“The Legislature this week passed a $9.2 billion budget that is now before Gov. Jan Brewer. It includes $57.2 million for child welfare changes and staffing increases. Most Republican lawmakers refused to fund child welfare at the amount Brewer requested — roughly $80 million — to replace Child Protective Services with a stand-alone department called Child Safety and Family Services that reports directly to the governor.”
“The Arizona Legislature ended weeks of back-and-forth on the budget by approving a $9.2 billion spending plan that leaves the key issue of the session — an overhaul of the state's child-welfare system — undone.”
“A deal on a state budget in hand after days of wrangling between Republican factions, the Arizona House on Thursday evening adopted a $9.24 billion state budget that made changes to a plan passed by the Senate.”
“Labor Minister Don Morgan says the minimum wage in Saskatchewan will increase this year. The hike will bring the wage, currently $10 per hour, up to par with other provinces’ rates, on top of the introduction of the government’s new indexation system, Morgan said on Monday.”
“Here's a sad reality of life in today's Arizona: More than half a million women live in poverty.”
“Jon McLane has spent the past two years living on the streets of Tucson. He's one of thousands of homeless men, women and children who usually don't get much attention from this community. Except when they're considered as being in the way.”
“Their descent into homelessness began almost as soon as they had closed a dignified chapter in their lives: their military service.”
“Phoenix says it eradicated chronic veteran homelessness Wednesday. Three years ago a state coalition aimed at ending chronic homelessness among veterans identified 222 living in Phoenix. As of early November, 56 remained, but a $100,000 allocation of funds enabled the city to house them all as of mid-week, winning what the mayor’s office described as a friendly competition with Utah’s Salt Lake City to become the first U.S. city to do so.”
“The revelations come as caseworkers at the agency, Child Protective Services, have been taking on a record number of cases regarding child neglect or abuse. Among the shelved files were 5,000 reports made in the last 20 months to a child welfare hotline that Gov. Jan Brewer had taken credit for reorganizing.”
“Under a law Arizona voters approved in 2006, Castillo and others earning minimum wage will receive a 10-cents-per-hour increase to $7.90 starting Jan. 1. For tipped workers, the state minimum wage will rise from $4.80 to $4.90 per hour.”
“The Phoenix City Council is expected to set aside $100,000 today to help house a final group of 56 chronically homeless Valley veterans.”
“From the 2011 U.S. Census figures, Tucson came in with the eighth highest poverty rate in large metropolitan areas, and now a study in partnership with the UA and the city of Tucson wants to provide some answers and direction that policy-makers can use.”
“Days after her administration said thousands of Arizona’s poorest families would not get welfare checks because of the federal shutdown, Gov. Jan Brewer late Monday ordered the state’s safety-net agency to make this month’s payments.”
“An Arizona law that makes it a crime to beg for money or food in public is unconstitutional, a federal judge has ruled.”
“Gov. Jan Brewer has ordered the Arizona Department of Economic Security to use $650,000 from its budget to support the federal program for low-income families through the end of this month.”
“An Arizona city that led the nation in its aggressive stance on panhandling reversed course Tuesday night, setting in motion the apparent demise of a century-old state law that criminalized begging.”
“As metro Tucson's poverty climbed in the last decade, welfare became harder to get and the amount Arizona set aside for child-care subsidies dropped from $83 million to zero between 2008 and 2011. The rest of the money for the program is federal. Also, fewer parents are getting child support they are owed.”
“Job prospects are slim and unemployment is high. More than half of children in the Tohono O'odham Nation and 42 percent of Pascua Yaqui children are impoverished, compared with 24 percent of all children in Pima County. High school graduation rates are lower than the rest of the county and even among graduates, poverty is entrenched.”
“Tucson's troubled housing market has been a factor in the area's entrenched poverty for decades, planners and housing advocates say. The recession made affordable housing even tougher to find as owners lost their houses and demand for apartments soared. But while other areas slammed by the economy recover, Tucson is still hurting.”
“Lujan is in a growing class of Tucsonans - many of them single parents - who have jobs but still struggle to pay their bills. About 80,000 Pima County households rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly called food stamps. That figure is double what it was six years ago.”
“As of May 2012, Tucson workers made, on average, about 7 percent less per hour than the national rate, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show. And the gap is getting bigger: A year earlier, the difference was 5 percent.”
“Parenting alone and hardly getting by. In Pima County, this scenario is all too common for young mothers with little education and poor job prospects.”
“Critics say that report, based on the 2011 American Community Survey, is flawed because it doesn't account for Tucson's unique demographics. But crunching the data a variety of ways reveals a consistent and indisputable truth: Too many Tucsonans are poor, and children are the worst off.”
“This investigation was spurred by a U.S. Census Bureau report that says Tucson, with more than 1 in 5 people living in poverty, is the nation's sixth-poorest major metropolitan area.”
“For Gov. Jan Brewer, the passage last month of a Medicaid expansion was a major coup. Despite a Republican majority in the Legislature, where she faced significant opposition from Tea Party members, she rallied the entire Democratic delegation to her side and made a progressive issue palatable to just enough conservatives, casting the expansion as the right decision for the state, morally and monetarily.”
“Witness, the state’s fight over Medicaid expansion. Hospital and business-backed supporters of the Medicaid expansion recently approved by Gov. Jan Brewer and the Legislature are doing their best to keep a conservative repeal ballot measure away from voters.”
“Since the delivery of her State of the State address in January, Brewer had been fighting for the Medicaid expansion, which will allow anyone below 133 percent of the federal poverty level to be eligible for insurance through the state's AHCCCS program.”
“Brewer, one of the state's conservative firebrands who has attracted a national following with her messages of states' rights and border security, is walking a political tightrope as she pushes to reshape how the state provides health care to the poor.”
“She leads an organization that has become the voice of Arizona's poor. The association provides training and technical support to 11 Community Action Agencies. These agencies use federal funds distributed by the state to help families struggling to pay rent, keep the air conditioning and lights on, and put food on the table. The association also partners with 59 other state organizations working to help low-income people.”
“The next few weeks could prove critical in determining the direction of Arizona's debate over Medicaid expansion, setting the stage for months of interparty rancor or a relatively smooth transition into a critical phase of federal health-care reform.”
"To make their case, they are pressing the idea that expanding Medicaid, the federal and state program that provides healthcare to poor and disabled people, is the best way to stabilize the
state's health care system, already buckling under the weight of caring for uninsured patients."
“The cuts would hit everything from small business loans, Pentagon and border security to federal grants and spending for preschools, Native American health centers, college financial aid and assistance programs for low income children, college students and senior citizens. Fiscal conservatives and critics of the president counter the warnings are scare tactics aimed at ginning up economic, military and safety net fears.”
“Of the 1.8 million Hispanics living in the state, about 469,000, or 25.8 percent, live below the poverty line. Arizona's poverty rate among Hispanics is a few points higher than the national average of 23.2 percent.”
“A federal waiver allowing Arizona's Medicaid program to charge low-income, childless adults co-pays for medical care was issued without a proper explanation, according to a federal judge who ordered officials to review the decision within two months.”
“The Fulbrights exemplify one of Arizona's most pressing child-welfare issues: supporting struggling families to prevent child neglect so their kids don't join the hundreds coming into foster care every month. The increasing number of kids in foster care comes at a great cost to the children, their families and state taxpayers.”
“The $1.6 billion in federal funding will enable Arizona to provide health insurance for an additional 240,000 residents and continue insuring 50,000 childless adults, according to a state government memo explaining the expansion plan. Agreeing to expand Medicaid means protecting rural hospitals from growing costs in caring for the uninsured, infusing $2 billion into the state's economy while saving and creating thousands of jobs and providing healthcare to hundreds of thousands of low-income Arizonans, Brewer said.”
“Circle the City, a non-profit organization founded in 2008 to provide medical and social services to the Valley's homeless, operates the center. The center's leaders hope it will prevent homeless people from returning to the hospital for expensive emergency care.”
“One of out of five Arizonans; one out of four Californians and 16 percent of all Americans are poor, according new economic calculations by the U.S. government.”
“New research from On Numbers shows Arizona has some of the highest poverty rates in the nation for both individuals and families. The state ranks 41st with a family poverty rate of 14 percent and 44th in the nation for an individual poverty rate of 19 percent.”
“Called Phoenix Access to Care Ordinance, the measure would asses Phoenix hospitals short-term fees depending on the amount of revenue they create, and then draw down a 2-to-1 match of federal dollars. The funding then would be transferred to the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System to pay in part for uncompensated care for low income and uninsured patients.”
“The poverty rate among married couples in Arizona is somewhat higher, 9.4percent, undoubtedly because of a larger number of immigrant-led families, something also associated with elevated poverty rates. But in Arizona, the poverty rate in families led by single mothers is still four times as high as in married families.”
“Salt River Project's board of directors voted unanimously Thursday for a $100million annual rate increase with a small concession to solar developers and more credits for low-income customers.”
“The Arizona Department of Education recently announced 123 ‘reward schools’ in the state, including Barbara B.Robey Elementary in Litchfield Park, Corte Sierra Elementary in Avondale and Wigwam Creek Middle School in Litchfield Park. The reward designations are part of a state program that recognizes achievement in TitleI schools, said Molly Edwards, an Arizona Department of Education spokeswoman. Title I schools have large numbers of poor students and often those students have lower scores on standardized tests. By definition, more than 40percent of students at those schools qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.”
"Millions of poor people could still be left without medical insurance under the national health care law if states take an option granted by the Supreme Court and decide not to expand their Medicaid programs, state officials and health policy experts said Friday."
"But it also serves to highlight complicated links between poverty, nutrition, obesity and overall well-being. Insecurity or hunger? 'Those public service announcements come back to haunt me,' said Mark Nord, the USDA sociologist in charge of food insecurity data."
"When a hospital discharges a homeless, uninsured patient, the hospital pays a nursing home or a nurse at a hotel so the patient has a place to heal under supervised care. Sometimes hospitals even keep the patients in their own beds, which can become very costly."
"Yet a new report shows that funding across the country by states has declined over the past two years — to the tune of about $90 million — even though enrollment has increased. What’s more, a number of states don’t even fund early pre-K programs."
Mitt Romney, who leads the race for the Republican presidential nomination, has said he would place similar restrictions on 'all these federal programs.' One of his rivals, Rick Santorum, calls the welfare law a source of spiritual rejuvenation. ‘It didn’t just cut the rolls, but it saved lives,’ Mr. Santorum said, giving the poor ‘something dependency doesn’t give: hope.’ President Obama spoke favorably of the program in his 2008 campaign — promoting his role as a state legislator in cutting the Illinois welfare rolls. But he has said little about it as president."
"The measure would have allowed Arizona schools to opt out of the National School Lunch Program, which offers low-income pupils free or reduced-price lunches at most public schools. Charter schools and private schools are exempt from the federal program."
"The Foundation for Child Development’s new report on state-level differences in the Index of Child Well-Being – a broad quality-of-life indicator based on 25 indicators – shows enormous variation, as does another set of indicators known as Kids Count, developed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation."
“A plan by three hospital groups to leverage more federal cash for themselves will also help provide care to more than 19,000 children of the working poor, at least temporarily.”
"Attorney Joe Kanefield told a three-judge panel of the Arizona Court of Appeals that the voter-approved measure, which allowed everyone under the federal poverty level to qualify for health coverage, doesn't force the Legislature to pay for it."
"Two key program cuts already have won federal approval, and more than 100,000 Arizonans are expected to lose health coverage in the first year as a result. The remaining cuts affect thousands more, including an estimated 30,000 low-income parents who are expected to lose coverage by next July."
"'Now more than ever the needs are significant,' he said in a prepared text, pointing out that Arizona's poverty rate has risen to 18.6 percent, well above the national poverty rate of 15.1 percent."
"Over the past year his erratic, disruptive behavior led Marc Center employees to call Mesa police at least once. He is believed to be homeless, she said, but contact with him has been sporadic since last winter."
"A lower-court judge last month refused to block the cuts, agreeing with attorneys for Brewer and the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System that a voter-approved law requiring health coverage for all Arizonans below the federal poverty level doesn't force the Legislature to pay for it."
"Some expect that Arizona's share of uninsured will likely swell when next year's numbers come out. Enrollment freezes in Arizona's KidsCare program for low-income children and their families took effect in 2010."
"A list of states and the federal enclave compiled by the Con Agra Foods Foundation and reprinted recently in The New York Times reveals that in the District 32.3 percent, or 36,870 boys and girls, face food deprivation. The District is followed closely by Oregon with 29.2 percent, or 252,510 children, and Arizona and Arkansas with 28.8 percent and 28.6 percent, respectively."
"A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that mandatory copayments charged to Arizona's poorest residents violate federal law. The three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said federal health officials failed to show how the copays, imposed in November after a seven-year court battle, served any purpose besides cutting the state's Medicaid budget."
"'There's much more demand,' he said. 'There are more homeless kids coming since the economy started to be hit hard, but since 2006, we've seen the demand rise to what we think are unprecedented rates.'"
"In terms of poverty, Arizona ranks 38th in the U.S. The state, with 23 percent of children living in poverty, has consistently had a child-poverty rate higher than the national average, which is 20 percent. The federal poverty level is $18,530 for a family of three."
"A handful of public schools in Arizona are the first to undertake an ambitious new program this year to not only improve what students learn but also to demand results and reward them by allowing some to graduate two years sooner."
"Along with the students in the gifted program, the school has a high percentage of children who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. Knox is a Title I school, meaning it receives federal funding based on the poverty level of families and students who live in its attendance area."