Budget Adds $50 Million For COVID-19 Response
PHOENIX, AZ (STL.News) Arizona Governor Doug Ducey today signed a bipartisan state budget agreement that adds $50 million for Arizona’s COVID-19 response — dollars to assist Arizonans needing eviction assistance, struggling small businesses, our food banks and our homeless population.
The budget also fully funds essential services—such as child safety and public safety—while completing the 20×2020 teacher pay raise and adding new dollars for schools and resources to repair prison locks.
Governor Ducey issued a signing letter along with today’s budget package. In it he said:
“I commend legislative leaders of both parties, and all the Republican and Democratic members who shaped and passed this package, for coming together, putting politics aside, and showing real leadership. It’s reflective of what we are seeing all across our state — Arizonans uniting to slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives. Our job isn’t done with this package of budget bills. There will certainly be more work to do and many tough decisions ahead of us as we better understand the full impact of this crisis on our citizens and on our economy. But Arizona is once again showing what it means to come together and put the good of our citizens before partisanship or politics.”
In addition to new dollars for Arizona’s COVID-19 response, new funding in this budget for top Arizona priorities includes:
- $175 million for the third installment of the 20×2020 teacher pay raise plan. In total, Arizona has added $645.2 million for Arizona’s public school teachers as part of the 20×2020 initiative – resulting in permanent funding for a 20 percent increase for average teacher pay;
- $67 million in accelerated flexible funding for schools, which can be used on things such as technology, textbooks, building renewal, and personnel;
- $90 million for school building renewal, in addition to $28 million FY2020 supplemental funding, for a total of more than $118 million in new dollars for school repairs and maintenance;
- $23 million to improve access to quality child care for low-income working families and foster parents by providing incentive bonuses to quality child-care facilities ranked by First Things First;
- $15 million to fully fund the Water Quality Assurance Revolving Fund (WQARF) program. WQARF is Arizona’s alternative to the EPA’s approach to remediating contaminated hazardous waste sites — this budget will mark the first time since 2007 that the State is fully funding the program from the General Fund;
- $11 million for lock, HVAC, and fire suppression systems in correctional facilities;
- $8 million to expand access to behavioral health services for uninsured and underinsured kids;
- $5 million for the first year of the Arizona Industry Credential Incentive Program, helping more students become workforce ready;
- And $3 million in additional resources to prepare for the opening of the state’s newest Veteran Homes in Flagstaff and Yuma next summer.
Arizona has taken robust action to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and provide relief to Arizonans impacted. These actions include:
- Signing legislation and issuing an executive order to expand access to unemployment benefits;
- Working with the federal government to expand the federal food stamp program so people can get more benefits faster and for hot food;
- Announcing $5 million in new resources to help Arizonans struggling to make rent due to COVID-19;
- Announcing a cooperative agreement with the state’s largest electric utilities so no one has their power shut off due to COVID-19;
- Launching Arizona Enrichment Centers to provide childcare for children of first responders, healthcare workers, and essential public sector workers;
- Helping licensed professionals stay licensed and deferring certain requirements for six months;
- Announcing $5 million for “Meals on Wheels” to provide meals to older adults;
- Requesting a special enrollment period on the Federal Insurance Marketplace so people who’ve lost their income can buy health insurance;
- Waiving rules requiring a physician to oversee Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists, freeing up more doctors up to provide other needed medical services;
- Issuing an executive order expanding hospital capacity and increase hospital beds in the state by 50 percent;
- Issuing an executive order expanding coverage of telemedicine services;
- Partnering with the BSTRONG Initiative, the Global Empowerment Mission and the Verstandig Foundation to secure up to one million N-95 masks and other equipment for Arizona health care professionals;
- Receiving federal approval to implement programmatic changes to help ensure access to health care for kids and vulnerable Arizonans by submitting a request to waive certain Medicaid and KidsCare (CHIP) program requirements;
- Issuing an executive order delaying the enforcement of eviction action orders for renters impacted by COVID-19;
- Announcing the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality will waive emissions tests vehicle owners 65 and older for up to one year;
- Announcing a shipment of more than 440,000 medical supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile for Arizona health care professionals;
- Announcing the launch of a new statewide 2-1-1 COVID-19 Hotline using $2 million in funding provided by the Arizona Department of Economic Security;
- Signing legislation to support schools during closures, provide clarity and flexibility on statewide testing requirements and school letter grades, give direction on make-up days, require learning opportunities for students to continue, and ensure teachers and staff see no disruption in pay as a result of COVID-19;
- Signing legislation to bring more resources into Arizona’s health care system by increasing Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) provider rates for hospitals, doctors and more;
- And launching ArizonaTogether.org, a centralized location for Arizonans to access resources and information during the COVID 19 outbreak.
More information about guidance from public health officials can be found at azhealth.gov.