The Farley Report from Phoenix #138: 9-20-11

Howdy,  Friends O'Farley,

This month I will start with the good news -- earlier this month we won a small victory for public transit and jobs in Arizona. The bad news is that it only benefits Maricopa County residents so far, but I will try to help bring that victory to the rest of us.

You may recall that last year the Republican majority, in its efforts to avoid closing corporate tax loopholes, decided to seize all the money from projects funded by the State Lottery, and redirect those funds to legislative appropriation from that point on. That included revenues for State Parks through the Heritage Fund, and $34 million per year for public transit systems around the state through the Local Transportation Assistance Fund (LTAF). 

This fund was used to buy buses and hire drivers and mechanics, creating good jobs for those working in public transit as well as providing access to jobs for those who depend on public transit to get to work. Seniors and others in rural areas in particular depend on these services to access medical appointments and grocery shopping. Good transit helps create healthy communities, clean air, less traffic congestion, and better urban planning. Eliminating LTAF put thousands of Arizonans' jobs and lives at risk even as it worsened budget crises for our cities and counties.

The benefits of LTAF are many, and should have been enough to convince legislators to keep their hands off. Unfortunately, those benefits did not sway the majority. They swiped the money.

Luckily for us, crusading Tucson public-interest attorney Joy Herr-Cardillo of the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest found a way she could keep LTAF in place for Maricopa County. A conservative federal district judge ruled in her favor on September 2, ordering -- on the same day as oral arguments -- that the state treasurer write out a check to Maricopa County to restore their LTAF-funded transit services.

How did we gain this victory? It is no secret that Maricopa County has had some pretty serious air-quality problems since the 1980s. In 1993, the county agreed to terms with the federal EPA of how they would mitigate their smoggy air to comply with the Clean Air Act. Part of this agreement (a State Implementation Plan, or SIP) required that they invest money from the LTAF into public transit. 

That court order is still in effect, and the judge agreed that the Legislature does not have the power to unilaterally overturn the SIP which is in effect a federal court order. So Maricopa County will get somewhere in the neighborhood of $16 million a year in lottery money restored to its transit system starting this month.

Since the SIP did not apply to the rest of the state with better air, I have set to work convincing many of the other legislators of both parties that we need to restore LTAF to everyone. Especially now, all of us need the jobs and access to jobs that come with LTAF-funded public transit.

I don't have to tell you that the economy is still pretty rough here in Arizona. I recently took tours of the Tucson homeless shelters and transitional housing run by Primavera and New Beginnings for Women and Children, who are doing amazing work. I highly recommend that you visit as well, and offer food or donations if you can. Their facilities are at capacity, and requests for help are still trending upward even as their resources trend downward.

Cuts by the legislative majority to social services, child protective services and health care mean we all have to try to step up and help. Unfortunately, most of our state's leaders still don't seem to get it.

Republicans are out on the campaign trail, bragging about a newfound surplus in the state budget, but they forget to tell us where that surplus came from: Foreclosed homeowners. As I told you last month, a Joint Legislative Budget Committee report explained why we got more than $300 million in unexpected individual income taxes -- Arizonans who have lost their jobs and homes could no longer claim the mortgage interest deduction, so they owed much higher state income taxes.

We need to make this very clear -- this budget was balanced not just on the backs of schoolchildren and cities and counties and people in poverty, but also directly on the backs of foreclosed homeowners. And the Republicans who did this are bragging about it. They just aren't on our side.

Meanwhile, the new publicly funded Arizona Commerce Authority, created out of the Commerce Department by Governor Brewer and legislative Republicans as their way of creating jobs, is setting new records for public arrogance.

Shortly after their private governing board met in a near-secret teleconference to award their CEO Don Cardon a contract worth more than $1.2 million over three years (more than twice what he earned doing the same job as Commerce Director), Mr Cardon turned around and passed out huge raises of up to 75% (that is not a typo) to his new staff, who also did the same jobs at the Department of Commerce.

Perhaps they believe they are doing their part to boost the luxury industry through personal consumption. However, I think our economy would be better served by using that public money to help our kids in neglected public schools. Perhaps you agree.

Again, I have posted at the end of this email a list of resources you can use if you have lost your healthcare thanks to legislative cuts. Please feel free to pass these along to anyone you know who is in need.

Also, please contribute what you can to my re-election campaign as I carry out my leadership duties to recruit, support, and elect a new generation of Arizona leaders. I can't do this alone. I need your support right now.

http://www.FriendsOFarley.org

---> You can contribute up to $424 per person online by going to my website and clicking on the "Contribute" button on the top banner. Thanks so much for helping us transform our state. Every dollar you can share will make a difference. <---

http://www.FriendsOFarley.org

Thanks for your continuing faith in me as your Representative.

Steve

Steve Farley
Arizona State Representative, District 28
Assistant Minority Leader
Ranking Member, Transportation Committee
Ways & Means Committee
Ethics Committee
Legislative Council
Capitol office: 602-926-3022
Tucson office: 520-398-6000
Official email: sfarley at azleg.gov

Please contribute up to $424 per person to help me carry on the work:

http://www.FriendsOFarley.org

RESOURCES FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE LOST THEIR AHCCCS COVERAGE

WellCare Foundation: This is an organization that provides free healthcare to single working mothers and their children who are over the income limits for Medicaid but who don't make enough to pay for their own health care. They are networked with 135 statewide healthcare providers who donate their services and have five clinics throughout the state. Here is a link to their website: http://wellcarefoundation.org/index.aspx. Their founder and CEO, Marge Ebeling, has offered to provide a tour to any of our members. Please let me know if you are interested and I will set it up.

Community Action Programs: These regional programs offer highly discounted pay-as-you-go medical care. Members don't pay a monthly premium but pay an annual enrollment fee and then a low fee at the time of service. Providers within the network are listed on each applicable website. Qualification is based on region, income requirements, and ineligibility for state or federal healthcare. Any potential member is screened for eligibility for state or federal programs prior to enrollment. Here are the programs and websites by region:

Pima County: Pima Community Access Program, http://www.pcap.cc/index.php

Arizona Association of Community Health Centers: This is the umbrella association for Community Health Centers throughout the state. Community Health Centers (also known as Federally Qualified Health Centers) are non-profit clinics located in medically underserved areas and provide primary care for individuals regardless of ability to pay. They provide family and internal medicine, pediatrics, OB/GYN, lab, prenatal and parinatal, pharmaceutical, and case management services. Their website provides a list of Centers throughout the state: http://www.aachc.org/aachc-members

Veteran's Care: Veterans of the Armed Services can be referred to the Department of Veteran's Services Administration. This is a link to a summary of VA programs and services offered throughout Arizona: http://www1.va.gov/opa/publications/factsheets/ss_arizona.pdf

Federal Preexisting Condition Insurance Program: This federal program was designed to provide health insurance coverage to people who are uninsured because of pre-existing conditions. In order to receive insurance through the program, individuals must be citizens or lawful permanent residents, not have been covered for the previous 6 months before applying, and have a pre-existing condition. Here is a link to more information and the application process: https://www.pcip.gov/

Prescription Drug Assistance: Families who cannot afford their prescription drugs can be referred to one of these low/no cost resources

Copper RX: The copper card is a free prescription drug discount card available to any Arizona. http://azgovernor.gov/coppercard/

Partnership for Prescription Drug Assistance: A free program for uninsured and financially struggling patients who lack prescription coverage to get access to prescription assistance programs that offer medicines for free or nearly free. This program offers a single point of access to information on 475 public and private patient assistance programs, including nearly 200 programs offered by pharmaceutical companies. The program also provides information on health care clinics and helps patients contact government programs. http://www.pparx.org/

A link to all DES Programs (including child care, financial and food support, health insurance, unemployment, disability support, and senior services): https://www.azdes.gov/default.aspx

Other tips for individuals losing coverage:

- Keep denial letters for AHCCCS coverage because other programs will want to see proof that they are not eligible.

- Appeals must be filed within 10 days. Appeals may be filed via the AHCCCS appeals form or in any other format the individual chooses (i.e. letter). AHCCCS just needs adequate notice in any format within the specified timeframe that the denial or termination is being appealed.

Paid for by Friends O' Farley