanii (Tall House clan). He is a 1969 graduate of Fort Wingate High School, a Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school located east of Gallup, New Mexico. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona (1973), and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of New Mexico School of Law, Albuquerque, New Mexico (1977), and an honorary Juris Doctor degree from Phoenix School of Law (2012).  He is the former President of the Navajo Nation.

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Monday, May 23, 2016

Moving Education and Arizona Forward

Prop. 123 is supposed to be the first step in restoring support for Arizona’s public schools and Democrats have been preparing for the next steps.

Our schools need more resources than just the inflation funding lawsuit money, which Republicans wrongfully withheld from schools in the first place. Maybe this is why people don’t trust the governor or the Republicans when it comes to doing what’s best for our schools. Maybe that distrust is also why Prop. 123 narrowly won at the ballot box, even though a recent poll showed that many Arizonans who voted against Prop. 123 did want more money for education but said they did not trust the governor and legislature to follow through.

Arizonans know that Democrats have been, and will be, the champions for public education in this state. During the legislative session, we pushed to restore the $116 million that Republicans cut specifically from classroom resources.  We found a way to do that and keep a balanced budget without raising taxes. That effort was thwarted by a partisan 36-24 Republican vote. 

The governor should address any question about his commitment to education and immediately restore the additional cuts made to schools, while working with education advocates on Prop. 123 Go, on a long-term, sustainable revenue plan for education that will focus on three key areas:
  • Restoring funding for classroom supplies, updated technology and textbooks. This would require restoring district additional assistance.
  • Sustaining a workforce of quality, certified and caring teachers in the classroom by investing in competitive salaries and professional development.
  • Restoring capital funding to give our students schools and classrooms that are safe, clean and functional places to learn.
We’re still at the bottom of the barrel in the country when it comes to per-student funding, and that must change. We need an “ironclad” commitment from Gov. Ducey that after Prop. 123, he won’t ignore the next steps in restoring Arizona school funding.  We’ll be here to make sure that happens.


#DemsLead

Monday, May 16, 2016

Governor signs Hale’s measure to update the Arizona Advisory Council on Indian Healthcare

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Gov. Doug Ducey recently signed a bill, HB 2312, sponsored by Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), that will increase Native American representation on the Arizona Advisory Council on Indian Health Care. The bill requires the governor to appoint a member from each of Arizona’s 22 Indian Nations to the council.

Sen. Carlyle Begay, R-Ganado (District 7), also worked on this legislation in the Arizona Senate. Hale expressed his gratitude to Begay and others who contributed to improving the Arizona Advisory Council on Indian Health Care’s representation of Native American communities.

“I want to thank Sen. Begay, the Advisory Council, and the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona for their hard work on this essential expansion of Native American representation on this advisory council,” Hale said. “I also appreciate all the support my colleagues have shown for this issue.”

The bill also clarifies the Council’s purpose, which is to provide Native American governments and health care organizations a role in shaping the health care laws and policies that affect the communities they serve. The council’s website, with information about upcoming meetings, can be found here.

Gov. Ducey signed the bill days after it won final passage in the legislature.

“I thank the governor for signing this legislation,” Hale said. “The Arizona Advisory Council on Indian Health Care can now be better connected to the communities it serves.”

Hale will retire from the Legislature this year, and during the final vote on this measure, he told his colleagues that he has enjoyed the time he has spent serving in both the House and the Senate.

“I’ve been able to serve at the Legislature for 16 years, and I am grateful for that time,” Hale said. “I am also happy to return to my community and looking forward to the next chapter of my life.”

For more information on HB 2312, or to read it in full, click here.

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Rep. Hale is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation. He was born in Ganado and raised in Klagetoh, Arizona. He is Ashiihi (Salt), born for Todichiini (Bitter Water). His maternal grandparents are Hanaghani (Walk About clan). His paternal grandparents are Kiyanii (Tall House clan). He is a 1969 graduate of Fort Wingate High School, a Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school located east of Gallup, New Mexico. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona (1973), and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of New Mexico School of Law, Albuquerque, New Mexico (1977), and an honorary Juris Doctor degree from Phoenix School of Law (2012).  He is the former President of the Navajo Nation.

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Let's clear things up

The fuzzy Republican math around education funding is starting to become more clear. In the days leading up to and following the passage of the state’s budget and the close of the legislative session, there was a lot of debate about how much money K-12 schools could or would get.

This argument was mired in semantics. But House Democrats think there is one question that gets to the heart of the matter: How much new money will go into our classrooms?

After years of deep budget cuts, our classroom sizes are getting larger, teachers are leaving the state and some schools are using 15-year-old textbooks. The way to change that is to make sure we are investing resources directly into Arizona classrooms.

This year, Arizona House Democrats pushed to restore the $116 million that Republicans cut specifically from classroom resources.  We found a way to do that and keep a balanced budget without raising taxes. This idea was dismissed outright by the majority party – likely for purely partisan reasons. The Arizona Republic reported that the bottom line is:


Regardless of all the other budget numbers being discussed, classroom funding is the number that matters. Arizona remains at the bottom of the barrel nationally for per pupil spending and that needs to change. Democrats wanted more for Arizona students and we will keep fighting until we get it.


#DemsLead

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

We wrapped up with some wins this session and we’ll come back to fight for more next year

There was some shady business this legislative session. There is no doubt about that. But the Democrats in the House and the Senate stood strong for our values, and our priorities and we made some progress.

At the beginning of the session we outlined a plan to move Arizona forward, which focused on five key areas: public education, community support, public safety, economic development and responsible stewardship of our natural resources. By standing together, and holding the Republicans accountable, we fought for and gained something in almost all of these key areas. 



Public Education: We advocated for the restoration of funding for career and technical education programs, called JTEDS, that keep students in school and provide skilled-job training. Republicans cut the funding for these programs last year, but with the help of outspoken supporters across the state, we were able to get the money for the programs back within a few weeks of the start of the session. The University of Arizona also received $8 million in the budget; that money could be invested in the Large Animal Veterinary School.

Community: After a brutal political battle, we were able to restore funding for KidsCare, which will get health insurance for 30,000 low-income kids and put about $75 million into the state’s economy. We advocated for Arizona’s budget to include additional money for Department of Child Safety case managers, support services and preventative services, while requiring additional accountability measures. DCS remains in crisis, and ensuring the stability and effectiveness of this agency is a moral obligation.

Economy: We also championed economic development by calling for the accelerated construction on Highway 189 for the Mariposa Port of Entry to support trade with Mexico. And we supported job creation by protecting the Highway User Revenue Fund from budget sweeps, which is used to build and repair roads and bridges.

Natural Resources: Water is a vital resource in Arizona.  Ensuring its availability and quality is crucial to our economic future. Democrats worked to get money in the budget for Department of Water Resources to re-hire staff and for the Water Quality Assurance Revolving Fund.

#DemsLead despite the Chaos in the House



We were able to get a lot done this session, despite the lackluster leadership from the Republicans. But their political grandstanding and gamesmanship did prevent some good ideas from moving forward. Democrats found a way to restore the $116 million for classroom resources that Republicans cut last year, without raising taxes, but the majority party ignored that plan. We think Arizona students should be in classrooms that prepare them for an increasingly global economy. But apparently, Republicans would rather keep the per pupil funding at the bottom of the barrel and protect the status quo of outdated textbooks and crowded classrooms.  They decided to spend $5 million on Koch brother propaganda centers, called “economic freedom schools.” This is really distressing because the founding director of one of these centers has stated he wants to “get rid of public schools.”   

The Republicans also failed to show compassion for the state’s most vulnerable, in a year when we have the resources to do so. They refused to restore child care subsidies for low-income, working families and the 24-month cap on the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, which helps Arizona’s neediest families put food on the table. Most states offer this program for up to five years but currently in Arizona, families can only receive assistance for 12 months. Resources like this could prevent families from falling into crisis and entering the child welfare system.


This session was marked by a lack of leadership from the Republicans that created obstacles for public participation. Sadly, the governor and his Capitol cronies prioritized wealthy special interest tax breaks, private prisons and protecting dark money in elections above Arizona families. Democrats showed that, despite these challenges, we can be champions for education, job creation and our community. We will continue to fight for these priorities because #DemsLead

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Meyer statement on close of 2016 legislative session


STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Democratic Leader Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley (District 28), released the following statement after the 2016 legislative session ended:

“Legislative Democrats opened this session with a comprehensive plan to strengthen Arizona’s communities and economy. We would have greatly increased the state’s investment in K-12 and higher education and given Arizona a real second step after Prop. 123. We also proposed common-sense reforms and investments in child safety and economic security programs because we have the resources to help the most vulnerable Arizonans. The Democratic plan would have strengthened the state’s economy and moved Arizona forward.

“Legislative Republicans were constantly bogged down in political gamesmanship and grandstanding. As a result, the policies they advanced will continue to fail our students and teachers, our most vulnerable populations, and hardworking Arizonans. They have protected the status quo and kept per pupil spending in our state at the bottom of the barrel.

“They displayed a stunning lack of leadership all session. Their misplaced priorities once again led to repeated late-night debates and a chaotic process that kept the public out of critical discussions. House Democrats fought for the priorities of Arizonans by promoting K-12 education, affordable college tuition and high-wage jobs over the wealthy special interests that Republicans continue to place above all else.”



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Thursday, May 05, 2016

#KidsCare Passes the House! This is How Change Happens!

KidsCare passed a vote in the House of Representatives tonight. 

This happened largely because Arizonans made their voices heard. Republicans left #KidsCare out of the budget, but people across the state called and wrote to their legislators and made it perfectly clear – 30,000 Arizona kids deserve access to quality healthcare.

Now the bill goes to the Senate, where there will likely be more opposition.

Please stay involved – click here to #BeHeard.