Maricopa Legislative Children’s Issues

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We’ll talk about how children fared in the 2017 legislative session with Dana Wolfe Naimark, president and CEO of the Children’s Action Alliance.

TED SIMONS: ISSUES RANGING FROM TEACHER SALARIES AND VOUCHER EXPANSION TO EASING THE APPLICATION PROCESS FOR FOOD STAMPS WERE JUST SOME OF THE ISSUES AFFECTING CHILDREN DURING THE RECENTLY-COMPLETED LEGISLATIVE SESSION. HERE NOW TO GIVE HER ASSESSMENT ON HOW KIDS FARED WITH LAWMAKERS IS DANA WOLFE NAIMARK, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF THE CHILDREN'S ACTION ALLIANCE. GOOD TO SEE YOU AGAIN. THANKS FOR JOINING US. I FEEL LIKE WE DO THIS EVERY YEAR. WE GET YOU ON AND YOU ARE NOT ALL THAT HAPPY. STILL NOT HAPPY?

DANA WOLFE NAIMARK: NO, I'M NOT HAPPY AT ALL WITH HOW CHILDREN WERE TREATED THIS LEGISLATIVE SESSION. THERE WAS A LOT OF PRETTY PACKAGING, BOWS AND TALK BUT INSIDE THE PACKAGES WILL ENDANGER CHILDREN GOING FORWARD.

TED SIMONS: YOU SAID HEALTH, SECURITY ALL ENDANGERED GOING FORWARD. EXPLAIN.

DANA WOLFE NAIMARK: THERE WERE A FEW BRIGHT SPOTS AND IMPROVEMENTS. THE APPLICATION FOR FOOD STAMPS, BUT THE FUNDAMENTALS WERE DAMAGED. THAT'S WHY I WORRY ABOUT THE FUTURE. NOT ONLY DID WE MAKE NO DENT IN OUR TEACHER SHORTAGE CRISIS, WE MADE NO DENT IN THE $1.1 BILLION DEFICIT WE HAVE EVERY YEAR FOR SCHOOLS THAT WE HAVEN'T RESTORED SINCE THE GREAT RECESSION. WE GAVE AWAY TAX CUTS TO BIG CORPORATIONS, PEOPLE AT ALL INCOME LEVELS. THERE WILL BE LESS FUNDING FOR EDUCATION IN THE FUTURE.

TED SIMONS: YOU KNOW THE ARGUMENT THERE, TAX CUTS TO CORPORATIONS AND INDIVIDUALS PUTS MORE MONEY INTO THE INDIVIDUAL'S HANDS, GIVES THE CORPORATIONS A BETTER OPPORTUNITY TO DO BUSINESS SO THAT RISING TIDE LIFTS ALL BOATS, INCLUDING BOATS THAT CONTAIN CHILDREN.

DANA WOLFE NAIMARK: I HAVE HEARD THAT ARGUMENT. I HAVE LIVED HERE 30 YEARS. WE HAVE NO EVIDENCE THAT, THAT HAS WORKED. THE GOVERNOR AND LAWMAKERS TELL US EVERY YEAR, SORRY, WE WISH WE COULD DO MORE FOR KIDS AND EDUCATION BUT WE DON'T HAVE THE MONEY. THEN AFTER THEY PASS THE BUDGET, THEY PASSED MORE TAX CUTS.

TED SIMONS: START WITH THE GOOD, THEN WE'LL GET TO THE BAD. APPLICATION PROCESS FOR FOOD STAMPS, MONTHLY PAYMENT TO RELATIVES RAISING ABUSED AND NEGLECTED KIDS. THAT'S A POSITIVE.

DANA WOLFE NAIMARK: IT IS. THE GOVERNOR HAS REALLY BEEN SENSITIVE TO RELATIVES WHO ARE RAISING CHILDREN WHEN THEIR PARENTS CAN'T. THIS STIPEND IS IMPORTANT TO FORTIFY THOSE FAMILIES THAT ARE FRAGILE

TED SIMONS: MORE LITERACY GRANTS TO LOW-INCOME SCHOOL DISTRICTS.

DANA WOLFE NAIMARK: ANOTHER GOOD SIGN. WE APPRECIATE THE THREE YEAR GRANTS SO SCHOOL DISTRICTS CAN MAKE A PLAN AND INVEST WHERE IT COUNTS FOR THEIR STUDENTS.

TED SIMONS: AND THE EXTENSION OF TEMPORARY ASSISTANCE TO NEEDY FAMILIES. THAT'S GOOD, BUT IT COMES WITH A BAD, CORRECT?

DANA WOLFE NAIMARK: WE HAVE A 12 MONTH TIME LIMIT, THE SHORTEST TIME LIMIT OF ANY STATE IN THE COUNTRY. THERE ARE EXCEPTIONS NOW. PEOPLE THAT FOLLOWED ALL OF THE RULES AND HAVE NEVER GONE AWAY FROM THE RULES CAN GET ANOTHER 12 MONTHS IN THEIR LIFETIME, BUT WE BASICALLY SET UP A STANDARD OF PERFECTION AND PUNISHMENT FOR STRUGGLING MOMS, MOMS THAT ARE EXTREMELY POOR. WE DON'T GIVE THEM A CHANCE TO FIX THEIR MISTAKES AND GET BACK ON THEIR FEET AND HAVE A BRIDGE OUT OF POVERTY. I THINK THAT'S A BIG MISTAKE.

TED SIMONS: WE HAVE HAD REPUBLICANS ON AND THEY SAY THE WAY TO HELP THEM GET BACK ON THEIR FEET IS TO NOT HELP THEM STAY OFF THEIR FEET.

DANA WOLFE NAIMARK: WE WANT THEM TO BE BACK ON THEIR FEET AND WE AGREE THAT JOB TRAINING AND EDUCATION AND COUNSELING HELP, BUT WE ARE NOT DOING THOSE THINGS. WE ARE GOING TO WORK WITH THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE TO IMPROVE THAT.

TED SIMONS: ARIZONA, AN OUTLIER HERE, LOWEST RATES OF CHILD CARE ASSISTANCE, TEACHER SALARIES, SHORTEST LIFETIME LIMITS FOR POOREST MOMS AND KIDS. THAT DOESN'T CHANGE, RIGHT?

DANA WOLFE NAIMARK: WE ARE THE OUTLIER IN THE NATION. WHAT WAS DISTURBING ABOUT THE SESSION WAS THE TALK ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF PUBLIC EDUCATION BUT THE ACTIONS WENT IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION. A 1% TEACHER BONUS, NO WAY ANYONE CAN SAY THAT WILL ADDRESS THE TEACHER SHORTAGE CRISIS. WHEN THE GOVERNOR TALKED ABOUT NEXT STEPS AFTER PROPOSITION ONE, TWO, AND THREE, NOBODY THOUGHT IT WAS WOULD BE VOUCHERS FOR PRIVATE SCHOOLS, BUT THAT HAPPENED. WE ARE DIVERTING 200 MILLION TAX DOLLARS FOR PRIVATE SCHOOLS.

TED SIMONS: THEY ARE SAYING IT WAS A SMALL MOVE. THE INITIAL IDEA WAS FOR EVERY STUDENT TO HAVE THE OPTION. IT'S A SMALL STEP. LET'S SEE HOW IT GOES. WE'LL TAKE IT FROM THERE. YOU SAY?

DANA WOLFE NAIMARK: I'VE HEARD THE GOVERNOR SAY IT'S A SMALL STEP, BUT THE OUT OF STATE FACTIONS UNDER WRITING HIS POLITICAL CAREER CALL IT BOLD, MASSIVE, MONUMENTAL. HE'S TELLING ARIZONA PARENTS SOMETHING DIFFERENT THAN HIS OUT OF STATE FUNDERS ARE SAYING.

TED SIMONS: THE FOCUS ON ACHIEVEMENT GAP FOR LOW INCOME KIDS, I UNDERSTAND THE MONEY ASPECT OF IT, BUT IS THERE SOMETHING OTHER THAN ADDITIONAL FUNDING THAT COULD HAVE BEEN DONE TO TAKE CARE OF THE ISSUES?

DANA WOLFE NAIMARK: I THINK THE LITERACY GRANTS ARE ONE BRIGHT SPOT THAT CAN TAKE A TINY STEP TO CLOSE THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP. THOSE GRANTS ARE FOCUSED ON DISTRICTS WITH A LOT OF POOR KIDS AND ARE REQUIRED TO MAKE THE GRANTS FIT IN WITH THE OVERALL PLANS. THE RESULT-BASED FUNDING GIVES MONEY TO DISTRICTS AND CHARTERS ALREADY EXCELLING. IT DOESN'T HELP CLOSE THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP. WE HAVE SPRINKLED FUNDING TO A FEW SCHOOLS AND CHARTERS. WE HAVE NOT CHANGED THE FUNDAMENTALS OF THE SYSTEM.

TED SIMONS: THE WISH LIST, I'M SURE, IS BEING FORMULATED. WHAT DO YOU THINK NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED THE MOST WHEN IT COMES TO CHILDREN'S ISSUES?

DANA WOLFE NAIMARK: TOP IS TEACHER PAY AND TEACHER SHORTAGE. WE KNOW FROM THE REPORT THE MORRISON INSTITUTE DID, IT'S NOT ONLY PAY BUT WORKLOAD. WORKLOAD IS AFFECTED BY OUR DISINVESTMENT SO TEACHERS DO MORE AND MORE THROUGHOUT THE SCHOOL DAY BECAUSE THERE'S NO LIBRARIAN, NO NURSE, NO COUNSELOR. WE HAVE TO ADDRESS THAT SO THEY CAN FOCUS ON THEIR STUDENTS IN THEIR CLASSROOM AND THEY ARE PAID A FAIR SALARY THAT REFLECTS WHAT WE EXPECT WITH THEM.

TED SIMONS: IT BEGINS AND ENDS WITH EDUCATION, DOESN'T IT? GOOD TO SEE YOU. THANKS FOR JOINING US.

Dana Wolfe Naimark: President, CEO Children's Action Alliance

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