2018 Legislative forecast: Finding money for public schools

(Photo by Ellen O'Brien/Arizona Capitol Times)
(Photo by Ellen O’Brien/Arizona Capitol Times)

Gov. Doug Ducey kicks off the legislative session Monday with a call for more education funding — but not with the tax hikes that some say are necessary to provide truly adequate funding for schools.

In an interview with Capitol Media Services, the governor said the state has made a “significant investment” in K-12 education, saying aid to schools is $700 million higher now than it was three years ago.

“More is needed,” he said, saying the details of his budget will have to wait.

But the governor rejected suggestions and proposals by several different education and business groups that the quickest — and easiest — way to raise the revenues needed is to boost state sales taxes, curb tax credits or close what some describe as “loopholes” in the tax code.

Gov. Doug Ducey
Gov. Doug Ducey

“I’m not raising taxes,” he said.

Instead, Ducey insists that he can find the money elsewhere in the budget.

“Our economy is growing,” he said. “Our state government is being operated more effectively and efficiently.”

But the kind of money Ducey can find through such savings is unlikely to satisfy those who cite not only Arizona’s reputation of being at or near the bottom of per-student funding but the problems in both attracting and retaining teachers. And that starts with 2,000 classrooms not having qualified teachers at the helm, instead being run by substitutes or students being forced into overcrowded classrooms.

Senate Minority Leader Katie Hobbs was more succinct in her criticism of the governor’s contention that the state can adequately meet education needs with savings elsewhere.

“We’ve got all the change from the couch cushions that there is,” she said.

It’s not just Democrats and educators who are critical of Ducey’s position that the state can fund education without additional revenues. He also is increasingly at odds with those who otherwise might be considered allies.

It starts with the debate of the future of the 0.6-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2000 specifically to fund education. Without action, it will self-destruct in 2021, along with the approximately $600 million it raises.

The governor said he supports simply asking voters to extend it, insisting it could be reformed in a way to generate more dollars. He also doesn’t want any action this year, a move that House Minority Leader Rebecca Rios called “incredibly irresponsible.”

Beyond that, others say education needs more than that 0.6-cent tax raises.

In this Nov. 16, 2017, photo, Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas addresses about 50 school district and charter school representatives at her department's annual MEGA Conference on programs and services for low-income students. In October, the Arizona Department of Education revealed it had misallocated millions in Title I funding, federal dollars for the state's most economically disadvantaged kids. (Photo by Katie Campbell/Arizona Capitol Times)
Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas  (Photo by Katie Campbell/Arizona Capitol Times)

Diane Douglas, the state superintendent of public instruction, favors boosting the levy to a full penny, figuring to use three-fourths of that to boost teacher salaries by about 10 percent.

Jim Swanson, CEO of construction firm Kitchell Corp., thinks even more than that is needed, suggesting a doubling of the 0.6 cent levy.

And others, including Phil Francis, the former CEO of PetSmart, said it probably will take a 1.6-cent tax to produce the revenues needed.

Even the more fiscally conservative members of the business community are saying something more is needed to generate more dollars.

“Tax revenues are not matching the health of the economy, not just in Arizona but across the country,” said Glenn Hamer, president of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, blaming much of that to the increase in online purchases whose tax revenues are not captured. Hamer said he wants to look at reform, opening the door to expanding the list of items and services that are taxed, though he has no specific revenue number in mind.

And Kevn McCarthy, executive director of the business-oriented Arizona Tax Research Association, said he could support a tax increase. But he said that is contingent on cleaning up other disparities in education funding, like some school districts getting more money per student because of things like desegregation expenses.

desk-books-school-620All that puts Ducey in the position of being a holdout amid increased public focus on the state’s public education system and concern that children are being shortchanged because of the state’s failure to put more dollars into K-12 education.

There is no dispute over the numbers. Even Ducey press aide Daniel Scarpinato concedes that current per-student funding, after adjusting for inflation, is still not back to where it was before the recession.

There’s also the separate fact that Ducey, who convinced voters in 2016 to tap a special trust fund to end a lawsuit against the state, insisted that the cash that generates would be just the first step toward improving education funding.

But questions remain about what has been produced so far, with teacher salaries up just 1 percent this year.

Ducey promised another 1 percent for the coming school year. But that still leaves salaries far short of what they are in virtually every other state.

The question of how short depends on who you ask — and what ruler they use.

For example, the Morrison Institute says that elementary school teacher pay is the lowest in the nation, even when adjusted for statewide cost of living; high school pay is not far behind at 49.

By contrast, the Arizona Tax Research Association, which represents major taxpayers, has its own way of looking at it.

“While we do stipulate and recognize Arizona’s teach pay ranking has dropped in the last 20 years, we do not agree with the assertion that Arizona is last by any measure,” said Sean McCarthy, the organization’s senior research analyst.

So where does it believe Arizona falls? No. 28 adjusted for per-capita income.

Ducey said those numbers, even if correct, are not where Arizona should be.

“I believe we need to come up on teacher salaries,” he said.

“It’s very hard work to teach a kid, especially a kid that’s not learning,” the governor continued. “They’re putting the work in. They’re getting the results. And I want to see the dollars flow to them.”

But the governor sidestepped questions of where he believes teacher salaries in Arizona should be in comparison to the rest of the country, saying his focus is on the trendline.

“What I look at is how are we doing this year versus previous year and are we making improvements year over year,” he said.

There’s another big education decision facing Ducey and lawmakers: whether to block voters from getting the last word on the expansion of the program that provides vouchers to parents to send their children to private and parochial schools.

Foes gathered more than 100,000 signatures following last year’s vote, holding up up enactment until November when those who go to the polls would get to decide whether to ratify or reject what the Legislature approved. Supporters have responded by asking the courts to void the referendum, citing what they said are various irregularities.

If those legal efforts falter, the only way to quash a vote on what would be Proposition 305 would be for lawmakers to alter last year’s legislation.

That presents a political question for lawmakers.

If it remains on the ballot, that could bring out foes of expansion. And once they’re voting “no” on more vouchers, they could just as easily spread their displeasure with those who enacted it in the first place, including Ducey.

A legal challenge to that petition drive has yet to get a final ruling.

Other education-related issues likely to provoke debate include:

– Extending funding for special career and education programs now in high schools to ninth grade;

– Requiring all high schoolers to take a college-entrance examination;

– Revamping and reenacting a law voided by a federal judge aimed at “ethnic studies” programs that prohibit things like teaching ethnic solidarity;

– Capping the year-over-year increases in what corporations can divert from state income taxes to groups that give scholarships to help students attend private and parochial schools;

– Requiring parents to be notified when their student athletes suffer a concussion.

Arizona cuts to college student support still among steepest in nation

ASU sign Arizona State University 620

State support for students at Arizona’s three public universities has fallen by 53.8 percent since 2008, more than three times the national decline over the same period, according to a new report.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said the Arizona cuts were the most extreme example of a national trend that has seen a total reduction in state aid of nearly $9 billion over the 10 years, as states scrambled to close budget gaps caused by the recession.

Despite efforts by states in recent years to reverse the trend – including in Arizona, where state support per student rose 4.25 percent last year – the report’s authors said they worry that those increases are slowing down.

“The clear majority of states have been reinvesting and that has been a broad trend over the past few years,” said Michael Mitchell, a senior policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, in a call on the August 30 report.

“But there are indications that we can see that this reinvestment is trailing off and the amount of reinvestment that we’ve seen over the past few years just hasn’t been enough to make up for the drastic magnitude of cuts over the time period we’re looking at,” he said.

Those cuts average 16 percent per student nationally since 2008, the report said.

Arizona’s 53.8 percent reduction was largest in the nation, with Louisiana next-closest with a 44.9 percent reduction. In terms of an actual dollar reduction, however, Arizona’s per-student cut of $3,450 was fourth-highest, behind Louisiana, New Mexico and Alabama.

While the cuts have been partially offset by increases in federal aid – an average Pell grant grew 23 percent during the period – steady increases in tuition continue to make college unaffordable for many, according to the report.

“We have seen increases in federal student aid, but in states where tuition costs have increased rapidly those additional federal investments have not kept up with rising college costs,” Mitchell said. “The net cost of attendance has increased even for low-income students at four-year colleges.”

Vianney Careaga, student regent on the Arizona Board of Regents, said in an email that the report’s “findings do not surprise me, but rather echo similar findings in reports issued” by the regents.

Careaga and others pointed to recent efforts to improve the situation in Arizona. Those include the regents’ “50-50” plan, which aims to increase per-student aid for state residents from the 2015 level of 34 percent to a level of 50 percent – an improvement, but still well below the 2008 level of 72.2 percent.

Sarah Harper, a spokeswoman for the board, said in an emailed statement that the state budgeted $8 million toward that plan this year and $15 million next, adding that the regents are “grateful” for the support of the model by Gov. Doug Ducey and the Legislature.

Advocates also point to a law signed by the governor this year that they say will allow the state’s universities to fund up to $1 billion in infrastructure and research projects in coming years.

Rep. Paul Boyer (R-Phoenix)
Rep. Paul Boyer (R-Phoenix)

The prime sponsor of that bill, Rep. Paul Boyer, R-Phoenix, said more support is needed, but the state is in a tough spot.

“We got here because of decisions the state made between fiscal year 2004 and fiscal year 2009, which brought about $4.7 billion in new spending,” said Boyer, the chairman of the House Education Committee. “We had ongoing permanent spending without an ongoing permanent revenue source.”

He said the state needs to have “taxation that is predictable” to increase higher education support. But education funding is a large part of the budget, Boyer said, making it a target for cuts.

Children’s health no less important than education


Not all Arizona children have access to affordable health care in Arizona. The income level of some parents is above the threshold to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford private insurance on the marketplace. This financial purgatory leaves health care of children in limbo.

Thankfully, Children’s Health Insurance Program, or better known as KidsCare, is a program for Arizona children that provides parents the opportunity to maintain health care access for their children while they advance their careers and can get to a place where they can afford private

Traci Pritchard
Traci Pritchard

health care insurance. Without KidsCare, many parents would be faced with the decision to forego preventative care or reduce work hours so their income would drop to a level where they become Medicaid eligible.

KidsCare is an investment in all Arizona citizens. Health and wellness of all Arizona children is as integral to our society as is the mandate that we already accept of primary public education of all Arizona children. Similarly, we currently accept that educating every child in Arizona benefits society greater than the expenditure. KidsCare is no less important.

KidsCare has seen many changes over the years. Arizona froze enrollment in KidsCare back in 2010, but the governor and Legislature lifted the freeze in 2016. This policy change has had a profound effect on thousands of children. When the program was frozen in 2016, KidsCare enrollment hit an all time low of 528 members, but since lifting the freeze, 33,986 children now receive much needed health insurance. During the 2017 legislative session, the Legislature included a provision in the budget that requires KidsCare enrollment to be frozen if federal funding for the program drops below 100 percent. Federal funding is scheduled to drop to 90.5 percent on October 1, 2019.

Arizona must take a stand for the children who will be affected if enrollment is once again frozen. Freezing KidsCare again is not good health care policy. Experts agree that children enrolled in KidsCare miss fewer days of school, do not forgo preventative health care services and are less likely to use an emergency room for health care services.

The physician community strongly supports Arizona’s participation in KidsCare and hopes that the Legislature will take a strong stand for children by repealing the 2017 law and appropriate the necessary funds to continue to insure children.

Traci Pritchard is president of the Arizona Medical Association.

Confusion abounds over Ducey’s public-school performance pay plan

Gov. Doug Ducey
Gov. Doug Ducey (Photo by Katie Campbell/Arizona Capitol Times)

Gov. Doug Ducey’s signature performance pay plan for excelling schools still has districts questioning when they will receive money and how exactly it must be spent.

The results-based funding plan was one of the biggest chunks of new spending in Ducey’s budget proposal. The money rewards high-performing schools by giving them more money to spend on teachers or expansions of successful programs and practices.

The program, totaling $38 million this year, will provide schools that score in the top 10 percent on the 2016 AzMerit tests additional money per student. Next year, schools will be assessed based on the letter grade they receive in the state’s rating system.

Districts are relying on a list of about 250 schools compiled by the Joint Legislative Budget Committee in the spring, but the official list of schools that will receive money, and how much they receive, has not been finalized by the Arizona Department of Education.

Districts, which adopted their budgets in July, haven’t been told when to expect payments from the results-based funding initiative. They haven’t been directed, beyond what’s in the approved budget, on where they can use the money.

“This budget item and this funding was really well-intended, but it wasn’t thought out as well as it should have been,” said James Lee, superintendent of Paradise Valley Unified School District. “Districts are scrambling to figure out how to use it.”

All this as students are getting ready to begin the school year in the coming days and weeks.

The Department of Education will provide additional information, including the dates and amounts of payments, to schools on the results-based funding program within the next month, department spokesman Stefan Swiat said in an email.

Swiat said the schools should receive results-based payments in September and May, though multiple school districts told the Arizona Capitol Times they have not yet been told when they will get the money.

The majority of the money should be used to hire more teachers or pay them better, or for teacher professional development, the law creating the performance funding plan said. Some of the money can be used to expand or replicate the successful schools’ models, including adding more spots for students at those schools, physically expanding schools, or mentoring other schools.

It could be tough for schools to add new teachers using the results-based funding this year, considering teacher contracts are typically signed in the spring. And since the funding is based on performance in a given year, districts are wary of including it in teacher salaries.

Low-income schools, defined as those with 60 percent or more students qualifying for the free or reduced lunch program, would get $400 per student if they score in the top 10 percent of all low-income schools.

High-income schools, meaning those with less than 60 percent of students on free or reduced lunch plans, would get $225 per pupil if they score in the top 10 percent of all schools.

Several districts that were identified on the JLBC list put the anticipated money into their official budgets, but still don’t have firm plans on how to spend it.

For example, five schools in the Washington Elementary School District qualified for the additional $400 per student, based on the JLBC list.

The district’s business manager, Cathy Thompson, said a school could spend the money on professional development programs for teaching math, mentoring, training or additional small-group learning opportunities for students.

Matt Strom, the assistant superintendent at the Chandler Unified School District, said he’s not concerned about the timing of the payments since he knows the program is funded. Chandler Unified will treat the money as one-time funding, as it has with previous governor-initiated programs, Strom said.

“Sometimes these things are here this year and gone the next,” he said.

The additional money could be used for operating costs like teacher salaries or on expanding access to the successful schools, Strom said. Chandler Unified’s legal counsel has reviewed the budget language to make sure the school spends the money as allowed by law, but Strom said the district would still like guidance from the Department of Education on where the money can go.

Lee, who heads Paradise Valley Unified School District, has 12 schools that could receive the additional funding, based on JLBC’s list. The district put the money in its budget, but hasn’t allocated it to any specific areas yet.

Lee said the idea of performance pay for teachers in some of his schools instead of the whole district could hinder his ability to keep or hire teachers in the ones that don’t get the added funding. He said he wants to hear how other districts will use the funding and get some guidance on some of the parts of the law that he considers open to interpretation.

The confusion over how to spend the money and how to allow for it in school budgets isn’t uncommon for new programs, said Chuck Essigs, director of government relations for the Arizona Association of School Business Officials.

“Any new legislation that passes, like the results-based funding, is hard for districts to get in place and get them operating in the next school year. That doesn’t mean the Legislature shouldn’t do new things, but first year is always difficult,” said Essigs, who has worked in school finance for several decades.

Essigs said there are still questions over what districts have to do with the money and what they may do with the money based on the budget language. And the law says the schools have to be making “steady improvement” in order to continue getting funding after three years, but doesn’t specifically say what that entails, Essigs said.

Handling the timing of payments shouldn’t be tough for most districts, said Chris Kotterman, head of governmental relations for the Arizona School Boards Association. It’s essentially a cash flow management issue, and schools are good at managing cash flow, he said.

But these kinds of questions, over timing of payments and where funds can be used, come up when special programs are created to target certain districts instead of the school system as a whole, Kotterman said.

“As a general rule, ASBA would advocate for schools to be funded in a way that provides the greatest predictability and equity across the board,” he said.

Dan Hargest: The man who clothed ‘Red for Ed’

Dan Hargest (Photo by Carmen Forman/Arizona Capitol Times)
Dan Hargest (Photo by Carmen Forman/Arizona Capitol Times)

Dan Hargest, owner of Acme Prints in Phoenix, started screen-printing T-shirts in his back yard in 1999. A singer in semi-famous power-pop band Pollen, the group was looking for a cheap and effective way to print T-shirts. Hargest decided to print the shirts himself — a hobby that turned into a career when Pollen broke up.

Nowadays, Hargest is more well-known as the printer who churned out nearly 25,000 “Red for Ed” shirts in the past two months for teachers across the state. The bright red shirts became a symbol of the education-funding movement, and many print shops across the state cranked out their version of the latest hot commodity. For weeks, Hargest’s shop was overflowing with colorful shirts and teachers coming to pick them up.

How did you get started printing “Red for Ed” shirts?

I’ve always thought that it’s insane that teachers aren’t regarded very highly in our country, it seems. People think that paying them a really low wage is OK, and the truth is that you’re going to have people who need to pay back their student loans, and they’re going to probably end up working in a different state as a teacher or get a different job in this state, which means that kids are going to have less qualified teachers, which means the kids are going to have not as good of an education. Arizona’s got a serious problem of that. So, I would have been behind it regardless.

The actual catalyst was that a teacher had decided to print T-shirts at home for free for other teachers when this all started up. So, she posted something online where you have to order by midnight. She was like, “Yeah, I can do 50 or 100.” When the orders came in, it was almost 3,000. She was in a panic. She called us. We printed the almost 3,000 shirts for free, which was almost $6,000 worth of printing services. We’re a very charitable company, even though we’re not that big. I’m a total bleeding heart with animals and people. I’ve been printing like all of PETA’s stuff for over a decade at cost, and I’m just really into helping when I can.

Cap Times Q&AWhen did she contact you asking for printing help?

Sleep deprivation really messes up your ability to tell time very well because the days just start melting into each other, and that’s what it’s been like for over a month. Whenever it [the “Red for Ed” movement] first started, it was like brand new and just starting to hit the news. Whenever that was.

You joked about sleep deprivation. Have you been working long hours?

We’re set up to print bulk, and even though we were actually able to print these orders, we’re not used to getting tens of thousands of individual customers. It just turned into we were a “Red for Ed” call center all of a sudden. Every phone call, we’d pick up and be like, “Red for Ed headquarters.” It was just crazy.

After the first 3,000 shirts you gave away, did you sell the others?

After the initial run, then we sold them for $6 apiece. Normally, retail shirts are going to be $15 or $20 each. That’s what most people were selling them for. Essentially, it was at cost because we were having to hire temps. It was at an extremely discounted rate at least. I expected to make essentially nothing on it.

About how many “Red for Ed” shirts did you print?

Overall, it was just shy of 25,000 shirts that we printed.

Have things slowed down now?

Oh, yeah. It has essentially stopped. We still have some people who are buying some shirts, and we are still going to be printing. We’ve gotten a lot of requests for shirts that say “Remember in November” so because we’ve got a lot left over, we’ll probably print that on the back, and we’ll offer shirts with that on the front on the website, and a few other products.

The “Red for Ed” mania has subsided.

Now that things have calmed down, have you gotten more rest?

I’m doing my best to do that. I’ve been trying to catch up on that. As of yesterday, I’ve got my first assistant manager. I started printing on my back porch, and having somebody who’s there means I can potentially go and visit my family and stuff. I was supposed to go surprise my mother for her birthday. I had already booked a trip to Florida. And I had it all planned out how we were going to surprise her. We had to postpone it, and then I had to cancel that because “Red for Ed” stuff was to the point that I was working, then falling asleep, then working.

What do you normally print at your shop?

It’s like everything. We do sports team stuff, we do a lot of businesses that need bulk shirt orders, but we also print one-off shirts. If someone wants a full color picture of grandma on a shirt for her birthday, we do that as well.

Did you make any profit printing the “Red for Ed” T-shirts?

It didn’t seem to hurt us in the very least, so that’s good. If it was really painful, I would have noticed it by now, but I haven’t. Even if it was just a wash, we got to communicate with so many potential customers so that’s where I’m really excited. Even if we didn’t make a penny off of it, we have maybe 20,000 people who directly interacted with us. The organic word-of-mouth sort of marketing has been amazing.

How did it feel to see your work clothing the “Red for Ed” movement?

It’s great when you support something like that. It’s really nice to see that it’s helping people, especially when you’re thinking that all those people there are people who don’t get paid very well. Knowing that you saved all those people $10 or $15 is really nice. You’re actually helping. I think that’s why we’ve gotten more appreciation for this than anything we’ve ever done. They appreciate that we made it affordable for them.

Deploying body-worn cameras – next steps for DPS

The Phoenix City Council in February approved a plan to pA Phoenix police officer displays a body camera. PHOTO BY BAYNE FRONEY/CRONKITE NEWS

On September 30, 2020, Gov. Doug Ducey announced a plan to deploy 150 body-worn cameras (BWCs) to troopers in the Arizona Department of Public Safety. This is an excellent first step for DPS to join the thousands of other law enforcement agencies across the United States that have already deployed BWCs. BWCs can produce numerous benefits, from improved citizen attitudes to reductions in complaints against officers and the use of force. Not all police departments experience these benefits, and one of the primary reasons is poor planning. A BWC program that is rushed and without a clear goal can actually make things worse, not better.

Agencies like DPS that are just beginning their programs have resources to draw on. The U.S. Department of Justice funds a BWC Training and Technical Assistance (TTA) team. The TTA team, which I co-direct, provides comprehensive support to agencies deploying BWCs. Over the last five years, we have assisted more than 400 law enforcement agencies. We also created a “Law Enforcement Implementation Checklist” to guide agencies as they begin a BWC program. Here are key points for DPS to consider as they begin their BWC program:

Learn the Fundamentals and Develop a Plan. DPS should identify the goals they want to achieve through their BWC program. Moreover, agency leaders should “do their homework” to guarantee that they have a clear understanding of the benefits and limitations of BWCs as well as the costs required.

Form a Working Group. DPS should form a working group to take overall responsibility for the program. All relevant units within DPS should have representation, including but not limited to command and first-line supervisors, troopers and their association, records management, and information technology.

 Develop a Good BWC Policy. Good BWC policy leads to good BWC practice. The working group should review local and state laws as well as policies from other agencies. Troopers should play an important role in crafting policy. The BWC policy should be reviewed and updated regularly. The policy should clearly address activation compliance, accountability measures, and footage release. A BWC program without a clear and enforced policy is like a ship without a sail.

Mike White
Mike White

Carry Out a Competitive Procurement Process. The working group should start by figuring out DPS’s hardware and software needs, financial/resource constraints, and data storage preferences. These issues are typically set out in a request for proposals (RFP) that is released to BWC vendors. Those vendors will submit bids in response to the agency’s RFP. The BWC working group should then develop a process to select the vendor.

Communicate with and Educate Stakeholders. DPS should develop a plan to publicize the BWC program. An internally focused campaign can educate agency employees about goals, policy decisions, etc. Internal transparency is an excellent way to short-circuit resistance to the BWC program. A similar campaign externally can reduce concerns among citizens, advocacy groups, prosecutors, and the courts.

 Execute Phased Rollout and Implementation. DPS is starting with 150 cameras. This is a good idea. A BWC program is very complex. A phased rollout provides additional flexibility to adjust the program as needed.

Last, DPS should seriously consider applying for a grant from the federal BWC funding program. A federal grant can go a long way in terms of offsetting the costs of a BWC program, and the federal money comes with the full support of our TTA team.

 Michael White is a professor at Arizona State University’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. He is also co-director of the U.S. Department of Justice BWC Training and Technical Assistance Team.


Ducey flush with cash, outraises 3 Democratic opponents

Gov. Doug Ducey (Photo by Katie Campbell/Arizona Capitol Times)
Gov. Doug Ducey (Photo by Katie Campbell/Arizona Capitol Times)

When it comes to campaign fundraising, Gov. Doug Ducey comes out on top in his bid to be re-elected.

Ducey outraised all of his Democratic opponents so far this year and ended the first quarter of 2018 with more than $3 million in cash to spend — nearly 10 times what his leading foe has in the bank.

Although Sen. Steve Farley of Tucson has outraised his primary opponents David Garcia and Kelly Fryer, Ducey has outraised the leading Democrat, raking in $3.3 million total — more than four times the $778,000 Farley has raised during his campaign.

Ducey raised about $550,000 during the first few months of the year, according to campaign finance reports released this week. Farley raised just over a $250,000 and Garcia raised just under $250,000 during the same period.

Ducey raised nearly $20,000 from PACs last quarter. His campaign accepted contributions from Intel Corp., Genentech, Verizon, BNSF Railway Company and the state’s Hospital and Healthcare Association.

His campaign returned a $5,100 contribution from ride-sharing company Lyft. Ducey’s campaign initially accepted the contribution thinking it was from a PAC, but returned the contribution upon realizing the money was a corporate contribution, which the campaign could not accept, said Ducey campaign manager J.P. Twist.

Many of the contributions to Ducey’s campaign are shared with the Arizona Republican Party through the Ducey Victory Fund Committee — a joint fundraising committee.

Farley’s fundraising relied heavily on individual contributions. He also took in $1,000 in PAC money from the Arizona Dental Association and Realtors of Arizona. He ended the quarter with $309,009 on hand.

Garcia’s campaign accepted $17,402 in PAC money and in-kind contributions last quarter, including a $5,000 contribution from Planned Parenthood and a $10,000 contribution from Arizona’s Communications Workers of America PAC.

Garcia closed the quarter with $184,925.

In her first campaign finance report since jumping into the governor’s race, Fryer reported raising $109,357. She spent half that during the first months of her campaign.

The Cook Political Report has labeled Arizona’s gubernatorial race as “likely Republican,” an added sign that Ducey may cruise to re-election.

In other statewide races, Republican secretary of state candidate Steve Gaynor reached into his deep pockets to self-fund his campaign, overtaking incumbent Michele Reagan. Gaynor is sitting on $557,178, while Reagan has $451,705 on hand. Democrat Sen. Katie Hobbs raised over $115,000 — nearly $40,000 more than Reagan raised last quarter. Democrat Mark Gordon reported raising nearly $53,000 last quarter, adding up to nearly $111,000 raised for the campaign cycle.

In the state treasurer’s race, the two Republican contenders had meager first quarters in the fundraising department. Sen. Kimberly Yee led with just $17,000 raised, while Corporation Commissioner Tom Forese raised only $1,000. But despite the paltry fundraising numbers, both have substantial war chests, with Forese sitting on $620,000 and Yee reporting $589,000 on hand. Forese dropped out of the race April 19. The two Democratic candidates, Rep. Mark Cardenas and Mark Manoil, are running with Clean Elections funding.

January Contreras outraised Attorney General Mark Brnovich last quarter, but Brnovich has nearly three times the cash on hand of his presumptive Democratic opponent. Contreras raised $124,000 in the first quarter of 2018. Brnovich raised $112,000 last quarter, and ended the quarter with $453,000 on hand, compared to $162,000 for Contreras.

Ducey gets proposed ban on private funds for elections

In this Oct. 23, 2019, file photo, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)
In this Oct. 23, 2019, file photo, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

Republican legislators voted April 7 to block counties from applying for private grants to make up for shortfalls in what they say they need to properly run elections. 

The 16-14 party-line vote by the Senate for HB2569 came as GOP lawmakers said that the more than $6 million in grants that nine counties got from Center for Tech and Civic Life in 2020 was really just a thinly disguised effort by billionaire Mark Zuckerberg to turn out more Democrats. The center gave out about $400 million to about 2,500 jurisdictions nationally, with reports by the organization showing the lion’s share came from Facebook founder Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan. 

Sen. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu City, complained that the cash that ended up in Arizona went to “key swing” counties, notably the Phoenix and Tucson areas. 

“This was targeted in a way to really undermine the integrity of the system under the guise of trying to promote and get out the vote logistics,” Borrelli he said. 

But the record shows otherwise. While the two largest counties got the largest allocations, seven others also got financial help, including Graham, La Paz, Yuma, and Pinal counties where registered Republicans outnumber Democrats. 

And Sen. Christine Marsh, D-Phoenix, pointed out that this wasn’t unrestricted cash dropped on county election officials but that, in each case, they had to apply and spell out how they would use the money. 

That money, said Sen. Martin Quezada, D-Glendale, went for particular needs this year due to the Covid pandemic, like additional drop boxes, cleaning supplies, rent for polling places, temporary staff and personal protective equipment. 

“Those are basic necessities when you are administering elections,” he said. 

“There is zero evidence whatsoever that this money was used in any partisan manner,” Quezada continued. “It wasn’t just helping Democrat voters, it was helping Republican voters, it was helping independent voters.” 

But Sen. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, said the money received was above the adopted budgets for county recorders and was not needed to fill in gaps. 

“But beyond that, if this grant was coming from China or if this grant was coming from Russia, we might be calling it Russian interference with our elections,” she said. 

“So what is the difference between international money coming from a state overseas to an individual interested party, regardless of how it was spent and how desperately it was needed?” Townsend said. “It’s inappropriate.” 

That, however, still leaves the question of whether the counties had the money they needed. 

Sen. Jamescita Peshlakai, D-Cameron, said she has worked in a county elections office. 

“There are struggles of logistics and so many unknowns,” she said, even in the best of circumstances. 

In the 2020 election, Peshlakai said, the extra grant dollars went into brochures and public announcements in rural Arizona. 

More to the point, she said there were measures to keep people from getting ill from Covid during the election. 

“They put out tents, they put out water, hand washing stations, sanitizer,” Peshlakai said. “And in many places they even put up porta-potties because the remote locations they vote in places are where people don’t have facilities, running water.” 

Sen. J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, said it is “irrelevant” whether counties had enough money to run the 2020 election. He said the issue is the precedent being set. 

“This is about the future and whether or not in the future we’re going to allow big businesses to have a new tool in their arsenal for how they influence our elections,” Mesnard said. And he called it “alarming” that those who want more money for elections to say that it doesn’t matter what is the source. 

“If we don’t put a stop to this, if this becomes a trend, you’re going to see all kinds of very wealthy people engaging in this covert, behind-the-scenes” activity. 

Peshlakai, however, said if lawmakers are concerned about the influence of money, they should do more to curb the influence of cash to sway election results. Some of that, she said, is the result of the 2010 Citizens United case when the U.S. Supreme Court concluded that corporations had the same rights as individuals to donate to affect the outcome of elections. 

Mesnard had a different take on it. 

“This makes ‘dark money’ look like a bright day,” he said, referring to Arizona laws that allow special interest groups to try to elect candidates of their choice without having to disclose their donors. 

And he said the public is on his side. 

“When I talk to folks about, ‘Should we let Mark Zuckerberg start funding our elections,’ I have yet to find a single one who thinks that’s a good idea,” Mesnard said. 

The party-line vote sends the measure, which already has been approved by the House, to the governor. 


Counties that got outside funding for elections: 




La Paz$17,000 

Maricopa$2.9 million 





— Source: Arizona Association of Counties.  

An April 8 story incorrectly listed Yavapai County as one of the nine that received money from the Center for Tech and Civic Life. The story should have read Yuma County. A corrected version appears below.






Ducey seeks federal money for bridge where 3 kids drowned

FILE - This Nov. 30, 2019, file photo shows the road closed near Bar X road and Tonto Creek after a vehicle was washed by flood waters in Tonto Basin, Ariz. (Patrick Breen/The Arizona Republic via AP, File)
This Nov. 30, 2019, file photo shows the road closed near Bar X road and Tonto Creek after a vehicle was washed by flood waters in Tonto Basin, Ariz. Gov. Doug Ducey has asked the federal government for money to build a bridge in the area. (Patrick Breen/The Arizona Republic via AP, File)

Gov. Doug Ducey is asking for federal money from President Trump’s infrastructure grant program to build a bridge over Tonto Creek in Gila County where three children died last year in flooding. 

Two state lawmakers who have bills earmarking money to build the bridge appreciate the gesture but worry the federal government will take too long to follow through or won’t follow through at all.

In a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chano on January 8, Ducey said the bridge would increase safety, quality of life and economic opportunity for the area. 

Since 1995, eight people have died crossing the flooded creek, including three children November 29, whose family drove past signs warning them not to cross.

Ducey’s request comes weeks after being noncommittal about putting state money toward the project that residents have wanted for years. The grant would pay for what Gila County and the state cannot.

County officials recently said they could front $3 million, but two lawmakers, Rep. David Cook, R-Globe, and Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, are asking for more from the county before they move forward with their bills – they’re racing against a federal application process that could take too long or never be approved.

Allen’s bill proposes $15 million in one-time state funding and asking Gila County to kick in $5 million. Cook’s bill calls for $20 million in state funding.

Both lawmakers said they’re grateful the governor asked for federal money and said it was a good gesture, but they don’t trust the feds to come through in time, or at all.

“I mean, it’s great, but I wish he would have written this three or four years ago,” Cook said. 

He said that if the state can quickly assure a commitment from the feds that it should move forward, otherwise, they should pay for what the county can’t through state money. 

Cook said he has spoken with Gila County Supervisor Tim Humphry and asked him and the county to look harder for more money to help pay for the bridge.

“I’m willing to amend my bill to whatever we need,” Cook said. 

He said officials from the Arizona Department of Transportation told him it could review existing blueprints for the project, which could take weeks. Once that happens, Cook wants to run it by private construction companies to see if the bridge can be built for $20 million or less and then introduce his bill in a House committee.

Ideally, Cook said, he wants this done before seasonal rains and the next school year. 

Allen said the state can’t keep waiting on the feds, especially since the last three grant requests have been rejected. 

“However, if we were able to get funding quickly that would be great. If not, we need to fund the bridge this budget round,” she said. 

Ducey spokesman Patrick Ptak wouldn’t share Ducey’s thoughts on either bill, only saying that the office “works closely” with legislators often. 

“We are making this request for the federal government today, you’ll see the full details of our budget next week,” Ptak said.

Ducey will outline his spending priorities in his State of the State Address to the opening session of the Legislature on January 13, and on January 17 when he presents his budget in full. 

Ducey won’t commit to more funds for school voucher program


Gov. Doug Ducey won’t commit to providing the funds that schools chief Kathy Hoffman says she needs to properly administer the state’s voucher program.

“I believe that we can do better on Educational Savings Accounts,” Ducey said Wednesday, referring to the vouchers of state funds to send children to private and parochial schools by its formal name.

“We want the families that properly qualify for this benefit to be able to access it so their kids can get the proper education,” the governor said. “We believe that the parent knows better on that.”

Doug Ducey
Doug Ducey

In the meantime, however, there have been a series of complaints by parents who say they cannot get their kids enrolled. Issues range from the inability to get calls answered at the state Department of Education to the processing time for applications taking too long, to the point where approval – if it comes – is too late to use for the school year.

Hoffman has not denied the delays. But she said much of it can be blamed on lack of dollars.

Specifically, Hoffman pointed out that the voucher law entitles her agency to funding equal to 4 percent of the amount administered. That would come to $3.6 million.

Instead, the budget that was approved by lawmakers provided just $1.3 million.

The governor told Capitol Media Services he was aware of the issue.

“I know that there are resources necessary,” he said, promising to “work closely with the superintendent so we can fix this issue.”

But the governor dodged a question about how Hoffman – and even predecessor Republican Diane Douglas – said the agency needs the full $3.6 million to do the job properly and yet the budget he signed for the current year provided just a fraction of that.

“We’re going to review the budget request in proper order,” he said.

Stefan Swiat, spokesman for the Department of Education, stressed this isn’t a one-time thing or a new issue.

Swiat, who worked for Douglas, said she, too, requested but did not get the dollars she said are necessary. In fact, Swiat said, while the law provides for funding at 4 percent, it has never been higher than 2 percent.

He said Douglas did not go quietly, writing to the governor, the Legislature and the Auditor General’s Office that she did not understand why the department never got the full spending authority if this is a “pet project.”

The sometimes-controversial program provides tax dollars to parents who meet certain conditions to send their children to private and parochial schools. Cash also can be used for certain educational expenses for home-schooled students.

In this Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018 photo, Kathy Hoffman, a public school speech therapist, is a Democratic candidate running for superintendent of public education, in Phoenix. Hoffman is running against three-term California congressman Frank Riggs, the founding president of an online charter school. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Kathy Hoffman (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Originally promoted to help children with special needs, it has been expanded year after year to where it also covers foster children, children of the military, children who live on reservations and children attending schools rated D or F.

With statutory caps on enrollment, there are about 6,500 youngsters currently getting funding, which ranges from $5,400 a year for basic aid to more than $30,000 for students with special needs.

Swiat acknowledged the complaints from parents who want to put their children into the program but say they can’t get the information they need or their applications processed quickly enough.

He said, though, that’s because the agency’s employees dedicated to the program – there are just 12 now – have instead been focused on auditing the expenditures of parents whose children already get vouchers to be sure that they are not misspending the dollars. And Swiat said there’s a good reason for that.

“That’s what the Auditor General asked us to do last year,” he said, referring to a report which found that parents had made fraudulent purchases and misspent more than $700,000 in public funds. “We’re following the direction of our bosses.”

And that, he said, is why the need for more dollars.

He said Hoffman’s budget request for the coming fiscal year includes hiring an additional 20 staffers “and have justified that ask based on call volume.”

“We keep adding to the program,” Swiat said, with an anticipated 7,000 youngsters expected to get vouchers next budget year. “That means more reporting and funding has stayed flat the last few years.”

Swiat said that Hoffman has not had direct conversations with Ducey about the funding need but that “our offices talk.”

It is the budget plan that Ducey will roll out in January that becomes the starting point for negotiations. But Hoffman also will need to convince the lawmakers who have to vote on the package before sending it back to the governor.

Earlier this month members of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee voted to seek a review of where the money is going now.

That report is due in April. And some committee members said their views on requests for additional dollars could depend on whether the audit shows that the existing dollars are being spent properly and efficiently.

Swiat said he’s not sure how much more Hoffman can do to promote the funding, saying that she actually has higher priorities, starting with the amount of dollars the state provides on a per-student basis and teacher salaries.

“Per pupil funding is among the lowest in the nation,” he said. And Swiat said it is a question of Hoffman putting her attention in getting funding where it will do the most for the most children.

Correction: A previous version of this story erroneously reported there are 5,500 children in the ESA program. The actual number is 6,500. 

Education inequality has impact on public health


As we recently passed the one-year anniversary of Arizona teachers walking out and demanding action from their policymakers, it is clear that to address education inequality we must continue to advocate for improved education funding in Arizona.

Since this issue is consistently wrapped in politics, we find it important to view it from a different perspective: what is the public health implication of education inequality and how is the way we treat our teachers interconnected? Facts are nice, so let’s include those, particularly regarding large class sizes, classroom funding, and shortage of teachers and how these relate to education inequality.

According to the Arizona K12 Center, the average classroom size for an Arizona teacher is 23.5 students per high school teacher and 24.5 students per elementary teacher. This is far higher than the national average of 17.7 per high school teacher and 21.6 per elementary teacher.

Large class sizes jeopardize learning and negatively affect the teacher’s ability to be productive and successful. Numerous studies show that when class sizes are smaller (19 students and less), students report learning more, enjoying school more, and being more engaged.

When so much pressure is put on students, teachers, and schools to produce positive test results, starting with the right class size matters. And so does wanting to attend school – if students don’t like their learning environment, or cannot connect to it, then they are less likely to complete school. If teachers are too stressed with crowd control, they are less likely to remain in their jobs. Education inequality begins with access to high quality learning experiences.

Classroom funding – or lack of – played a large role in the Arizona teachers’ strike. More than just basic raises (if you consider getting a pay bump up to $40,000 a “raise”), classroom funding ensures school supplies for students, updated technology, and again, a positive learning environment for both student and teacher.

Arizona spends approximately $7,500 per student each year, placing 49th position on funding per student in the United States. A recent study by the Department of Education suggests that approximately 94 percent of teachers spend their own money on school supplies to make up for this lack of funding, equating to approximately $479 per teacher per year.

Teachers are hard pressed to support themselves, in addition to providing for their classrooms. The average Arizona teacher makes around $48,000 a year, while the average starting teacher salary in Arizona is closer to $34,000 per year. Arizona ranks in the bottom 10 when it comes to starting teacher salaries across the United States, which can deter future teachers from coming to or remaining in Arizona to begin their careers. Teachers have consistently provided for students in need. Now, who can provide for teachers in need?

These reasons, and many more, have led to the Arizona teacher shortage. Alarmingly, according to the Arizona School Personnel Administrators Association survey, 23 percent of teacher vacancies remained unfilled in 2018. This only perpetuates the cycle: shortage of teachers begets larger class sizes, begets less capital to support classroom (particularly out of teachers own pockets), begets longer hours worked, and so on and so forth. Inequality is always rooted in poverty. Education inequality is no different – it is rooted in poverty of social capital, political support, and money. And it is reflected in the way we treat our teachers.

Instead of formulating bills to gag teachers and prevent them from labor actions, as were proposed in the current legislative session, we should understand the many negative implications that result from burdening teachers and the learning environment. Education inequality is indeed a public health concern. Over one million students attend public schools in Arizona and these students are our future leaders. By not supporting their teachers, we as a society are setting those students up for failure. This is not about being money hungry, it’s about fairly paying teachers for the hard work they do to benefit our society; it’s about attempting to decrease education inequality. For this reason, we believe increasing teacher wages and education funding is incredibly important. In the words of Malcolm X, “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today,” our teachers are the key to students accomplishing this.

Jordan Arias, Lisa Balland, Jonathan Bell, Adam Berryhill, Wrandi Carter, and Emma Connors are graduate students at University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.

House leaders offer teacher pay raise plan

Republican House leadership is backing a plan to give teachers a 6-percent pay bump next year at the expense of Gov. Doug Ducey’s proposal to restore cuts to K-12 school capital funding.

Buffeted by protesting teachers, who have threatened to strike if the Legislature doesn’t provide a sizable increase in funding for Arizona public schools to bankroll salary hikes, Republican lawmakers see the proposal as a means of changing the narrative that state legislators have failed to provide teachers a decent wage.

The plan boasts of a cumulative 24-percent pay raise for teachers over six years. To do so, the Legislature would renege on a pledge made by Ducey to restore cuts made to public school monies used for capital expenses, like new school buses, textbooks and facility maintenance.

House Speaker J.D. Mesnard (R-Chandler)
House Speaker J.D. Mesnard (R-Chandler)

Legislators would bypass the decision makers in school districts to ensure that all available dollars go to teacher pay, House Speaker J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, said on KAET-TV’s Arizona Horizon Wednesday evening.

“That was one of the reasons we put out a proposal yesterday that essentially did just that,” Mesnard said. “It took money where it was going to go in a pot where they could pretty much do what they want with it… and instead put hundreds of millions of dollars into something called the classroom site fund, which is dedicated to teacher pay.”

Mesnard said the proposal addresses the gripes of protesting teachers, who have asked for an immediate 20-percent raise.

“We don’t set teacher pay. That’s a district decision. We’re in the resource business,” he said.

The proposal from GOP leaders misses the point protesters are trying to make, said Dana Naimark, president of Arizona Children’s Action Alliance. There isn’t enough funding available to address all the needs schools have, be it salaries, broken air conditioning systems or old textbooks.

“To try to dangle that in front of teachers saying we’re promising you a 24 percent pay raise I think is pretty disingenuous,” she said. “They’re just moving the shells around the table. The point is, we need more revenues to invest in schools.”

Flanked by local school officials, Ducey in January announced the budget proposal to immediately put $100 million for the coming school year back towards “district additional assistance,” and to continue to increase those funds over the next five years.

The offer came as a coalition of school groups and educators have sued the state for failing to meet constitutional obligations for capital needs. Ducey’s plan convinced some to back away from the lawsuit.

The proposal from GOP leaders takes that $100 million away in the upcoming school year and places it in a fund designated almost exclusively for teacher salaries.

Sen. Warren Petersen, R-Gilbert, said the plan is popular among some legislative Republicans.

“There’s a narrative right now that the legislature dictates teacher salaries and how much money goes to teacher salaries. And you’re hearing people say that it is the legislature that does that. That is not the case,” he said.

But if that’s what people want to believe, Petersen said, “then maybe it is time for the legislature to do what people think is already the case and dictate salaries.”

Over the next five years, state budget analysts project the proposal would divert nearly $400 million from capital funds, as proposed by Ducey, to the classroom site fund, which primarily is used for teacher pay raises and merit pay increases.

That would kick start in 2018 with a $107 million appropriation to the fund, including the $100 million in capital funding Ducey proposed and another $7 million for schools that don’t receive state aid.

The GOP-led plan also accounts for the second year of a 2 percent pay raise, a two-year plan approved by the Legislature in 2017, and basic inflationary increases to K-12 funding — dollars that are controlled by law through funding formulas. But the plan assumes that, going forward, 48 percent of those inflationary budget increases would be used for teacher salaries.

Their proposal also accounts for a recent change to Proposition 301, the six-tenths of a cent sales tax extension approved by the Legislature weeks ago. That change would add another $64 million to the teacher pay, but not until 2021.

All told, budget analysts estimate the plan would boost teacher pay by $829.2 million by 2022, a 24 percent cumulative increase.

The proposal would still leave K-12 school districts with a $400 million budget hole for capital expenses in five years, said Chuck Essigs, a lobbyist for the Arizona Association of School Business Officials.

And it could threaten the governor’s efforts to settle a capital funding lawsuit.

“(Ducey) met with school districts, had a big press conference where all these superintendents from school districts stood behind him, and he said, ‘I’m restoring those cuts,’” Essigs said. “Obviously this is a slap in the face to him, because they’re taking what he had developed as a plan and got consensus and got agreement for and just throwing it out the window.”

Lack of federal funding leaves proposed state veterans homes in limbo

The Arizona State Veterans Home in Phoenix, near Indian School Road and Third Street, is a 200-bed nursing care facility.
The Arizona State Veterans Home in Phoenix, near Indian School Road and Third Street, is a 200-bed nursing care facility.

In 2015, the state budget included $9.2 million for a new veterans state home in Yuma.

In 2017, $10 million was designated to build a state home in Flagstaff.

However, construction is stalled on both projects because this state funding makes up only 35 percent of total costs. The rest of the tab must be picked up by the U.S. Department for Veterans Affairs and the federal funding has proven difficult to secure.

Now, the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services has asked for $13 million more in their proposed 2018 budget for funding of another veterans state home in Mohave County. There are more than 25,000 veterans in Mohave County, according to 2015 census data. Almost two thirds of these veterans are over 65.

The three homes together represent a 228-bed increase in Arizona’s veterans state home capacity, which is currently at 320 beds. Still that’s only a portion of Arizona’s 1,200-bed deficiency, identified by the VA.

The Flagstaff and Yuma homes have applied to the VA for federal funding and been placed on a national ranking list of proposed projects. However, there typically isn’t enough money to fund everything on the list. In past years, Arizona projects have ranked in the 40s or 50s. Often only the top 10 or 15 get funded.

Wanda Wright, director of the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services, says the department proposed more new construction because there is a significant need, however she can’t predict when federal funding will come through. She is hoping a potential change in how veterans home projects are ranked nationally could move the needle for Arizona’s proposed homes. The longer they wait, the more inflation and increases in prices will devalue the state money they already have.

“We are kind of at the whim of the VA in their priorities, in how they decide that they want to construct these homes,” said Wright.

Veterans state homes are similar to nursing homes, with one big difference – the majority of the patients are veterans. In addition, there is funding for care available to those who qualify.

Jamie Flatbush, Army veteran and military liaison at the Military Assistance Mission nonprofit, has made many visits to the Phoenix veterans home and spoke highly of the facilities. He says the experience of combat binds people together more than any other factor.

“Me as a vet, I would rather be in that environment with people I have in common,” said Flatbush. “There’s just some things you can’t share, that I can’t explain. The smell, the sounds, the feelings, the crunch of grass walking around on the field in Korea.”

While Flatbush said he has observed high quality care in veterans state homes, flaws have been exposed in Arizona veterans care over the past couple of years. Across the country, the VA health care system has come under scrutiny for long wait times and poor treatment.

The Phoenix veterans home is one of only two currently operating in Arizona. Wright worries that veterans from other parts of the state don’t have access to this care without moving far from home.

Flagstaff Mayor Coral Evans has similar concerns. According to the 2015 census data, there are about 8,000 veterans living in Coconino County and more than 3,000 of these veterans are over 65.

Evans started the process of applying for a veterans home as a City Council member when she heard the story of one Flagstaff veteran who checked into Phoenix’s state veterans home for care. He was left alone because the family was not able to make the trip down to see him.

“No veteran should have to die alone because the family doesn’t have the money, or doesn’t have the means to go visit them,” said Evans. “The fact that we do not have a veterans home in northern Arizona, to me is an embarrassment”

The first step toward building a home in Flagstaff was to secure land, which has now been donated by the city. There is a clause however – if the home is not built by 2021 the lease says the land donation could be revoked.

Once there was a place to put the home, the city secured state funding. Applications to the federal VA that don’t already have state funding are rarely successful, according to Wright. Together, these two steps took almost five years.

Evans comes from a military family, but she says this isn’t just a military issue. It isn’t a political issue. It’s about quality of life for the people who have served for this country.

“Truly a community is measured on how you take care of those who take care of you,” Evans said. “Our city, our state reflects poorly that we don’t have the necessary facilities for our veterans.”

Whether the Flagstaff home Evans says is desperately needed is ever built is up to the federal VA. The current ranking system puts repairs and updates to existing homes at the top of the priorities list, followed by new construction in states with a 1,500 to 2,000 bed deficiency.

Evans says this gives an advantage to more populated areas. Rural places, such as northern Arizona, have trouble moving up the list. This year a change in the ranking system could have positive impacts on Arizona’s projects. The change is meant to help rural locations have a fighting chance, but the exact provisions have not been released. The regulation is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

Lawmaker urges schools chief to tap relief funds


The head of the House Education Committee wants the Department of Education to turn loose $85 million to help forestall anticipated teacher layoffs. 

Rep. Michelle Udall, R-Mesa, noted that several districts have announced they will need to let some teachers go ahead of the 2021-2022 school year for fear that they won’t have the state aid to pay their salaries. 

That’s because aid is directly linked to the number of students enrolled. And the most recent figures show that more than 55,000 children have disappeared from district schools this year, about 5% of total enrollment, a figure that translates out to hundreds of millions of dollars a year. 

On paper, schools get state aid based on the number of students enrolled. And, theoretically that means if the students come back, the state funds will flow. 

Only thing is, Udall said, districts have to make decisions now whether to offer contracts for the coming school year. 

“The problem is, if you fire those teachers and the kids do come back,you’ve suddenly got overcrowded classrooms,” she told Capitol Media Services. 

And Udall said it may be impossible for schools that were hardest hit by declines to rehire those same teachers: Given the teacher shortage statewide, they may by that point have found gainful employment elsewhere. 

What that leaves, she said, is schools hiring long-term substitutes who are not certified as regular teachers. 

In a letter Udall sent Monday to state schools chief Kathy Hoffman, she said the education department is “for some reason holding onto nearly $85 million of discretionary money” from its initial $1.5 billion allocation of federal Covid relief dollars. 

“That should be put to use to help stabilize Arizona schools so they don’t have to make premature reductions in staffing when many of those students may be returning in the coming school year,” Udall told Hoffman. And she questioned the agency’s need for $7 million to administer that $1.5 billion allotment — the maximum allowed — when there are other more pressing needs. 

Udall said she expects at least part of the fund problem to be resolved when lawmakers adopt the state budget. 

Some of that, she said, will be plans eliminating that differential between what schools get for teaching students in person versus those who are learning online. The state funds the latter at just 95% despite indications of additional costs for such programs. 

But Udall said there’s a bigger problem. She said some districts that were doing the best to maintain an in-person option for their students are the ones who she believes ended up getting financially shorted. 

She used the example of Tucson Unified School District, which she said got around $7,000 per child in federal Covid-relief dollars, which were doled out largely along the lines of which districts have the most Title 1 schools. Those are schools where a high percent of youngsters live in poverty. 

And, Udall said, TUSD did remote learning most of the year. 

By contrast, she said, Vail got about $180 per youngster while Gilbert schools got about $300. 

So you have this huge discrepancy and you have districts like Vail and Gilbert who have really worked to have in-person teaching through as much of the time as possible,” Udall said. 

“That’s really expensive because they’re doing the in-person teaching but they’re also doing the online at the same time,” she continued. “So they have two modes of teaching going on at the same time, they’ve got extra expenses from the technology but then also extra expenses from the cleaning, from substitutes, from the personal protective equipment.” 

Yet they’re the ones getting the least aid. 

So what Udall wants, at least for the short term, is that money sitting at the Department of Education. And she said it can be divided up so that all districts are guaranteed a minimum per-pupil aid. 

In a response to Udall, Hoffman acknowledged the need “to provide schools with budget stability and avoid unnecessary layoffs.” And the schools chief said money from discretionary funds already is being distributed, though Udall told Capitol Media Services that “there’s still a lot left.” 

But Hoffman said some of the blame for what schools are now facing financially can be traced directly to Gov. Doug Ducey. 

He promised last year that schools would have at least 98% of the state aid they were getting in the prior year, regardless of attendance. 

Only thing is, Ducey provided just $370 million for that based on federal dollars he got. Hoffman said the actual cost of missing students was close to $620 million. 

“When the subsequent shortfalls became apparent in November, the governor’s office pointed to the legislature’s need to solve this problem,” Hoffman wrote. 

The need to guarantee schools will have money next academic year is based on a presumption that the students who disappeared this year will return. 

Udall said one big reason for the drop was that many parents of the youngest children, seeing what was happening with the virus, simply decided to keep them home an extra year. 

That is borne out by figures from the Department of Education: Of the more than 55,700 decline in children in public schools last year, close to 30% was in preschool and kindergarten programs. 

Of the others, Arizona Education Association President Joe Thomas said he expects them to return. 

Part of it, he said, is as parents have to return to work they want their children in a safe place. 

“They know where that is,” he said. And then there’s what the kids themselves want. 

“I think students want to be in that school community,” he said, where there are their friends, the sports and the activities. 

And there’s something else at play. 

Chris Kotterman, lobbyist for the Arizona School Boards Association, said some districts lost more students than others because of geography. 

“Gilbert is prime charter school country,” he said, giving parents who wanted their children in the classroom more options. But he, too, expects that trend to reverse as traditional schools return to in-person instruction. 

Beyond that, Kotterman said charter schools just don’t have the capacity to handle that many students on a long-term basis. 


Pandemic magnifies importance of accurate census count


When the Maricopa Association of Governments and its 27-member jurisdictions began planning for the 2020 Census more than 18 months ago, we knew focusing on how census data impacts federal funding for local communities would be central to encouraging participation. We never could have envisioned that the 2020 Census would occur at the same time as an unimaginable public health and economic crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted our outreach plans, but also simultaneously magnified the importance of getting an accurate count since population numbers are used to calculate the distribution of billions of federal dollars to respond to and recover from this national crisis.

Data from the 2010 Census was fundamental in the calculations used to distribute dollars to local governments as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, to help lessen the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Local governments are putting these funds to work in many ways across the Maricopa County region by supporting health care services, public safety measures, and much-needed economic relief for residents and businesses.

Population data and demographic information supplied by the census is also key in the distribution of billions of federal dollars to support education. These funds will help our schools prepare for the challenge of educating our students safely and effectively in the upcoming school year.

While the disruptions caused by COVID-19 have far reaching impacts in every city, county, and state government, the focus on the 2020 Census has been unwavering because we understand there is too much at stake. What we do now in the 2020 Census will have a long-lasting impact on resources for continued recovery and on federal funding over the next decade. This is why our members began quickly innovating with ways to keep the 2020 Census relevant in their communities when daily routines were thoroughly disrupted.

Jerry Weiers
Jerry Weiers

Thankfully, iCount2020 — MAG’s 2020 Census public awareness campaign — was prepared for ‘contactless’ outreach and education. The campaign’s text messages and personal emails connect with people one-on-one in either English or Spanish.

Social media is an even more active online community and www.iCount2020.info capitalizes by providing a one-stop for 2020 Census information. The campaign, which was produced locally by MAG featuring real stories of a diverse group of people from across the Maricopa region, remains prominent on television, online and on radio in English and Spanish. And individual jurisdictions throughout the region continue to amplify these messages through their own websites, social media accounts, utility bills, newsletters, contests, and collaboration with nonprofit and faith-based partners.

The first-ever ability to complete the census online was critical as people began spending more time at home and online. Filling out the form safely and securely from home became a vitally relevant message. It has truly never been easier to respond to the census on your own without interacting with a census taker, however, the Census Bureau will start in-person follow up for households that haven’t yet responded.

During these uncertain times, we know that one sure way to help your community is to fill out the 2020 Census. Now more than ever, it is crucial that every person is counted in the census as they represent approximately $3,000 in funding annually for vital community programs including education, public safety, health care, housing, senior services, transportation and more.

Make no mistake, losing sight of the 2020 Census means losing sight of the future. Ten years ago, we could not have envisioned that the accuracy of our 2010 Census count would impact the resources that our communities and state would receive to combat and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Now each of us has the chance to ensure our community gets the resources we need to come out of this stronger and better prepared to address future challenges.

Go online now to iCount2020.info or call 1-844-330-2020 to fill out your census form. Learn more at www.icount2020.info or connect with us using @icount2020official on Instagram and Facebook, or @icount2020 on Twitter.

Jerry P. Weiers is mayor of Glendale and the chair of the Maricopa Association of Governments, which represents 27 cities and towns, Native nations, Maricopa County and portions of Pinal County. 




Schools cover tab for lawmakers’ failure to fund special education

First grade teacher Irene Hammerquist explains a fall-themed class project to students at Bales Elementary School. Some of her students have special needs, so she has learned to approach learning in a variety of ways, like using crafts to help them learn spelling words. (Photo by Katie Campbell/Arizona Capitol Times)
First grade teacher Irene Hammerquist explains a fall-themed class project to students at Bales Elementary School. Some of her students have special needs, so she has learned to approach learning in a variety of ways, like using crafts to help them learn spelling words. (Photo by Katie Campbell/Arizona Capitol Times)

Arizona lawmakers have not adjusted the additional dollars allocated for students with special needs in at least a decade, and public schools have been left to make up the difference.

District and charter schools are federally mandated to provide services to those students, and a lack of funding does not excuse them from that obligation.

The money has to come from somewhere.

“You take it out of somebody else’s program,” said Chuck Essigs, who was involved in legislation that led to the education funding formula created in 1980.

Essigs, director of government relations for the Arizona Association of School Business Officials, said the formula met the needs of schools at the time. Today, it does not.

The current formula predates charter schools and mandated open enrollment.

Most kids went to their neighborhood schools then, and the assumption was that students with disabilities would be evenly distributed among the districts.

But that assumption is no longer valid.

The gap

Essigs said more widespread school choice has complicated the equation – he’s not alone in saying so – yet nothing has been done at the Legislature in response.

Districts with at least 1,000 students receive funding for each pupil under either Group A or Group B weights.

Group A funding is designed to support programs for the gifted as well as kids with specific learning disabilities, speech impairments and emotional disabilities, among others.

But it applies to all students.

In the 2016-2017 school year, base level funding for an elementary school student was about $3,600 and about $4,200 per high school student. Group A weights bumped those totals up to about $4,200 and $4,600 respectively.

Districts receive Group A funding per student with no consideration as to the number of students who actually require services.

Chuck Essigs
Chuck Essigs

In 1980, Essigs said, the rationale was to deter districts from over-identifying students in need of services just to pick up extra cash.

“If I were involved in putting a formula together today and I came up with that same recommendation, I’d get laughed out of the state,” he said.

And that’s because the 12 percent of Arizona students who have special needs are no longer evenly distributed among public schools while the funding continues to be allocated as if they were.

Two schools each with 1,000 Group A students receive the same amount of funding even if one school has a higher need for special education services than the other. That leaves the latter school with additional funding that can be put toward other costs while the former is left with a deficit.

Contrast that with Group B funding, which follows a specific student directly.

For students identified under Group B, the weights are more significant to account for the additional costs to schools to provide robust services. Students in this group may have visual or hearing impairments, autism or multiple disabilities.

And each has its own weight according to state law.

For example, in the 2016-2017 school year, an elementary school student with a visual impairment would have received 4.8 times the base level funding, or about $17,000.

Essigs said all students with special needs, including those receiving services under Group A, should be funded along these lines.

“When you have some of those students, you get the extra funding to cover the extra cost,” he said. “If you don’t have any, you don’t get any additional money because you don’t have the cost.

“The world is different today because of choice, and we ought to recognize that.”

But Group B funding is not perfect either.

In 2015, Gov. Doug Ducey created the Classrooms First Initiative Council to investigate and propose funding formula reforms.

The members unveiled their 12 recommendations in December, including a cost study on special education.

Such a study has not been conducted since 2007, and even then, funding weights were not updated to accommodate for the rising costs of services as they had been in the past.

Jim Swanson, co-chair of a panel looking at school funding, details some of the preliminary findings Tuesday of a plan to redivide how state dollars are divided up. (Capitol Media Services photo by Howard Fischer)
Jim Swanson (Capitol Media Services photo by Howard Fischer)

Jim Swanson, a businessman who Ducey chose to lead the council, said the gap between what schools have received and what they have spent on services has been in the hundreds of millions just since 2007. The federal government is also supposed to be chipping in for about 40 percent of the cost, he said, but is only contributing about half that.

Here’s the thing: Students with special needs likely aren’t the ones feeling the impact of this gap, Swanson said. Their parents are often well-educated about their rights, and they have scores of advocates and legal experts on their side.

Meanwhile, the dollars are coming out of the rest of the system, he said, and the solution may simply lie in adjusting Group B weights.

“If you can solve that,” Swanson said, “you can solve other problems more easily.”

The choice

Essigs said the funding gap has been allowed to persist but the issue never seems able to rise to the top of lawmakers’ priorities.

“I don’t know how anyone can defend a formula that doesn’t recognize reality,” he said. “And the reality is that we have special education programs that cost different amounts of money based upon the students they’re serving. Their funding ought to be a reflection of that.”

He does not put the burden of defending the formula solely on Ducey’s shoulders. But where exactly this falls on the so-called education governor’s to-do list remains unclear.

Ducey spokesman Patrick Ptak said he could not speak for what was prioritized before the governor was in office, but Ducey has focused instead on “increasing funds for education as a whole.”

He said Ducey’s office has moved forward with other recommendations from the council, including those regarding teacher pay and early literacy. As for the recommendation to assess special education costs, he said the idea was brought to the Legislature but failed to gain traction.

Swanson said the governor has done a good job of laying out an agenda and sticking to it, but more needs to be done to find additional dollars and put them into education.

And the approaching expiration of Proposition 301 makes that point all the more urgent. The voter-approved 0.6-percent sales tax will end in 2021 without action to extend or expand it, which would again require support from voters.

Swanson, along with other business leaders, has advocated for expanding the sales tax to better fund public schools.

It’s an idea not likely to earn praise from Ducey, and Swanson himself said it’s “probably not the best way to do it.”

But given the current political climate, he said it’s probably the most realistic solution, one that may have to be pursued through an initiative rather than relying on the Legislature.

“This is one of the significant funding problems that we have in our state,” he said of the gap. “If the state met its responsibility to fund these issues, it would alleviate other funding problems that we’re having in education. I know it’s a big number, but the dollars are getting spent one way or another.”

The difference

Irene Hammerquist and her first graders welcome a new student to their class at Bales Elementary School. Hammerquist said it takes time to learn how best to reach any child whether they have special needs or not. (Photo by Katie Campbell/Arizona Capitol Times)
Irene Hammerquist and her first graders welcome a new student to their class at Bales Elementary School. Hammerquist said it takes time to learn how best to reach any child whether they have special needs or not. (Photo by Katie Campbell/Arizona Capitol Times)

In the meantime, parents and educators like Irene Hammerquist are doing what they can to make up the difference in their own way.

Hammerquist worked as a paraprofessional in special education classrooms for a decade before becoming a teacher five years ago. She currently works with an exuberant bunch of first graders at Bales Elementary School in Buckeye, some of whom have special needs.

And while making the necessary modifications to meet their needs is challenging, she said watching them make progress can also be especially gratifying.

“When they get it, there’s nothing more rewarding than seeing the lightbulb go off,” she said. “That moment of understanding. Some of them just need to be taught in a different way. Maybe, as a teacher, it means explaining it three or four different ways.”

And as a parent, it means making the extra effort at home.

Hammerquist has two children with special needs: a son who has been diagnosed as autistic, bipolar and ADHD, and a developmentally delayed daughter also with ADHD.

He has an excellent memory but struggles socially. She can read fluently but cannot comprehend the meaning.

Hammerquist has had students who crawl under their desks to calm down. Others have little jars of beads to occupy them.

Each need is different, she said, and it often comes down to the teacher to meet it.

“Is there a funding issue? Sure. We would all agree on that,” Hammerquist said. “But do we do the best that we can with what we have? Absolutely.”

In an ideal world, educators and schools would be able to meet students’ needs head on every time. Someone in the classroom would be able to sit down with Hammerquist’s daughter one-on-one and show her the story was about a dog not a frog.

But Hammerquist said that’s not a realistic expectation right now – for those with special needs and those without.

Anabel Aportela
Anabel Aportela

Arizona School Boards Association Director of Research Anabel Aportela, said it’s not just a special education issue. Dollars are being taken out of the budget that pays teachers’ salaries and regular instructional expenses.

Music and arts programs are cut. Librarians lose their jobs.

Aportela said there is a limited amount of funding and a hierarchy of students who have access to it, non-special education students being at the bottom of that list.

She is not convinced redistributing weights would solve the problem. Rather she proposed rethinking the base level funding altogether.

But before the state can talk solutions, lawmakers have to acknowledge the problem.

“It’s an expensive proposition, and we try to plug up the holes as we go along,” she said. “But until you accept the fact that this is a big problem and we’re going to have to invest more than we currently are, I’m not sure how far we can get.”


Teachers swarm Capitol, demand 20 percent pay hike

Thousands of teachers, students and public education advocates rallied at the Arizona Capitol on March 28, 2018. (Photo by Katie Campbell/Arizona Capitol Times)
Thousands of teachers, students and public education advocates rallied at the Arizona Capitol on March 28, 2018. (Photo by Katie Campbell/Arizona Capitol Times)

Save Our Schools Arizona is not only gearing up for a possible referendum on whatever lawmakers may replace existing voucher expansion legislation with but also for a potential initiative to address public education funding shortfalls.

SOS Arizona spokeswoman Dawn Penich-Thacker told the Arizona Capitol Times that the anti-voucher group responsible for sending Proposition 305 to the ballot is calling on volunteers to commit now to carrying petitions this summer for a referendum or initiative “or whatever we come up with.”

She said the extension of the education sales tax under Proposition 301 was “fine” but wouldn’t put anything substantial forward. Now, SOS Arizona and its allies are considering a new initiative to meet demands made by Arizona Educators United, a recent addition to the grassroots movement around public school funding and teacher pay.

Public education advocates rally at the Arizona Capitol on March, 28, 2018, to demand higher teacher pay, among other improvements to public school funding. (Photo by Katie Campbell/Arizona Capitol Times)
Public education advocates rally at the Arizona Capitol on March, 28, 2018, to demand higher teacher pay, among other improvements to public school funding. (Photo by Katie Campbell/Arizona Capitol Times)

Arizona Educators United organizer Noah Karvelis laid out those demands Wednesday evening as thousands of teachers, students, public education advocates and elected representatives clad in red gathered at the Capitol. Many carried signs, such as one that read, “I had to borrow money to make this sign,” and wore “I don’t want to strike, but I will” stickers.

Karvelis called for a 20 percent pay hike for teachers, competitive pay for all education employees, a permanent salary structure including annual raises, the restoration per-pupil funding to 2008 levels and no new tax cuts until per pupil funding reaches the national average.

“If you won’t do your job, we will,” Penich-Thacker said, referring to legislators.

On the table are options like additional taxes, closing corporate tax loopholes and a litany of other options, though nothing specific is set in stone; Prop. 305 may still go to the November ballot, after all, if legislators opt not to alter the voucher expansion legislation passed last session.

And what they ultimately choose to do will be based on Gov. Doug Ducey and the Legislature’s response to the demands of educators.

Teacher Susan Suchoki protests at the Arizona Capitol on March 28, 2018. (Photo by Katie Campbell/Arizona Capitol Times)
Teacher Susan Suchoki protests at the Arizona Capitol on March 28, 2018. (Photo by Katie Campbell/Arizona Capitol Times)

Penich-Thacker said the thousands who showed up at the Capitol – some of whom could be seen making the walk from Downtown Phoenix – were a testament to how serious the situation in Arizona is.

“For a lot of legislators, I think this just boils down to numbers on a spreadsheet or pages in the budget, but this shows that people feel this in their day to day lives,” she said.

Susan Suchoki has been teaching for decades, but she said she’ll still have student loans to pay off when she retires.

And she wondered if Ducey was really paying attention to her and her colleagues.

“I don’t know. Maybe he doesn’t know how to read,” she said.” Maybe his teacher was underpaid and in a bad mood that day.”

Rep. Doug Coleman, R-Apache Junction, was wandering among the sea of red protesters, listening to his peers in the education community.

Rep. Doug Coleman, R-Apache Junction, smiles as thousands of public education advocates circling the Capitol courtyard on March 28, 2018. (Photo by Katie Campbell/Arizona Capitol Times)
Rep. Doug Coleman, R-Apache Junction, smiles as thousands of public education advocates circling the Capitol courtyard on March 28, 2018. (Photo by Katie Campbell/Arizona Capitol Times)

Coleman played a central role in seeing that Prop. 301 was extended just last week, though he says Ducey did not get enough credit for his part in it.

That was a necessary first step, Coleman said, but he hoped there would be more to come.

“I teach in a small district that’s really struggling to stay afloat, to keep our teachers,” he said as he watched protesters circle the Capitol courtyard. “It’s a little bit personal with me. I’ve been there. I know how they feel.”

The Breakdown: Call ’em as you see ’em


In this Jan. 5, 2015, file photo, Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey addresses the crowd after being sworn in during an inauguration ceremony at the Arizona Capitol in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)
In this Jan. 5, 2015, file photo, Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey addresses the crowd after being sworn in during an inauguration ceremony at the Arizona Capitol in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

Early voting has only just begun, but the race for the governor’s office may already be over.

Incumbent Doug Ducey is leading in every poll, including challenger David Garcia’s own internal poll, and it’s pretty likely he’ll win a second term.

The road to elected office is rarely quite so certain, though. And at least one candidate faces a battle not historically won by folks with her party affiliation – or lack thereof.

Don’t forget to subscribe to The Breakdown on iTunes and Stitcher.

Music in this episode included “Creative Minds,” “Piano Moment” and “Energy” by Bensound.

The quiet campaign to forget rural communities

To my friends and neighbors in rural communities, I would like to draw your attention to an action by the federal government that has communities like ours in its crosshairs. Federal regulators are hoping that rural communities will fail to notice what they are doing. In Arizona this list includes Flagstaff, Prescott, and Sierra Vista.

Let’s prove them wrong. Here is what you need to know.

Mignonne Hollis
Mignonne Hollis

The Office of Management and Budget is attempting to quietly change the threshold for what qualifies as a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) from 50,000 population to 100,000. This would mean that the programs that require MSA designation will go away. This funding is vital to bring investment in our local communities and spur on economic development.

At the Arizona Regional Economic Development Foundation, we are fighting to preserve and enhance the quality of life in rural communities. The loss of this designation is an aim to balance the federal budget on the backs of hard-working rural communities like ours, just as we are seeking to rebuild following the Covid pandemic.

We need to keep our seat at the table.

Write or call our members of Congress. Tell them that they need to stop this effort in its tracks. They need to know that you care about moving the MSA designation from 50,000 population to 100,000.

This is not just a “statistical” change – this will have financial impacts on communities.

OMB has identified more than 140 cities that will no longer meet the criteria for MSA eligibility, making them ineligible for many federal resources including, Community Development Block Grant, infrastructure funding and many economic development programs.

You can point out that this funding is vital to bring investment to our local communities and spur on economic development. In addition to funding decisions at the federal level, the loss of a MSA designation could also negatively impact a community’s ability to attract and retain businesses and top-talent employees.

Furthermore, the MSA designation ensures communities like ours can advocate for their needs, access state and federal resources and gives them a seat at many tables. Without this designation, many of our cities will be left without the resources they need or avenues to highlight the work of their community. We respectfully request that OMB not move forward with raising the population standards for MSA.

Will you join me in letting the federal government know that they cannot leave rural communities like ours behind?

Mignonne Hollis the executive director of the Arizona Regional Economic Development Foundation, serves on the board of the International Association for Economic Development, is the current board president of the Arizona Association for Economic Development, and is executive director of Aerospace Arizona.