Brewer Flushes CPS As
AZ Legislature Reconvenes
Governor’s State-Of-The-State Speech To The Arizona Legislature Sends Business-Friendly Messages, Requests Legislative Support To Interdict Human Trafficking, And Sets Bar For Mental Health Policy
By Chris G. Braswell
Modern Times Magazine
Jan. 13, 2014 — During the State-Of-The-State speech this afternoon before the Arizona House of Representatives, Gov. Jan Brewer announced that she had signed an executive order this morning that “abolishes CPS as we know it.”
The speech coincided with the reconvening of the state legislature for the second session of its 51st assembly.
Arizona Child Protective Services will be replaced by a new Division of Child Safety and Family Services with its own cabinet-level director reporting to the governor. Brewer has appointed Charles Flanagan to serve as its director. The governor said that more work still remains to be done, administratively, however.
“The time has come to statutorily establish a separate agency that focuses exclusively on the safety and well-being of children, and helping families in distress without jeopardizing child safety,” she said. “I call on the legislature to work with me to codify a new permanent agency.”
Among the governor’s “Four Cornerstones of Reform” (http://bit.ly/KfOi06) which comprise an organized focus on economic competitiveness, education, state government, and renewed federalism, Brewer made a number of other requests of the 51st legislature.
Last year, the governor’s office established a Human Trafficking Task Force to determine how to better protect victims and increase penalties related to human trafficking.
“Today, I ask you to strengthen Arizona law to give prosecutors and law enforcement more tools to combat this evil and better protect victims,” she said.
Brewer also pledged to launch an awareness campaign so Arizonans will know what to look for when detecting human smuggling, and how to report it, and she promised to create a Human Trafficking Council to coordinate statewide efforts to interdict human trafficking.
“To all the victims of human trafficking out there: We have not forgotten you, don’t give up, help is on the way,” Brewer said. “To the criminal traffickers, I say: Your days are numbered.”
Incidentally, the mayor of Phoenix, Greg Stanton announced a new Sex Trafficking Task Force last month (http://1.usa.gov/1cg2qgE) which has a very formidable list of participants. Its first public meeting is Thursday morning.
Brewer also asked the legislature to approve a bill that would boost competitiveness in the technology and manufacturing sectors and bring high paying jobs. She criticized an existing state sales tax that creates revenue from power used by Arizona manufacturers, saying that it puts them and potential newcomers at a disadvantage.
Brewer also said she will call on the state legislature to renew support for the Military Installation Fund, which is used to mitigate property encroachment and preserve military land-use projects without placing financial burden on Arizona’s private property owners. Brewer also said she will direct the Military Affairs Commission to develop a strategic plan for sustaining their missions.
The governor also reiterated last week’s news about a pending resolution to the decades-old Arnold v. Sarn litigation.
“For more than three decades, Arizona has been forced to live under court direction because we failed our seriously mentally ill population. As governor, I insisted that we properly fund and fundamentally reform behavioral health into a holistic, community-based system,” Brewer said. “This win-win solution allows the seriously mentally ill to participate in the society in a more meaningful way, and to receive the services and care they require and deserve. We also introduced metrics to evaluate the system and hold it accountable.”
The resolution still requires approval by a court, she said.
“While this watershed agreement ends more than 30 years of litigation, it is structured so that if a future governor or legislature fails to live up to its terms, plaintiffs will be able to reopen the case,” Brewer warned.
Following Brewer’s speech this afternoon, Arizona House Democrats released a statement penned by the senate and house and minority leaders.
“Governor Brewer proposed structural changes to CPS, and while I believe that she should be more closely scrutinizing this program, her proposal lacks details,” House minority leader Chad Campbell said. “We should be working in a more bipartisan way to develop the reforms necessary to ensure children in our state are safe.”
Campbell also called for renewed budget surpluses to be applied to those portions of the budget that were slashed during the downturn.
“The governor also talked about our budget surplus. Much of that was achieved through devastating cuts to education and other vital services. We can’t truly claim a comeback until we restore funding for K-12 education,” Campbell said.
Senate minority leader Anna Tovar said that Arizona works best when there is collaboration, as exemplified by last year’s bipartisan efforts to pass a responsible budget, expand Medicaid, and begin restoring K-12 funding.
“We must keep moving Arizona forward and we will continue working to provide our teachers and students with the resources they need to succeed, to strengthen our economy and to improve our state's neglected transportation infrastructure,” she said. “We must also ensure that any plan to reform CPS has the proper resources, transparency, accountability and leadership to be effective.”
Meanwhile, outside of the legislative hall, all sorts of interesting dialog and colorful people were gathered in the capital’s courtyard this morning, including demonstrations from Safer Arizona, Latino Legal Immigrants Tea Party Patriots, The Center for Arizona Policy, Citizens for a Better Arizona, NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and at least a dozen other women’s health organizations.
More such civil discourse is expected both inside and outside of the walls of the capital throughout the rest of this week, as the second session of the 51st Arizona legislature moves forward.
Chris G. Braswell is the managing editor of Modern Times Magazine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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