The wait is over. On Friday, Governor Doug Ducey unveiled his Executive Budget for FY 2021.
Tipping the scales at $12.3 billion, the 9th floor touted the spending plan as the administration’s “most robust agenda to date.” The proposal invests significantly in K-12 and higher education, public safety and infrastructure.
As expected, K-12 education is the biggest beneficiary and accounts for nearly two-thirds of all new spending. Other big winners include higher education, transportation, public safety, veterans and corrections, among others.
- $608 million total new spending for K-12 public education, including the final installment of teacher pay raises under the Governor’s 20×2020 plan
- $35 million for public universities to support a “New Economy” initiative, as well as additional dollars to expand the Arizona Teachers Academy programs at ASU, NAU and UA
- $43 million to support pay raises for state correctional officers
- $28 million to accelerate expansion of the I-10 between Tucson and Phoenix
- $5 million to provide body cameras for all state troopers
- $7 million for wrong-way driving prevention and response
Arizona Senate Republicans released a budget plan of their own Friday.Similar in many aspects to the Governor’s plan, the Senate proposal includes a series of tax breaks and roughly $100 million less in spending.
Both legislative leaders and the Governor have expressed a desire to complete budget work quickly this session. Of course, that’s the plan every year … right up until it isn’t.
Veridus Clients in the news
AGO Will File Special Action with Arizona Supreme Court to End Illegal Tax Scheme
PHOENIX – Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced today that he believes the City of Phoenix violated the Arizona Constitution when it imposed new rideshare fees for companies operating at Sky Harbor. The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) released an investigative report concluding that the Phoenix City Council very likely acted in violation of Article IX, § 25 of the Arizona Constitution.
[…] In 2018, Arizona voters passed Proposition 126 with over 64% of the vote. It amended Arizona’s constitution to prohibit a city from increasing or imposing any new tax or fee on a person or business for providing a service in Arizona.
The AGO will promptly file two actions with the Arizona Supreme Court to strike down the City of Phoenix’s unconstitutional rideshare fee and prevent the ordinance from taking effect. If the high court agrees with the AGO’s determination, Phoenix’s ordinance will be void.
Copy of the AGO investigative report.
ESA Foundation Opens the 2020-21 Scholarship Application Process with its First-Ever College Esports Program for American Women & Minorities
The esports scholarship is one of three the Foundation now offers college students seeking a career in the video game industry; Applications due March 2
WASHINGTON, Jan. 16, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Recognizing the need to help women and minority college students access quality education as well as pathways to working in the video game industry, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) Foundation today opened its 2020-21 scholarship process. The Foundation also announced that, for the first time, it’s offering an esports scholarship. The Foundation now offers three scholarships: its Computer and Video Game Arts Scholarship; another scholarship co-awarded by Gay Gaming Professionals for service to LGBTQ+ communities; and a scholarship for college students competing on esports teams at accredited four-year institutions in the United States. The application deadline for all three scholarships is March 2, 2020.
The video game industry is one of the nation’s fastest-growing economic sectors, employing more than 220,000 Americans across all 50 states — with increasing job opportunities. As a highly technical, skilled occupation, video game design and development has made its way into higher education, with upwards of 500 colleges and universities now offering programs or degrees related to video games. Just five years ago, that number was less than 200.
“The ESA Foundation is devoted to empowering the next generation of video game creators and fostering an industry in which those creators reflect the players they’re making games for,” said Anastasia Staten, the ESA Foundation’s executive director. “We’re excited to expand our scholarship offering this year to include underrepresented students passionate about esports, which has quickly become one of the most popular forms of entertainment. But it’s also important that aspiring game creators get to tell their unique stories in ever-more-creative ways.”
Since its inception 20 years ago, the ESA Foundation has awarded close to 400 scholarships to women and minority students pursuing degrees leading to careers in the industry. Aside from receiving funding, awardees are invited to network with game developers, attend educational sessions and meet industry leaders at big events, including E3, the industry’s premier annual trade show in Los Angeles. […]
Phoenix Business Journal
Universal Technical Institute is implementing several changes in senior leadership as it looks to the future in the wake of the retirement of long-time CEO Kim McWaters last October.
McWaters, who retired on Oct. 31, 2019, worked on transforming the company during the past few years. It had once sustained heavy losses to a healthier balance sheet with projections of future profits. UTI, which provides technical training for students looking for careers in the automotive repair field, is changing its leadership team as it puts an emphasis on boosting enrollment.
Todd Hitchcock joined the company as senior vice president and chief strategy and transformation officer on Jan. 6. Hitchcock, who has more than 20 years’ experience in leadership roles in the eduction sector, had been consulting for UTI (NYSE: UTI) for two years as president of Red Leaf Advising and will now be responsible for growth opportunities.
[…] After 25 years with UTI, Lori Smith was promoted to senior vice president and chief information officer. Smith has been vice president, business intelligence and compliance, since 2009 and was responsible for the company’s national accreditation with the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.
[…] The company also said that Chief Marketing Officer Piper Jameson has left the company because of the shift in responsibilities and to pursue other interests. […]
Health insurer Cigna and Oscar Health will launch commercial health insurance plans for small businesses in several U.S. markets.
Oscar, perhaps best known for selling individual coverage known as Obamacare under the Affordable Care Act, has been working to expand its offerings in an increasing number of U.S. individual and small group markets. Cigna, which owns the pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts, has a big business administering coverage for large self-insured employers and is also working to package an array of medical, pharmacy and behavioral health benefits for employers large and small.
In the partnership with Cigna, the two companies plan to “share risk equally under a reinsurance agreement” to sell fully insured plans to the small group market under the “Cigna + Oscar brand.” Once cleared by regulators, the companies said they will “launch in select markets in 2020 and plan to expand the partnership over time.”
Among the health benefits offered will be “integrated medical, behavioral and pharmacy services,” which is a key strategy of Cigna and one Oscar will be pushing as well with its technology platform. The combination will also allow for “broad access to high-performing networks of doctors and hospitals,” the companies said. […]
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In other news …
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Monday delivered his sixth State of the State address.
Arizona Capitol Times
A Republican lawmaker from Coolidge will carry the water for the governor’s forthcoming effort to enshrine a ban on so-called sanctuary cities in the state Constitution.
In his State of the State Address, Gov. Doug Ducey said that in November, it’s time to give Arizonans the chance “to say yes to the rule of law and no to sanctuary cities.” Behind that effort, he said, is Rep. T.J. Shope, R-Coolidge, who is planning to file a ballot referral resolution that would ask Arizona voters to decide whether the Arizona Constitution should bar local jurisdictions from limiting their compliance with federal immigration enforcement efforts.
[…] Democrats, however, think the legislation won’t be drama free and that Ducey and other Republicans have misread the overwhelming defeat of a ballot measure that would have made Tucson a sanctuary city.
The impetus for such a legislative effort, Shope said, was the recent Tucson Families Free and Together initiative, an attempt to limit the instances in which police can detain a person based on their immigration status and ban collaboration with federal immigration enforcement. Tucson voters roundly rejected the measure. Even the city’s newly elected progressive mayor, Regina Romero, opposed it — though this was more grounded in threats from the state to drain the city’s state-shared funding rather than an ideological problem with the initiative.
[…]Given statements from House Speaker Rusty Bowers and Senate President Karen Fann that they’d like the session to be brief and relatively free of controversy, it seems an odd time for such a measure.
Evidently, Ducey has no such compunction.
“The governor asked me and I said yes,” Shope said, clarifying that he did not ask why the governor chose him to carry this eventual resolution. “I have long been one of those guys who, if the governor asks you to work on something, you say OK.”
And Shope, the speaker pro tempore, said that he didn’t expect the referral to garner nearly as much controversy as conventional wisdom would suggest, given the thumping that Tucson’s sanctuary city initiative took. […]
If you’re one of almost 69 million Americans who receive Social Security or Supplemental Security Income benefits, you’ll notice a small change in your monthly check this year.
More than 63 million beneficiaries will receive a 1.6% cost-of-living adjustment this month. The 8 million SSI beneficiaries received their COLA on Dec. 31.
Put another way: The average monthly benefit for all retired workers will rise from $1,479 to $1,503 this month. And the average monthly benefit for couples who both receive benefits will rise from $2,491 to $2,531.
That’s one of many changes beneficiaries and would-be beneficiaries can expect in 2020.
Here are some others:
Earnings subject to Social Security tax
The maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax will increase from $132,900 in 2019 to $137,700 in 2020. To be fair, this increase affects just 11.8 million of the 171 million workers who are covered under Social Security. But that increase, according to David Freitag, a financial planning consultant with MassMutual, could be a bit of a surprise for the 7% of workers who will have to pay about $298 more of their wages into Social Security in 2020 than in 2019.
[…] How work affects your benefits
If you’re working, receiving Social Security benefits, and you’re younger than full retirement age, your earnings may reduce your benefit amount. (Full retirement age is the age at which you first become entitled to full or unreduced retirement benefits through Social Security.)
[…] Social Security and taxes
Slightly more than half of Americans (56%) pay taxes on their Social Security benefits, according to the SSA. And that percentage is likely to increase given that the income tax thresholds for Social Security aren’t – by law – adjusted for inflation, according to Joseph Stenken, an advanced markets product consultant at Ameritas and author of “Social Security & Medicare Facts.”
[…] The SECURE Act
The SECURE Act, a bipartisan retirement bill that President Donald Trump signed into law late last year, will also affect current and future beneficiaries in at least a couple of ways, says Stenken. […]