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Arizona once again finds itself at the center of the federal immigration debate - this time, over looming tariffs on imports from Mexico that President Trump threatens to impose unless the country gets a handle on migrant caravans traveling north.

Arizona Republicans, in particular, are in an exceedingly difficult position as they try to perform a delicate political balancing act: supporting the President and standing with his border security-minded voters while maintaining relationships with key employers and business groups concerned about the economic fallout if tariffs are assessed against our state’s largest trade partner: Mexico. Governor Doug Ducey’s carefully nuanced statements illustrate the political conundrum and risks associated with the tariffs threat. He issued a series of tweets declaring, “Everyone knows I am opposed to tariffs and deeply value Arizona’s relationship with Mexico,” adding, “I prioritize national security and a solution to our humanitarian crisis at the border above commerce.”

The potential economic ramifications of the standoff came into clearer focus this week as a new analysis estimated the Trump tariffs – if fully implemented – would cause the loss of 30,000 Arizona jobs and cost each Arizona consumer an extra $300. Nationally, conservative advocacy groups ranging from the Club for Growth to FreedomWorks have assailed the tariffs plan, and the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry called it a “prescription for a self-induced economic slowdown.” Yet, as recently as last month, 87% of GOP voters nationwide continued to approve of President Trump.

You don’t buck nearly 9 in 10 voters without serious consequence. Just ask (former) Sen. Jeff Flake.

Phoenix and Buckeye are the fastest-growing cities in the United States, according to a report from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Phoenix gained 25,288 new residents from July 1, 2017 to July 1, 2018 — the most of any city in the U.S. — for a total population of 1,660,272 in 2018, according to the census data.

Buckeye grew at the fastest rate of any U.S. city with a population of 50,000 or more between July 1, 2017 and July 1, 2018, gaining 5,813 new residents at a growth rate of 8.5 percent, according to census data.

Deanna Kupcik, president and CEO of the Buckeye Valley Chamber of Commerce, said affordable housing is the primary factor drawing new residents to Buckeye.

[...] Phoenix is seeing a lot of growth, too. Phoenix is the fourth most popular living destination for millennials as well, according to a recent report.

Two-thirds of the Phoenix population arrived from out-of-state, said Eric Jay Toll, communications manager for Community and Economic Development at the city of Phoenix.  [...]

PHOENIX — The U.S. Drought Monitor recently reported that, for the first time in its nearly 20-year history, none of the contiguous states was showing symptoms of severe or exceptional drought. That report includes Arizona, as this year’s abnormally wet May helped push the state out of a 10-year drought period.

According to the monitor’s weekly report for late last week, only 20.5 percent of Arizona was showing moderate drought or “abnormally dry” symptoms. Data for the same week in 2018 found 100 percent of the state in moderate drought or abnormally dry, with a majority of the state experiencing severe (97 percent) or extreme drought (73.2 percent).

Richard Heim, a meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information, said the change was tied to this year’s wet spring.

“Rain and snow have been falling in the areas that needed it, so the drought’s contracted a lot,” he said.

Arizona is no stranger to downpours in the monsoon season, which runs June 15 to Sept. 30, according the National Weather Service, but heavy rain and snowfall in spring isn’t typical for the Southwest.

State climatologist Nancy Selover said the increased rain and snow came from winter storms over the Southwest that lingered longer and provided more moisture than in the past.  [...]

Democratic presidential candidates are ramping up their media appearances, pumping out policy proposals and sharpening attacks on their rivals as two critical moments loom.

The first debates of this election cycle will take place on June 26 and 27 in Miami. And the end of the month will bring the second quarter of fundraising to a close, with totals to be released days afterward.

Together, those two tests will give the clearest picture yet of who is a serious candidate and who will be an also-ran.

Lower-ranking candidates are desperate to vault upwards, while those already perceived to be among the major contenders are looking for an extra shot of momentum.

[...] While headline-grabbing policy proposals might help them to some degree, no one doubts that the first debates will be the biggest opportunity for them, and candidates who face similar predicaments, to create a buzz.

But the sheer size of the Democratic field will bring challenges too. There are currently 24 candidates looking to challenge President Trump, and 20 will be on the debate stages in Miami — 10 on each night.

[...] Virtually no one expects the full field to make it to the first contests, the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3.

That means for some the debates could be a political life-or-death moment. For top-tier candidates, they provide the opportunity to bolster strength, or to come unstuck. [...]

veridus clients in the news

PHOENIX — An Icahn Automotive Group program to help fill 46,000 projected auto service technician jobs added the Universal Technical Institute’s Avondale campus as a partner.

The Race to 2026 initiative, started by Icahn Automotive Group, already had partnerships with Pep Boys, AAMCO and Precision Tune Auto Care.

UTI Avondale will now receive benefits such as scholarships, tuition reimbursement, access to apprenticeship and internship opportunities and other continuing education opportunities.

Icahn Automotive president of service Brian Kaner, while at an event to announce the partnership, helped to unveil new classrooms and designs at UTI and awarded a $2,500 scholarship from Icahn Automotive to Jeramy Yeagley, a UTI student.  [...]

Several Legacy Traditional Schools campuses, including the one in Glendale, will offer free or reduced-price lunch through the National School Lunch Program beginning this fall.

Legacy’s North Chandler and East Mesa campus piloted the successful program during the 2018-19 school year. The federally subsidized assisted meal program provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunch and breakfast to children each school day.

“The importance of offering high-quality, low-cost meals for students cannot be understated, and we are so pleased to foster an environment where children can achieve overall wellness and academic success,” Superintendent Nicole Kirkley said.

“Expanding our free and reduced-price lunch program provides increased access to nutritious meal options — supporting a strong academic foundation.”

Students may be determined “categorically eligible” for free meals through participation in certain Federal Assistance Programs, their status as a homeless, migrant, runaway or foster child, or based on household income and family size.

For more information about Legacy Traditional Schools and the free or reduced-price lunch program, visit

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