#AZ Legislature Passes ‘Skinny’ Budget with #Bipartisan #Coronavirus Plan (video)

Leader Charlene Fernandez

With the novel Coronavirus pandemic swirling around the Arizona capital and, most likely, through the halls of the legislature, the Arizona House passed the skinny budget with the Senate-negotiated bipartisan package to address the pandemic in Arizona.

The budget includes $50 million to address the Coronavirus. Along with the emergency response funding of $55 million for the Arizona Department of Health Services, which was passed by the Legislature a couple of weeks ago, that makes $105 million, which the Legislature has earmarked for the Coronavirus reponse. The additional $50 million, which was part of the Senate plan, goes to the governor, and he has flexibility on how to spend it and IF it should be spent.

This is a good first step, but some of us think that the House Democratic amendments would have fleshed out this plan a bit more. For example, there were Coronavirus Crisis Response Plan amendments to give $10 million to the food bank system, $40 million to the Housing Trust Fund (to help with rent, mortgage payments and eviction prevention), funds to expand TANF to five years and increase the amount per month (which is now set at 36% of the 1992 poverty rate), and funds to increase unemployment compensation, which, of course, is one of the worst in the country at ~$240/week.

None of these specifics got into the budget. We will have to watch Governor Ducey and what he does with his flexibility on spending the funds we have allotted. No one knows exactly what the future will bring, so some flexibility is a good thing.

The legislature adjourned until April 13, three weeks from now. Who knows where we will be in three weeks. As of today, March 24, 2020, Arizona has 326 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and five deaths. Two weeks ago, the number jumped from six cases to nine. Almost 100 confirmed cases were added between yesterday and today.

Continue reading #AZ Legislature Passes ‘Skinny’ Budget with #Bipartisan #Coronavirus Plan (video)

Gloves & Hankies: Lessons from the 1918 Flu Pandemic (video)

Just when we humans think the world is at our command, the hand of destiny shows us that it isn’t.

The new coronavirus from China is rocking the world’s largest economy, messing with the supply chain of globalization, and showing us that suppression of vital public health information in order to save face is bad policy.

COVID-19 has spread to different cities in China, Iran, South Korea, other countries in south east Asia, and up into Europe. They are expecting the new flu to come to the US. Public health officials had dire warnings earlier this week. They told Congress that we should expect to have “our lives disrupted” and to practice “staying apart from each other”!

What is the Trump administration doing to get a head of the flu? They put some money into it (perhaps too little too late), but Trump is following the same path as authoritarians in China and Iran and trying to gloss over the effects of the flu as it begins to hit our shores.

This should be a worldwide wake up call, not a time when we put our heads in the sand.

Continue reading Gloves & Hankies: Lessons from the 1918 Flu Pandemic (video)

Are Unregulated Health Insurance Plans Good for #AZ Consumers?

Healthcare forum

In the Health and Human Services Committee on Thursday, Feb 14, we are hearing a long list of bills including two about health insurance.

HB2375 would extend short-duration insurance to three years. This insurance is currently capped at one year because it is seen as a stop-gap measure for people who are between jobs or disconnected from insurance for some reason.

HB2376 relates to association health care plans for small businesses and sole proprietors. This bill allows them to band together and buy insurance as a group. A concern with this idea is regarding the quality of insurance that will be purchased and how that will impact workers who will be included under these plan.

Will association health plans cover essential health benefits, like the Affordable Care Act does? Will they cover people with pre-existing conditions? Will they have lifetime insurance caps? Will coverage be determined by the employer’s “deeply held religious beliefs”?

Continue reading Are Unregulated Health Insurance Plans Good for #AZ Consumers?

Arizona Workers Deserve a Living Wage & a Lot More (video)

Pamela Powers Hannley

Far too many good-paying, full-time jobs disappeared when Wall Street crashed our economy back in 2009. Unfortunately, these jobs were replaced with part-time, low-wage, no-benefits jobs in the gig economy. In Southern Arizona, the post-recession economic recovery has been slow. Arizona workers deserve better. Arizona workers deserve economic security.

On the campaign trail, I often talk about my upbringing in a union household. My Dad was a member and officer in the United Steel Workers local in Lorain County, Ohio, and my Mom worked as an admin assistant in another unionized factory. We lived modestly in a small house, yet we always were financially secure. My parents were high school graduates who never rose the corporate ladder, yet– thanks to unions– my family had many benefits that workers in Arizona today don’t have.

Arizona workers deserve better. They deserve a living wage; benefits like health insurance, paid family leave, paid sick time, paid vacations, overtime pay, and pensions;  equal pay for equal work; full-time work if they want it; and they should be paid for every hour they work. If we can help Arizona workers become financially secure, it will not only help them and their families (obviously), but it will help our state thrive and save our state money in the long run in public assistance, crime, drug addiction, domestic violence and more. There are many negative consequences to living in poverty– or on the edge of it. Workers fuel the economy with their labor and their money. We need to help them and their families be successful in life; after all, like it or not, we’re all in this together riding this blue ball in space.

In this video, I talk about putting Arizonans back to work and about job creation through diversified, sustainable economic development, public banking and other economic reforms.

I want to go to the Arizona Legislature to help Arizona workers and their families. I am a progressive Democrat running for the Arizona House to represent LD9 in Tucson. Together we can build a stronger Arizona for future generations.

Please follow me on social media at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and this blog.  I will be having more house parties, coffees with the candidate, canvassing, and phone banking. Please consider volunteering to help me– here.

AND, if you live in Legislative District 9, please vote for me on August 30 in the Democratic Party Primary and again on November 8 in the general election.

 

Why I Support Paid Sick Leave

Bill Buckmaster
Local news host Bill Buckmaster noted on Facebook that everyone has the “Tucson Cold.” This is a sign that too many people are going to work and/or to school sick.

Tucson City Councilwoman Regina Romero is leading the charge to require local businesses to provide paid sick leave for employees.

As someone who has been in management for more than 20 years, I fully support paid sick leave and the city’s proposed ordinance. At first glance, paid sick leave appears to be an expense that businesses don’t want or need, but in reality, requiring employees to come in sick is far more costly in the long run because it hurts productivity, diminishes customer services, and spreads disease in the community.

Continue reading Why I Support Paid Sick Leave