Last Monday, the state legislature completed its work to pass the budget for the fiscal year and adjourned until April 13.

With a few exceptions, the “skinny” budget strips out one-time funding and increases spending in areas that require annual adjustments such as K-12 education and AHCCCS. The budget also continues to phase in the 20% teacher pay increases and the restoration of district and charter additional assistance in K-12 education.  

Using Federal Child Care Block Grant Funds, the budget funds childcare subsidies for 3,000 additional children and increases rates for childcare providers with quality ratings of 3 to 5 stars.

The bare bones budget leaves out several of our priorities like:  

  • Providing comprehensive dental care for pregnant moms participating in Medicaid/AHCCCS

  • Restoring supports to grandparents and other kinship caregivers who step in when parents are unable to care for their children.

  • Raising the childcare subsidy reimbursement rates for all childcare providers to help working parents with high out-of-pocket costs

In response to the evolving issues surrounding COVID-19, the legislature authorized $50 million for deposit into a new “Contingency and Safety Net Fund”. These funds may be spent only after the governor declares a state of emergency. It’s separate and apart from the $55M that the ADHS received from the rainy day fund two weeks ago.

These new funds are restricted to housing assistance, including eviction and foreclosure prevention; services for persons experiencing homelessness, including shelter, clothing, food and transportation; food bank operations; and assistance to businesses with fewer than 50 employees, health care providers and nonprofit organizations.

That’s good because these social distancing interventions are having a profound impact on the social determinants of health and the safety net programs mentioned in the new Contingency and Safety Net Fund are very important.