The Veridus Weekly 1-18-19

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The Veridus Weekly

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Days of session: 5 
Regular sessions shall be adjourned sine die no later than Saturday of the week in which the one hundredth day from the beginning of each regular session falls. The President and Speaker of the House may by declaration authorize the extension of the session for a period of not to exceed seven additional days. Thereafter, the session can be extended only by the Senate and House by a majority vote of the members present in each body. 


In Focus

Making it rain? Or preparing for a Rainy Day? 

Governor Doug Ducey’s Executive Budget for Fiscal 2020 does a bit of both. The spending plan, which the 9th Floor deemed a “balanced, fiscally-conservative” approach – grows the General Fund by approximately $1 billion year-over-year.
But the Governor opts to set aside most of that money – about $540 million – into the state’s Rainy Day Fund. This would bring the reserve account to $1 billion, a little less than 10 percent of the total General Fund.

Outside of that, Governor Ducey’s budget allocates the lion’s share of new spending for K-12 education. This includes an added $165 million to fund the next installment of pay raises for district and charter-school teachers; $9 million for School Resource Officers; $6 million for more school counselors; $10 million to boost Career and Technical Education offerings; and an extra $60 million in Results Based Funding, designed to reward high-performing schools – especially those serving low-income students. In total, including inflationary and other mandated increases, the Governor calls for more than $636 million in new funding for K-12 schools.

Other noteworthy aspects of the budget plan include:

•    A $35 million funding bump for operations at ASU, NAU and UA, plus $21 million additional for the university-led Arizona Teachers Academy;
•    Pay raises for approximately 45 percent of the State workforce, including State Patrol, public correctional officers and Department of Child Safety caseworkers and aides; and
•    $11 million additional for adult protective services.

The Fiscal 2020 budget now becomes the focus of legislators, who in the weeks and months ahead will cobble together a plan of their own. Watch for the Governor’s planned Rainy Day Fund infusion to become the focus of much interest as legislators view these dollars for other, competing purposes.


Ducey: Arizona will retake ownership of Capitol, other state buildings
Arizona Republic

Gov. Doug Ducey made a surprise announcement during his State of the State speech Monday: Arizona has retaken ownership of the House of Representatives building where he was speaking, following a desperate deal in 2010 to sell state buildings for cash.

[...] Ducey referenced the deal while discussing the state's fortunes, which have reversed since he took office. Arizona's more than $1 billion deficit in 2015 has turned into an anticipated $900 million surplus this year.

"And breaking news, somebody call 'The Daily Show,' we even own this building again,” Ducey said, referencing the comedy program that mocked the sale of the buildings years ago.

Read more HERE.

Federal judge rules against Trump administration's plan to add 2020 census citizenship question
The Hill

A federal judge in Manhattan ruled Tuesday that the Trump administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census was unlawful.

In his ruling, Judge Jesse Furman, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s decision to add the question to the census was “arbitrary and capricious” and enjoined the administration from including it on the questionnaire.

[...] The census count is used to redraw House districts and determine the number of House seats each state receives, as well as determine each state’s number of votes in the Electoral College. It’s also used to divvy up federal funding among the states.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) called Furman’s ruling a “forceful rebuke of the Trump administration’s attempt to weaponize the census for an attack on immigrant communities.”

[...] "Accurate population counts are imperative for allocating funding for critical programs and support systems and for determining fair representation in Congress and the Electoral College.”

The Justice Department said it was disappointed and still reviewing the court’s ruling when reached by email Tuesday morning.

Read more HERE.
 
‚ÄčVeridus clients in the news

Uber brings 1,000 electric bikes and scooters to Scottsdale, Mesa
Arizona Republic

Uber is deploying 1,000 electric bikes and scooters in Mesa and Scottsdale via its Jump subsidiary, adding to the variety of rental transportation options throughout the metro area.

[...] "With great weather, popular local events, and bike-friendly roads, Scottsdale and Mesa are perfect cities for e-bikes and scooters," said Andrew Waters, who is overseeing the Jump deployment in Arizona.

The bikes and scooters will be free to unlock and ride for 15 minutes a day until Feb. 4. After that, they will be free to unlock and then cost 15 cents a minute to ride.

[...] Tempe is considering safety regulations, too, considering the Tempe Fire Department has responded to more than 100 accidents since May.

Uber is analyzing the new rules before bringing its business to Tempe. In some cities, the Uber app allows people to rent Lime scooters, but not in Tempe.

On the Arizona State University campus in Tempe, the school banned electric scooters and has started impounding them when they're left on campus. As of last month, ASU had impounded nearly 900 scooters and collected nearly $80,000 in impound fees.

Read more HERE.

Cigna Employees Kick Off $25 Million Healthier Kids For Our Future Initiative By Combatting Childhood Hunger Globally

BLOOMFIELD, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Global health service company Cigna Corporation (NYSE:CI) today kicks off Healthier Kids for Our Future, a $25 million five-year global initiative to improve the health and well-being of children. Cigna's 74,000 global employees will work together to put children on a healthier path, starting with reducing childhood hunger and improving nutrition in local communities. Today, Cigna employees are working side-by-side to pack food for elementary school students who might otherwise go hungry on the weekends, in partnership with the non-profit organization, Blessings in a Backpack.

Healthier Kids for Our Future is part of Cigna’s $200 million investment to support local communities and improve societal health announced at the close of the company’s transaction with Express Scripts in December 2018.

[...] According to Blessings in a Backpack, there are more than 13 million American children at risk of hunger. Research has shown that food insecurity and hunger can significantly affect a child’s short- and long-term physical and mental health and may lead to poorer health outcomes later in life. Blessings in a Backpack, which has partnered with Cigna locally since 2013, is currently feeding more than 87,000 children in more than 1,000 schools across the United States.

[...] Today’s packing events are taking place, often simultaneously, in several cities where Cigna has a significant presence and the backpacks will be distributed in those local communities.

Read more HERE.

As nation's demand for skilled tradespeople grows, Universal Technical Institute opens its doors to prospective technicians

On January 17, students across the U.S. will get an exclusive look at careers in the transportation, computer numerical control (CNC) machining and welding industries during Technician Career Expo & Open Houses hosted by Universal Technical Institute's 13 campuses nationwide.

The U.S. Department of Labor projects that, by 2026, there will be more than 1.2 million job openings in the automotive, diesel and collision repair industries. 1 To help reach that total, the transportation industry will need to fill more than 120,000 technician job openings annually, on average.

During UTI's Technician Career Expo & Open Houses, prospective technicians will learn about these jobs, the leading-edge technologies that power modern vehicles, and the high-tech training and career opportunities available to them.


[...] The company expects to host hundreds of people at each of its campuses in Avondale and Phoenix, Ariz.; Long Beach, Rancho Cucamonga and Sacramento, Calif.; Orlando, Florida; Lisle, Ill.; Norwood, Mass., Bloomfield, New Jersey; Mooresville, North Carolina; Exton, Penn.; and Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston, Texas.

Read more HERE

Education Notes: TEP donates $85k for teacher supply program
Arizona Daily Star

Tucson Electric Power has donated $85,000 to Tucson Values Teachers, a local nonprofit that helps educators purchase school supplies for their classrooms.

TEP’s donation was the largest in the organization’s history. It will allow the nonprofit to fund all 1,200 pending applications to its Tucson Supplies Teachers program and to make additional funds available for new applicants.

[...] “Many teachers spend $500 or more of their own money each year on basic school supplies such as paper, pencils, highlighters and dry erase markers,” according to Katie Rogerson ,TVT’s chief operations officer. Any amount of money — even $50 — can make a difference, Rogerson said.

Read more HERE
 
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In case you missed it . . .
 
Arizona news:

Ducey, legislators at odds over doubling of rainy day fund

Medical marijuana sales in Arizona up 41% in 2018, report says

'Grave concerns' as shutdown affects food-stamp payouts for 850,000 Arizonans

Lawmakers get first look at legislation for Drought Contingency Plan

Bill aims to reduce the amount lobbyists must report spending on lawmakers

Arizona medical-marijuana sales made huge gains in 2018

Speaker, some lawmakers resistant to Ducey’s push to end legislative immunity

Scottsdale considers regulation of cellphone use behind the wheel

Arizona under pressure to pass Colorado River drought plan as deadline nears

Here are the highlights of Gov. Doug Ducey’s State of the State address

Democrats ready to flex strength in numbers for 2019 agenda push

Ducey hires new Parks director to replace fired Sue Black
 
National news:

Trump signs bill guaranteeing back pay for federal workers

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer: 'The State of the Union is off'

Pelosi suggests Trump cancel his State of the Union speech due to the shutdown

Meet the Major Candidates Running for President in 2020

Democrats turn down White House invitation for shutdown talks

First 2020 Senate race ratings are here

As Shutdown Stretches On, Transportation Officials Worry About Long-Term Effects

Trump rejects temporary end to shutdown
 
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