Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Arizona's New budget passed with little input from Native American Nations will have drastic consequences

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – The Native American members of the House of Representatives made the following statements regarding the budget that Gov. Doug Ducey signed into law on March 12, 2015:

Rep. Jennifer Benally, D-Tuba City (District 7)

“The cuts to education in this budget are detrimental to Arizona and to Native American communities. In our state, there are 33 school districts located within Native American Nations. These districts will lose nearly $10 million in state funding. Schools rely on this money to maintain facilities and to buy classroom supplies. Instead of investing in schools in Arizona and in Native American Nations, this budget prioritizes special interest tax handouts. This is especially troubling because Native American students have some of the highest school dropout rates in the state. The cuts to education funding are part of a shortsighted economic strategy that has failed in the past and will continue to fail. Without properly educating our children, how are we going to attract new industries to Arizona? This budget isn't logical, and it punishes families.”

Rep. Sally Ann Gonzales, D-Tucson (District 3)

“The choices reflected in the Republican budget jeopardize the safety of our children.  It does not fund foster care caseload growth or emergency placement of children in group homes at a time when about 1,300 Native American children are in out-of-home care for their safety.  The budget also cuts $4 million from child care subsidies. This cut will be compensated for with federal money but the loss means about 1,000 additional children per month will not receive child care. There are nearly 2,000 Native American children who currently benefit from these subsidies. Imagine how many more could be served if the Republicans had made this program a priority? This budget is the result of bad choices.”

Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels, (District 7)

“After an all-night session which resulted in hasty decisions being made in the dark of night, the Legislature adopted a Republican-developed budget that they claim is balanced and supposedly adds money to education. However, upon review, the adopted budget contains many funding cuts that will bring hardship to our children, our elderly, our families in need of assistance, and our educational systems. The budget is ‘balanced’ on the backs of children, elderly, and the needy. Many of the costs are shifted to the counties and local governments. The budget will cause education programs, and programs for the elderly and children to again greatly reduce the services they provide.  Funding for these programs has already been cut to the bone in prior years. Rather than finding new ways to increase our revenues and minimize cuts, we chose only to cut funding.  More egregious is, rather than increasing our revenues or passing laws to accommodate that, we continue to give money away through tax credits and handouts to special interest groups.”

Rep. Victoria Steele, D-Tucson (District 9)

 “This budget has a disproportionately negative impact on Native American Tribes and Nations in Arizona. It was pushed through the legislative process quickly and secretively. It included a new cap on the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program that will ultimately take $9 million from Arizona’s most vulnerable families. The Department of Economic Security estimates that almost 200 Native American families will be affected.  It is clear that their needs are not being recognized by this budget, and the fact that the tribes were never consulted about key parts could be seen as a sign of disrespect.” 
For more information on the budget impacts on Native Americans in Arizona, please see the attached fact sheet or go to www.azhousedemocrats.com.

Impacts of the Fiscal Year 2016 Arizona State Budget on Native Americans

On March 7, 2015 The Legislature passed and on March 12, 2015 the governor signed a $9.1 billion budget that includes $74 million in revenue increases, $220 million in fund transfers, $176 million in spending increases and $497 million in spending reductions.  The budget projects an ending cash balance of $451 thousand in Fiscal Year 2016 and uses $113 million from the Rainy Day Fund to help eliminate a $148 million deficit in FY15. 

K-12 cuts – The policy decisions in this budget represent $170 million in funding reductions in FY16 and $417 million over the next two years.  Some of the specific cuts include:
§  $116.5 millioncut to Additional Assistance:  This is a cut to both District Additional Assistance [$113.5 million] and Charter Additional Assistance [$3 million].  This funding is designed to provide schools with the resources to maintain facilities, purchase classroom supplies, and augment Maintenance and Operations dollars for classroom spending.  

o   There are 33 school districts located within Indian Reservations. This reduction would represent $9.7 million in cuts to those districts.
o   In 2013, Native American students made up to 5 percent of the state student enrollment.
o   The percent of Native American students passing AIMS in either reading or mathematics was the lowest of the racial/ethnic groups. However, Native American students showed the second highest increase (7 percent) in average percent passing in reading from 2010 to 2013.
o   Native American students showed higher dropout rates than all other racial/ethnic groups.

§  $22 million repeal of the Student Success Formula.  This was a newly created performance funding model that rewarded schools for student gains and high school graduations.  This funding was transferred to the School Facilities Board to serve as collateral for charter schools seeking favorable financing.

o   There are 33 school districts located within Indian Reservations. This reduction represents $1.5 million in cuts to those districts.
o   Break  down of the 33 school districts by letter grades:
§ 7 rated B school districts
§ 13 rated C school districts
§ 13 rated D school districts

§  $30 million reduction to JTED formula funding by 7.5 percent for students attending at a satellite campus beginning in FY17.  The reduction would affect districts and JTEDs.

o   JTEDs located within Indian Reservations:
§ There is only one centralized JTED campus located on the Navajo Indian Reservation. (N.A.T.I.V.E. JTED)
§ There are eight satellite JTEDs campuses located within the Indian Reservations (Chinle HS, Ganado HS, Monument Valley HS, Pinon HS, Red Mesa HS, Tuba City HS, Valley Sanders HS, Window Rock HS)
§ This means that the eight satellite campuses will lose JTED funding and only receive           92.5 percent of the BSL funding for a student who is concurrently enrolled in a JTED and district high school.

University Cuts
The Legislative budget continues an ongoing trend of decreased state investment in the three state universities.  Funding is reduced by $99 million and distributed proportionally to each university based on student count
§  UA: $28 million                NAU: $17 million                   ASU: $53 million
  • In the fall of 2013, 1,983 [1.6 percent] of undergraduate students enrolled in the Arizona public universities were Native American students. 
  • During the 2012-13 academic years, 443 Native American students were awarded bachelor’s degrees [1.7 percent of all undergrads graduating].

Community College Cuts
The Legislative budget also eliminates all state funding for Pima Community College District and Maricopa Community College District.  The total reduction equates to $16 million spread between PCCS and MCCD.
§  Pima: $7 million  Maricopa: $8 million

o   At Pima Community College only 3 percent of students taking credit courses, adult education or attending classes at their center for training development, self-identified as Native American
§  For 2013-14, only 1 percent of students receiving an Associate’s Degree and 1 percent receiving a certificate were Native American
o   Statewide, 7,703 Native American students were enrolled in fall of 2012 at the state’s 10 community college districts.
§  These students comprise about 3.5 percent of total statewide enrollment.
o   These cuts are likely to lead to increases in both university and community college tuition, making higher education more unaffordable for a group that is dramatically underrepresented in our higher education system

Health and Human Services
Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) 2 percent “fee” and co-pays– This budget would also require AHCCCS to apply for waivers from the federal government to impose the following statutory changes:
1.    Requires adult Medicaid enrollees up to 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Limit (FPL) to pay a premium of 2 percent of their income,
2.    Allows providers to charge co-pays of up to $25 for non-emergency use of the emergency room, and
3.    Eliminates payment for non-emergency medical transportation from October 1, 2015 through Sept. 30, 2016 for adults at 100 percent – 133 percent FPL.

Premiums: This change will affect the working poor the most: 2 percent income premium will hurt families already struggling to make ends meet. The average premium would be $320 for a family of 2 earning $16,000. This change is only estimated to create $1.1 million in savings in FY17
  • As of January 2015, 9.6 percent of AHCCCS recipients were Native American
TANF 12-month life time limit– The Legislative budget imposes a 1 Year limit on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Cash Assistance in FY17.  This hits poor moms and kids hard: 75 percent (20,400) of the people participating in cash assistance are children; the remaining 25 percent are their parents.

o   The Department of Economic Security estimates that approximately 175 Native American households would lose benefits. 
o   A number of Native American Tribes have exercised the option to develop a TANF Program and to submit their proposal to the federal government for approval. Currently, the following Native American Tribes have federally-approved TANF Programs:
§  Salt River, Pascua Yaqui, White Mountain Apache, Navajo, Hopi, San Carlos Apache,

Department of Child Safety – This budget reverts $5.5 million in unused transition funding back to the General Fund instead of appropriating it to handle growth in caseloads or to address the 15,000-case backlog.
§  The Governor’s budget recommended $3.3 million for caseload growth. The agency currently has a 15,000 case backlog and receives thousands of reports of child neglect and abuse annually.
§  This budget does not fund foster case caseload growth, child care caseload growth or emergency placement of children in group homes.
§  The Governor’s budget proposed $3.4 million for foster care caseloads and $2.2 million for emergency placement of children in group homes and $3.3 million for child care caseload and NONE of these items were funded in the Legislative budget

  • As of September 30, 2014, there were 1,336 American Indian children in out-of-home placement.  This represents 7.9 percent of the current total out-of-home population of 16,900 children. 
Childcare – The Legislative budget cuts $4 million from Child Care subsidies and backfills the loss with Federal funds.  The $4 million cut to the program prevents an additional 1,000 kids per month from getting childcare.
o   DES currently has 30,006 children currently authorized for child care services. 1,933 of these children are coded as Native American. The Department does not differentiate on vs. off tribal lands, only the race.
County Cost Shifts
The FY2016 budget includes several provisions that shift costs to cities, towns and counties.  The largest shift to municipalities and counties is in the form of a $21 million fee split between cities/towns [$14 million] and counties [$7 million] to fund the operations of the Arizona Department of Revenue. One other key change would require counties to pay 25 percent of the cost of juveniles housed at the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections.  This is expected to have a statewide cost to counties of $12 million. The overall impact of ongoing and newly enacted cost shifts is $62 million.
o   Here are the impacts to counties serving Native American populations:
§ Apache: $416,000
§ Coconino: $1.4 million
§ Gila: $631,000
§ Graham: $745,000
§ Pima: $16 million
§ Yavapai: $2.4 million

Agency Consolidations
This budget also includes 3 separate agency consolidations including the transfer of the Department of Racing into the Department of Gaming. The consolidation would be effective on either July 1, 2015, or the effective date of the Budget Reconciliation Bill, whichever is later. 

o   The Tribes were never consulted about a proposed consolidation of an agency that they completely fund, with an agency that receives its revenues from state resources. In addition, the Department of Gaming only exists because of the partnership, otherwise known as the compact, between two sovereigns; the State and the Tribes. The consolidation merges two very different entities, Tribal Governments and commercial racing, into one agency.

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