Budget staff at the Arizona legislature shared good news about the state budget: almost every tax category brought increased revenues for the state last month. This means the state is expected to end the year without a deficit, and with a balance of more than $400 million in its “rainy day fund.”
The Arizona Department of Housing is evaluating a new effort to help tenants facing eviction, and the Arizona Department of Transportation implemented legislation that allows homeless veterans to receive a driver’s license or state ID at no cost – a step toward housing and employment.
The Arizona Department of Education announced federal approval of its plan to use excess federal dollars to repay schools $84 million for misallocated special education funding. Underfunded schools will receive the money over the next five years; districts that were overfunded by the state will not have to repay the excess money.
In the News
The National Juvenile Defender Center reported that Arizona’s juvenile justice system needs improvement, and NPR highlighted the ways Arizona uses funding for public mental health services. FWD.us, a bipartisan criminal justice reform organization, released a report on the policies that impact Arizona’s prison population.
Attendance Works, a non-profit focused on improved school attendance, took a closer look at why Arizona’s levels of chronic absence in school are higher than the national level – and why it is a problem.
In the Courts
The Arizona Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling that prioritizes children’s best interest over parental rights – a ruling that could impact decisions at the Arizona Department of Child Safety.
The Court will also consider another case with big implications for the state budget. This week, it agreed to determine whether the state can continue to use its rental car surcharge for sports stadiums and tourism priorities. A rental car company challenged the state’s ability to use the tax for anything other than transportation priorities.
The surcharge is a voter-enacted tax on rental cars and hotel lodging in Maricopa County and Pima County; it provides funding to cover the costs of the Cactus League spring training events throughout the Phoenix region, and for a variety of youth sports facilities and tourism promotions.
If the Arizona Supreme Court rules against the current use of the fee, the state could be required to find a new funding source for sports facilities and repay an estimated $160 million that has been distributed through the taxes.
There are more than five weeks until the November general election, but October 9 is the last day to register to vote before the election. Click here to register or verify your registration status.
Political candidates continue their debate schedule; click here to watch past debates or find an upcoming debate.
Candidates for Superintendent of Public Instruction will participate in a debate on KJZZ on October 2 at 7:00 p.m. – click here to reserve your seat. The Superintendent candidates will also participate in a forum hosted by The Arizona Capitol Times – click here for free registration to attend the event.
On the Very Bright Side…
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport added a video chat interpreter for travelers who are deaf or speech-challenged, a food truck owner broadened her business to teach cooking skills to individuals with Down syndrome, and summer in Phoenix came to an end without any known loss of children or pets who were left in a hot car.