Ariz. law boosts school loan repayment for doctors in ‘underserved’ areas

Senator Griffin

Senator Griffin

Posted: Wednesday, February 25, 2015 7:53 am | Updated: 8:45 am, Wed Feb 25, 2015.

By Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX — Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation Tuesday designed to draw more doctors into the rural and “medically underserved” areas of Arizona.

SB 1194 sharply boosts the amount of money the state will repay of a medical student’s loan if they agree to go where the state says they are needed. The measure will take effect this summer.

Arizona already has a medical loan repayment program for both physicians and dentists. But the maximum repayment is $20,000 for the first two years, $22,000 for the third year and $25,000 for the fourth year.

But Kristen Boilini who lobbies for the Arizona Alliance for Community Health Centers, said that does not make much of a dent in student debt. She said the average medical school graduate starts practice with $170,000 in loans; for dental school grads the figure is $240,000.

The new law sponsored by Sen. Gail Griffin, R-Hereford, makes doctors who go where directed eligible for up to $65,000 for the first two years of service. Potentially more significant, they can get another $35,000 repaid for every year they remain after that, with the only cap being the total number of dollars they owe.

For the entire article, click here:

http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/arizona/article_defd73e9-f4d4-5657-ac34-758938ab90b1.html

Posted in Uncategorized

Measure seeks to entice doctors to rural areas

Senator Griffin

Senator Griffin

State lawmakers are moving to get more doctors into rural and medically underserved areas of the state.
A Senate panel voted Tuesday to expand an existing program that helps doctors repay their medical school debts if they agree to go where they are needed. SB 1194, proposed by Sen. Gail Griffin, R-Hereford, now goes to the full Senate.
Rep. Heather Carter, R-Cave Creek, introduced similar legislation in the House. That measure, HB 2495, is awaiting a hearing.
The proposal likely stands a good chance of becoming law despite the state’s financial situation.
That is because the expansion is structured so it would not require any additional state dollars. Kristen Boilini, lobbyist for the Arizona Alliance for Community Health Centers, said the change permits the program to take private donations which she said will be offered.
She said the state needs another 442 full-time primary care physicians, 441 dentists and 204 behavioral health providers and psychiatrists.
That includes not just the rural areas of Arizona. She said while physicians are attracted to some urban areas, there are inner-city areas in both Pima and Maricopa counties where the number of medical providers falls short.
“Generally, they’re communities with high uninsured, underinsured folks,” Boilini said, with a high percentage of residents getting their coverage through the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state’s Medicaid program.

For the complete story, click here:

http://azdailysun.com/content/tncms/live/

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Focusing on Education Results, not just funding

By Vicki Alger

One of education’s most important annual rituals began last week, when Education Week released its annual Quality Counts report, which grades states based on a variety of criteria, including spending. On cue came the predictable hand-wringing over K-12 education funding.

On Thursday Florida’s Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti told the Florida Times-Union that underfunding is undermining student achievement. “[I]magine how much stronger our students would perform if the policy commitments were maintained and balanced with an increase in per pupil funding,” he said.

In the school spending category, the states at the bottom include North Carolina, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and Idaho which ranked the lowest 49th in K-12 spending, depending on the source and its methodology. Among the states earning this distinction were Alabama, Arizona, California, Illinois, Nevada, Oklahoma and Texas.

California’s 49th place ranking was cited in the 2014 UCLA Undergraduate Students Association resolution, based on per pupil spending adjusted for regional cost-of-living differences. Florida ranked 49th according to the National Education Association. And based on Wallet Hub rankings per capita school spending, Tennessee deserved 49th place. Still other 2014 studies by the Missouri Public School Advocates and the Open Sky Policy Institute gave 49th to Missouri and Nebraska, respectively.

What these identical rankings prove is that you can aggregate data and sift statistics to prove almost anything you want. And what teachers unions and politicians want is more money. Too bad there’s no direct correlation between dollars spent and what matters most: student achievement.

Consider the Education Department’s data on “instructional” spending, which across the U.S. averaged more than $6,500 a student during the 2010-11 school year (the latest data available). Among the dozen states that supposedly ranked 49th in funding last year, Idaho’s instructional spending was reported to be the lowest, around $4,100 a student, followed by Arizona and Oklahoma, which spent about $4,200 and $4,300 respectively. Illinois and Nebraska spent the most, around $7,000 and $7,700, respectively.

How did these states do in terms of student performance? The best answer is to look at the performance of low-income students, those who qualify for the national school-lunch program. Based on public-school results from the 2011 National Assessment of Educational progress (NAEP), the average nationwide reading and math performance among low-income eight grade students was pitiful, with a 48% proficiency rate in both subjects.

The big spenders paid more for worse results. In Nebraska which spent nearly $8,000 per student, a mere 39% of disadvantaged eighth-graders scored proficient or better in reading and math. For the approximately $7,000 a year Illinois spent on instruction, its low-income eighth-graders did no better than the national averages in reading and math.

States that spent less per pupil tended to have better educational outcomes. More than 45% of low income students in Idaho – with its relatively puny $4,100 per pupil spending- tested proficient in reading and math. Low income student in stingy Arizona, which spent $4,200 per pupil on instruction, had 51% proficiency rates in both subjects. And students in penny-pinching Oklahoma, which spent around $4,300 per pupil, achieved a 53% proficiency rate in reading and 52% in math.

One of the most striking differences between these two sets of states is the availability of parental-choice programs. Unlike Nebraska or Illinois both higher-scoring Arizona and Oklahoma have parental-choice scholarship programs that enable parents of disadvantaged students to choose the schools they think are best, including private schools. Schools have to compete for students, which forces them to improve their performance.

Instead of obsessing over who is at the bottom of spending, it would be better to focus on which states are producing the best results for every education dollar spent- and replicate what they’re doing. Student achievement is the only measure that counts.

Ms. Alger is a research fellow at the Independent Institute, Oakland, Calif.

Posted in Budget, Education

Senator Goldwater returns to the U.S. Capitol

51st Legislative Session 021

Arizona will unveil its new statue tomorrow in a special installation ceremony at Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol to honor the late Senator Barry Goldwater’s place in our nation’s history. This is the story of how it happened, from the State Senator who made it happen:

“No individual has had a greater influence on Arizona’s first century than Senator Barry Goldwater. He was known across the country as Mr. Arizona. That is why it is so fitting that we honor his legacy to our great state by placing his likeness in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol, where he will stand among the greatest men and women in our nation’s history.

Statuary Hall was authorized by Congress in 1864 to allow each state to provide two statues of notable citizens for display at the U.S. Capitol. Arizona has been represented by John Campbell Greenway since 1930 and Father Eusebio Kino since 1965. The Greenway statue was sculpted by the renowned Gutzon Borglum, creator of Mt. Rushmore.

In the summer of 2007, during my first year in the Arizona legislature, I visited Washington, D.C. with my young family and we were able to take a tour of the U.S. Capitol through Congressman John Shadegg’s office. During the tour, we visited Statuary Hall, and while I was standing in front of the Greenway statue, I looked to my left and saw Daniel Webster from New Hampshire and looked to my right and saw Robert E. Lee from Virginia. I knew those two prominent figures in U.S. history, but I knew very little about John Greenway, other than the road and high school that bear his name in Phoenix. I wondered to myself, ‘wouldn’t it be more appropriate for Arizona to be represented by Mr. Arizona himself, Barry Goldwater?’ When I got back to Phoenix, I did a little research and learned that it was possible to add a new statue.

Congress had enacted legislation only a few years earlier in 2000 enabling states to request the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress approve the replacement of the statue the state has provided, if the request has been approved by the legislature and approved by the Governor.

Before the 2008 legislative session, I carefully drafted a bill that would enable Barry Goldwater to replace John Greenway in Statuary Hall. During my research, I had learned quite a few things about John Greenway, and developed a great deal of respect for him. I did not mean to dishonor or disrespect the legacy of John Greenway in anyway, but I thought that as Arizona was approaching its centennial, it was fitting that she be represented in Statuary Hall by someone who had a greater impact on the first 100 years of statehood. I gathered bipartisan support for the measure and it passed both the House and the Senate and was then signed by Governor Janet Napolitano.

Once approved, the project got off to a very slow start. There were many distractions, it was an election year and by the next legislative session, Governor Napolitano had resigned and Governor Brewer took over during one of the toughest economic recessions in state history. Still, gradually the pieces of the puzzle were put together as the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress approved the Goldwater placement in 2010 and a committee was established to select an artist and raise the money for the endeavor.

More than 20 artists asked to be considered for the prestigious commission. The committee narrowed that group to five and asked that they produce a small maquette as an example of their vision for the statue, along with a life-sized likeness of Senator Goldwater’s face. Ultimately Deborah Copenhaver Fellows from Sonoita, Arizona was selected as the artist.
We could not be more pleased with the finished product. Deborah Copenhaver Fellows has such an amazing talent and has painstakingly poured her soul into this work of art. She has captured Senator Goldwater’s spirit and presence in what I believe is one of the most lifelike and impressive statues in Statuary Hall.

The statues in the Hall rest on pedestals that are usually about three feet high. The statues can be up to 7 feet tall, for a total of 10 feet in height. One of the things I noticed when visiting Statuary Hall is that most of the faces of the statues were so high in the air and looking straight ahead. It was difficult to see the individuals’ faces. I suggested to Deborah before she started the project that it would be a good idea if Senator Goldwater’s head could be slightly tilted down, as if he were making eye contact with the person looking up at him. She loved that idea and has incorporated it into her work and it really looks impressive.

I am so grateful to all those who played a part in this process. It is amazing to me that a whimsical idea I had seven years ago as a new state legislator would take hold and would actually come to pass. There were so many who dedicated their time, energy and talents to pay this tribute to an important Arizona leader. The entire process was extremely challenging to get where we are today. No tax payer funds were used on the project, which is exactly how Senator Goldwater would have wanted it. It is great to have Mr. Arizona back where he belongs, representing Arizona in the U.S. Capitol.”

Senator Adam Driggs
District 28

Posted in Uncategorized

Arizona State Senate Announces Committee Assignments

Senate President Andy Biggs today announced assignments to Senate committees for the 52nd Legislature. The legislative session begins January 12, 2015.

Committee on Natural Resources

Sen. Steve Pierce-Chair
Sen. Don Shooter-Vice Chair
Sen. Adam Driggs
Sen. David Farnsworth
Sen. Barbara McGuire
Sen. Robert Meza
Sen. Catherine Miranda

Committee on State Debt & Budget Reform

Sen. Jeff Dial-Chair
Sen. Debbie Lesko-Vice Chair
Sen. Ed Ableser
Sen. Lupe Contreras
Sen. John Kavanagh

Committee on Commerce & Workforce Development

Sen. Kimberly Yee-Chair
Sen. Steve Smith-Vice Chair
Sen. Olivia Cajero Bedford
Sen. Jeff Dial
Sen. David Farnsworth
Sen. Robert Meza
Sen. Catherine Miranda
Sen. Bob Worsley

Committee on Water & Energy

Sen. Gail Griffin-Chair
Sen. Sylvia Allen-Vice Chair
Sen. Carlyle Begay
Sen. David Bradley
Sen. Judy Burges
Sen. Debbie Lesko
Sen. Lynne Pancrazi

Committee on Rules

Pres. Andy Biggs-Chair
Sen. Steve Yarbrough-Vice Chair
Sen. Sylvia Allen
Sen. Olivia Cajero Bedford
Sen. Gail Griffin
Sen. Katie Hobbs
Sen. Martin Quezada

Committee on Federalism, Mandates & Fiscal Responsibility

Sen. Judy Burges-Chair
Sen. David Farnsworth-Vice Chair
Sen. Ed Ableser
Sen. Nancy Barto
Sen. David Bradley
Sen. Olivia Cajero Bedford
Sen. Steve Smith

Committee on Rural Affairs & Environment

Sen. Sylvia Allen-Chair
Sen. Gail Griffin-Vice Chair
Sen. Andrea Dalessandro
Sen. Barbara McGuire
Sen. Don Shooter

Committee on Transportation

Sen. Bob Worsley-Chair
Sen. Judy Burges-Vice Chair
Sen. Ed Ableser
Sen. Carlyle Begay
Sen. Jeff Dial
Sen. Catherine Miranda
Sen. Steve Pierce

Committee on Appropriations

Sen. Don Shooter-Chair
Sen. John Kavanagh-Vice Chair
Sen. Sylvia Allen
Sen. Olivia Cajero Bedford
Sen. Steve Farley
Sen. Katie Hobbs
Sen. Debbie Lesko
Sen. Kelli Ward

Committee on Public Safety, Military & Technology

Sen. Steve Smith-Chair
Sen. John Kavanagh-Vice Chair
Sen. Judy Burges
Sen. Lupe Contreras
Sen. Barbara McGuire
Sen. Kelli Ward

Committee on Finance

Sen. Debbie Lesko-Chair
Sen. Steve Yarbrough-Vice Chair
Sen. Steve Farley
Sen. Lynne Pancrazi
Sen. Kimberly Yee

Committee on Health & Human Services

Sen. Nancy Barto-Chair
Sen. Kelli Ward-Vice Chair
Sen. David Bradley
Sen. Katie Hobbs
Sen. Debbie Lesko
Sen. Lynne Pancrazi
Sen. Kimberly Yee

Committee on Government

Sen. John Kavanagh-Chair
Sen. Sylvia Allen-Vice Chair
Sen. Judy Burges
Sen. Lupe Contreras
Sen. Robert Meza
Sen. Martin Quezada
Sen. Steve Smith

Committee on Financial Institutions

Sen. David Farnsworth-Chair
Sen. Steve Yarbrough-Vice Chair
Sen. Andrea Dalessandro
Sen. Adam Driggs
Sen. Steve Farley
Sen. Gail Griffin
Sen. Catherine Miranda

Committee on Education

Sen. Kelli Ward-Chair
Sen. Kimberly Yee-Vice Chair
Sen. Sylvia Allen
Sen. Carlyle Begay
Sen. David Bradley
Sen. Jeff Dial
Sen. Steve Smith

Committee on Judiciary

Sen. Adam Driggs-Chair
Sen. Nancy Barto-Vice Chair
Sen. Lupe Contreras
Sen. Andrea Dalessandro
Sen. Steve Pierce
Sen. Martin Quezada
Sen. Bob Worsley

President Biggs also announced today that Sen. Sylvia Allen will serve as President pro tempore.

Posted in Uncategorized

Arizona State Senate Announces Committees, Chairs

Senate President Andy Biggs today announced Senate committees and the chairs overseeing them for the 52nd Legislature.

Senator Don Shooter will continue to chair the Senate Committee on Appropriations. The Health & Human Services Committee will remain chaired by Senator Nancy Barto and Senator Steve Pierce continues to chair the Committee on Natural Resources.

Senator Gail Griffin chairs the Committee on Energy. Senator Kelli Ward will now chair the Committee on Education. Senator Kimberly Yee will now run the Committee on Commerce & Workforce Development.

Senator Adam Driggs moves into the chair for the Judiciary Committee. The Transportation Committee will now be chaired by Senator Bob Worsley. Senator Judy Burges now chairs the Committee on Federalism, Mandates & Fiscal Responsibility, and Senator David Farnsworth heads the Committee on Financial Institutions.

The four Senators-elect moving over from the House of Representatives will chair committees: Sen.-elect John Kavanagh/Government Committee, Sen.-elect Debbie Lesko/Finance Committee, Sen.-elect Steve Smith/Public Safety, Military & Technology and Sen.-elect Jeff Dial/State Debt & Budget Reform. Sen.-elect Sylvia Allen returns to the Senate to chair the Committee on Rural Affairs & Environment. President Biggs will serve as Rules Committee Chair.

Appropriations Sen. Don Shooter
Health & Human Services Sen. Nancy Barto
Natural Resources Sen. Steve Pierce
Energy Sen. Gail Griffin
Education Sen. Kelli Ward
Commerce & Workforce Development Sen. Kimberly Yee
Judiciary Sen. Adam Driggs
Transportation Sen. Bob Worsley
Federalism, Mandates & Fiscal Responsibility Sen. Judy Burges
Financial Institutions Sen. David Farnsworth
Government Sen.-elect John Kavanagh
Finance Sen.-elect Debbie Lesko
Public Safety, Military & Technology Sen.-elect Steve Smith
State Debt & Budget Reform Sen.-elect Jeff Dial
Rural Affairs & Environment Sen.-elect Sylvia Allen
Rules Pres. Andy Biggs

Posted in Uncategorized

State Senate announces leadership team

President Biggs

President Biggs

Senator Yarbrough

Senator Yarbrough

Senator Griffin

Senator Griffin

Senator Andy Biggs of Gilbert will remain as President of the Arizona State Senate, after a post-election organizational meeting by the Republican Majority.

This will be Biggs’ second term as President, after being elected to the post in January 2013. He will be joined on the leadership team by Majority Leader Steve Yarbrough and Majority Whip Gail Griffin.

President Biggs entered the State Legislature in 2003. Before serving as Senate President, he was Senate Majority Leader and Appropriations Chair.

Majority Leader Yarbrough also entered the Legislature in 2003. He is currently the Chair of the Senate Finance Committee and Chair of the Ethics Committee. He lives in Chandler.

Majority Whip Griffin was sworn into the Senate in 2011, after serving in the House of Representatives. She is currently President Pro Tempore of the Senate. Senator Griffin is Chair of the Government and Environment Committee. She lives in Hereford.

New leadership will be effective at the start of the next term in January, the 52nd Legislature, First Regular Session.

Posted in Uncategorized