Thursday, September 27, 2012

Hobbs: Reported rise in births paid for by the state ‘shouldn’t come as a surprise’ following years of Republican budget cuts to vital programs

Hobbs: Reported rise in births paid for by the state ‘shouldn’t come as a surprise’ following years of Republican budget cuts to vital programs



STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – A recent article in The Arizona Republic called attention to the rising number of Arizona births paid for by the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state’s Medicaid program.


According to the article, tax dollars paid for 53 percent of births in Arizona in 2011, costing the state more than $200 million. That number is up from the 42 percent of births paid for by AHCCCS in 2000.


Rep. Katie Hobbs, D-Phoenix (District 15), said she is not surprised by the spike in the number of births AHCCCS is covering after years of Republican budgets that cut resources from vital programs. Hobbs said cutting money or capping programs like AHCCCS does not eliminate the need for these programs.

“This shouldn’t come as a surprise. The Republicans have been trying to grab headlines with their claims of a balanced budget. The reality is that they did that by slashing funding for vital programs. Many of those programs provided critical services to Arizonans, and the need for those programs does not go away just because the funding does,” Hobbs said. “This shows that Republicans at the Legislature don’t have a long-term economic plan for the state.”


The article indicates that the Republican-led Legislature cut $3 billion from programs and services in the past four years. The Joint Legislative Budget Committee reported that from 2008 through 2012 there were $3.3 billion in “permanent spending reductions” or budget cuts. Hobbs said she believes that the budget cuts are likely much higher. The estimate from the JLBC does not reflect the Republicans’ decision to underfund formula-driven programs, like those that provide money to schools to compensate for inflation. Nor does it include the funding sweeps that took money from services, like the raid on the Mortgage Settlement Fund. Earlier this year, Republicans swept $50 million from a fund that was set aside to help Arizona families struggling to recover from the foreclosure crisis.

“Short-sighted budgeting like this can have a domino effect. If we cut funding for child care subsidies, some parents can’t work. What is the impact of that on our economy? The Republicans underfunded KidsCare, signed off on education funding cuts, and instituted Medicaid enrollment restrictions and AHCCCS caps,” Hobbs said. “Often those are the kinds of programs that pay off in the long run. Reductions like that don’t happen in a vacuum. That’s why we need leadership committed to a sustainable and lasting economic plan for Arizona that will focus on improving education and creating jobs.”

To read the full article in The Arizona Republic, go to http://www.azcentral.com/news/politics/articles/20120923arizona-taxpayers-births.html#ixzz27PsTrbha.


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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Arizona Cardinals select Gallego for the NFL Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award

Arizona Cardinals select Gallego for the NFL Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – The Arizona Cardinals named Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix (District 16), the recipient of the National Football League Hispanic Leadership Award.


The NFL and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation have partnered for the second annual NFL Hispanic Heritage Leadership Awards for the 2012 celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. The awards recognize the contributions of Hispanic leaders in each NFL market.

“I am grateful for the recognition and the opportunity to serve the Hispanic community,” Gallego said. “This is an honor.”

As part of his award Gallego, who previously served in the U.S. Marine Corps and completed a tour of duty in Iraq, was asked to select a nonprofit organization to receive a $3,000 donation from the NFL and the Arizona Cardinals. Gallego chose the Madison Street Veterans Association, which is a peer support organization for homeless and formerly homeless veterans.


“This organization provides valuable resources to those who have served our country,” Gallego said. “I am pleased to help highlight the work of the Madison Street Veterans Association.”

The Arizona Cardinals will recognize Gallego’s contributions to the Hispanic community on the field during the Hispanic Heritage game on September 23, 2012 at 1:05 p.m. at University of Phoenix Stadium.

About the Hispanic Heritage Foundation

Since 1987, the Hispanic Heritage Foundation has inspired, identified, prepared and positioned Latino leaders. Their call to action is to “help a Latino help a hundred more.” Please visit www.HispanicHeritage.org for more information.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Campbell calls for full financial reports from organizations participating in recent European trade mission



Campbell calls for full financial reports from organizations participating in recent European trade mission

 

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Requests for public records prompted the Governor’s Office to release expense reports for a recent trade mission to France and Germany. The governor and her aides reportedly spent about $32,000 on the trip, a portion of which was paid for with tax dollars and the rest with private donations.


Officials from the Office of Tourism and the Arizona Commerce Authority, who also participated in the trade mission, have not released expense records, according to news reports.

“As a matter of transparency, the Arizona Commerce Authority and the Office of Tourism should publicly release the expense reports for this trip,” House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 14), said. “These organizations operate with taxpayer money. There is a lack of oversight and accountability. We don’t know what they spent and we don’t know if this trip will have any benefits for the people of Arizona.

“Trade missions are a vital part of economic development, but the public has a right to know how tax dollars are being spent. What kind of taxpayer investment is being made and what is the payoff? There should be oversight to prevent excessive spending. That’s just good business.”

Other reports revealed that Team ACA, the fundraising group associated with the Commerce Authority, paid to upgrade the governor and a staff member’s airfare to business class. Team ACA is the recent subject of scrutiny by the Phoenix Business Journal because of questions related to its nonprofit status.


“We don’t have the full financial picture and to avoid any suspicion, each organization involved should make a full and complete financial disclosure,” Campbell said. “Transparency and oversight are the key elements missing from this equation.”



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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tovar statement on recent SB 1070 ruling

Tovar statement on SB 1070 ruling:
‘It will fuel the fire of Tea Party extremism when we should be working together to create jobs and improve education’


STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Anna Tovar, D-Tolleson (District 13), released the following statement after U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton ruled that Arizona police can now begin enforcing one of the most controversial aspects of SB 1070. Starting immediately, police officers can question the immigration status of anyone suspected of being in the country illegally.


“Today’s decision is disappointing, but it does not change the fact that SB 1070 is bad policy,” Tovar said. “Regardless of the ruling, it remains divisive and it does little to address the serious issues Arizonans are facing. It will fuel the fire of Tea Party extremism when we should be working together to create jobs and improve education. Immigration reform is a serious issue and Arizonans expect comprehensive and sensible immigration policies from the leaders in this state. Unfortunately, SB 1070 falls short on both counts.”





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Quezada encourages ABOR to allow in-state tuition for students in the deferred-action deportation program

Quezada encourages ABOR to allow in-state tuition for students in the deferred-action deportation program

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Martin Quezada, D-Avondale (District 13), recently sent a letter to the members of the Arizona Board of Regents encouraging them to join the Maricopa Community College District in offering in-state tuition for students who have successfully entered the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” program.


“These students have proven that they are contributing members of our society. If they are granted deferred action, we know that they were brought here as children and that they are embracing America’s ideals of service and education,” Quezada said in the letter.


Additionally, Quezada said offering in-state tuition to students in the program would support ABOR’s mission.

“I strongly believe in the ABOR mission of ‘ensuring access for residents of Arizona to undergraduate and graduate institutions,’ and your ability to ‘provide leadership and a unifying voice on key higher education issues,’ as your vision suggests,” he wrote. “With your support the entire system could become a symbol of hope for these students and provide uniform and assured access to higher education.”

The “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” program allows certain young people, who were brought into the country as children, who are not a risk to national security or public safety, and who meet other criteria, to be considered for temporary relief from deportation. For more information on the program and a list of eligibility criteria, go to http://www.dhs.gov/news/2012/06/15/secretary-napolitano-announces-deferred-action-process-young-people-who-are-low.



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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Arizona Public Health Association names Hobbs ‘Policymaker of the Year’

Arizona Public Health Association names Hobbs ‘Policymaker of the Year’


STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Katie Hobbs, D-Phoenix (District 15), is the Arizona Public Health Association’s 2012 Policymaker of the Year. She earned the award because of her work to increase access to health care for women and all Arizonans and to improve CPS efficiency.

 
“Recognition from the AzPHA means a lot to me,” Hobbs said. “House Democrats worked hard this year to protect Arizonans’ access to health care. It is an honor that the AzPHA took notice of that dedication. I am thrilled to receive this award.”


In a letter to Hobbs, AzPHA President Pete Wertheim wrote, “In a year with numerous bills that were introduced to limit access to health care and preventative services, you stood tall and strongly supported heath care services for every Arizonan.”


Wertheim noted Hobbs’ ability to garner bipartisan support for bills including HB 2794, which Hobbs introduced and made Child Protective Services more efficient. He also applauded her support of HB 2472, which expanded access to breast and cervical cancer treatment. Additionally, he commended Hobbs for standing against HB 2625, a bill that limits women’s access to health care.


“We made some progress this year, improving CPS efficiency and access to breast and cervical cancer treatment,” Hobbs said. “We also lost ground when HB 2625 became law. Clearly, there is still a lot of work to be done and I remain committed to increasing access to health care for Arizonans.”

Hobbs will receive the award at the AzPHA Annual Awards and Fundraising Dinner on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012 at the Arcadia Room beginning at 5 p.m. AzPHA is a non-profit organization founded in 1928. It has more than 550 members including health care professionals, state and county health employees, health educators, community advocates, doctors, nurses, students and faculty, and anyone interested in public health issues.

For more information about the AzPHA and the awards dinner, go to www.azpha.org.



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Monday, September 10, 2012

Ableser calls on AIA to investigate Saguaro High School following forfeited football game


Ableser calls on AIA to investigate Saguaro High School following forfeited football game
STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Ed Ableser, D-Tempe (District 17), is urging the Arizona Interscholastic Association to investigate Saguaro High School after recent reports of dangerous and unsportsmanlike conduct during a football game between Saguaro and Tempe High School on Friday, Sept. 7.

Ableser said Tempe students, athletes, teachers, parents and staff contacted him following the game that Tempe High School forfeited after only 22 minutes of play, during which several Tempe students were injured so badly they had to go to the hospital.


“I am disheartened to learn that Tempe High School is facing a penalty for forfeiting a game on the basis of protecting student safety,” Ableser said. “The Tempe staff and coaches should be commended for this decision.”

Ableser is sending a formal letter to school officials and the AIA, calling for an investigation of and possible sanctions for Saguaro High School. In the letter he wrote, “It is apparent to me that the (Saguaro High School) administration and staff have lost control over the direction of their football program. A display of unsportsmanlike conduct, like that exhibited by the Saguaro football team, should never occur again in high school football.”

A copy of the text of the letter is below.
****************************************************************************************
As a former State Senator and the current State Representative of District 17, representing Scottsdale and Tempe for the past seven years, I write this letter out of grave concern. Although I was not present for the Friday, September 7th, 2012, high school football game between Tempe High School and Saguaro High School, I have heard from many players, students, teachers, parents, and staff about the actions that ensued.

Student safety should be the first and foremost concern of the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA). More importantly, holding competing institutions to the vision statement of AIA, this is to “teach, enforce, advocate and model the principles of the Arizona Accord and Pursing Victory with Honor.” Student safety is such a concern that many state governments, including Arizona, have passed legislation protecting the student-athlete from concussions and other potentially harmful injuries. Governing laws, ethics, and codes of conduct should be taken seriously and enforced in order to protect our children.

I have read reports of possible violations that may be levied on Tempe High School for choosing to put the safety of their students first before undignified play. I believe any talk of violation on the school or staff would be not only confounding, but absurd in respect with what happened to the student-athletes at Tempe High School. I hope that the AIA takes a complimentary approach to Principal Yslas, Athletic Director Arredondo, and Coach Walker for their bravery and commitment to student safety. Their actions should be rewarded and highlighted for other athletic programs to follow.

Furthermore, I implore the AIA to investigate and explore possible sanctions on Saguaro High School for their actions and behaviors this past weekend. It is apparent to me that the administration and staff have lost control over the direction of their football program. A display of unsportsmanlike conduct, like that exhibited by the Saguaro football team, should never occur again in high school football. A team that had several personal fouls and unsportsmanlike conduct infractions, and one player being ejected all before half-time, should raise eyebrows. On top of all of that, the fact that two Tempe High students (Emmanuel Gant & Terry’on Wycoff) were taken to the hospital and two other students (Messiah Smith & Jordan Wiatr) were badly injured and forced to leave the game, only further highlights the severity of Saguaro’s actions.

What’s even more alarming is the way the staff and players of the Saguaro football team handled these injuries. I have heard that Saguaro players bragged about injuring Tempe players and hurled threats to other Tempe players that they too will “get f***ed up!” Moreover, I have read quotes from Saguaro’s Coach Mohns in the newspaper in which he downplayed his players’ actions and did not take responsibility. What type of example does this set for our youth and community?

This letter is being sent to both administrations and governing bodies of each school along with various media outlets to inform them of my concern and expectations. I will await a response from your association regarding what is being done to monitor and regulate the actions of the violating school. Thank you for taking my concerns into account and doing what it takes to repair this situation.



Sincerely,

Representative Ed Ableser




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Friday, September 07, 2012

Hobbs: ‘Finding resources for the overwhelmed CPS system must be a priority … we need action now’

Hobbs: ‘Finding resources for the overwhelmed CPS system must be a priority … we need action now’

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Katie Hobbs, D-Phoenix (District 15), is calling on Speaker of the House Andy Tobin, R-Paulden (District 1), and Senate President Steve Pierce, R-Prescott (District 1), to convene the Child Protective Services Oversight Committee and fulfill an obligation to find solutions for the challenges the agency is facing. Recent reports that CPS is nearly 500 employees short of meeting caseload standards and data from the Department of Economic Security showing the detrimental effects of an overwhelmed CPS system prompted Hobbs to make this call to action.

The CPS Oversight Committee, created by HB 2249, is mandated to identify areas of improvement for the agency and make recommendations by Nov. 15, 2012. To date, the committee, which comprises several state legislators, a representative from DES, a member of a law enforcement agency, a CPS caseworker, a foster parent, and a guardian, has not been created.

“This can’t wait,” Hobbs said. “CPS has a vital role in keeping Arizona kids safe. We need action now. We’re weeks away from a Nov. 15 deadline and the committee still does not exist. I am asking Speaker Tobin and President Pierce to fulfill their responsibilities, appoint bipartisan state legislators to this committee, and get to work immediately. Every moment we waste, we leave children in jeopardy.”

An Arizona Children’s Action Alliance analysis of DES data indicates that reports of child abuse and neglect have increased 24 percent since October 2009 and that CPS caseloads are too high – more than 50 percent above standards. Also, there are 37 percent more children in foster care since October 2009, while the number of foster homes is decreasing at an alarming rate.

“This year, we were able to work together to pass legislation that helps CPS become more efficient so that Arizona children would be better protected,” Hobbs said. “It wasn’t enough. Clearly, there is still much work that needs to be done. Finding resources for the overwhelmed CPS system must be a priority.”

Hobbs was referring to HB 2794, a bill she proposed, which enacted several of the recommendations outlined in a 2011 report from the Arizona Child Safety Task Force. The CPS Oversight Committee is to pick up where the task force left off. HB 2794 received broad, bipartisan support. It recently went into effect and does the following:

• Defines domestic violence as a crime against children if a child is present during an altercation.
• Requires a peace officer to determine if a minor is present when responding to a domestic violence call.
• Requires a peace officer to conduct a child welfare check to determine if the child is safe or if the child might be a victim of domestic violence or child abuse when responding to a domestic violence call.
• Ensures there are no court orders in other states prohibiting a parent/guardian from seeing a child before the parent/guardian is allowed to see the child in Arizona.
• Requires DES and each county attorney to submit a separate annual report regarding joint CPS investigations.
• Requires that joint investigation CPS reports be independently prepared and submitted without collusion between agencies.


“We made some progress this year,” Hobbs said. “We still have a long way to go. As long as CPS lacks the resources needed to address the growing caseloads, children will be in danger and that is unacceptable.”

For more information on the task force report and to see the recommendations, go to https://www.azdes.gov/main.aspx?menu=10&id=7197. To see the Arizona Children’s Action Alliance analysis of DES data, go to http://www.azchildren.org/display.asp?pageId=75&parentId=23. To see additional coverage of this topic, go to http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/news/articles/2012/09/06/20120906arizona-cps-staffing-turmoil-dire.html.



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