With the passage of the CARES Act back in March, much-needed aid to counties, cities, and towns was included in the legislation so they could withstand the health and economic fallout from the Coronavirus (COVID 19).
Because of population size, the federal government directly funded Phoenix, Tucson, and Mesa. Maricopa and Pima counties also directly received monies from the federal government.
The rest of the funds were assigned to Governor Ducey to distribute which he did at the end of May.
Unfortunately, as AZ Central reported on June 12, 2020, for the residents not living in Phoenix, Tucson, and Mesa, Doug Ducey screwed you.
While the people living in Arizona’s three populous cities received $174.00 per person, the rest of the state, thanks to Governor Ducey’s math were allotted $115.00 per individual.
For example, Flagstaff was meant to receive a little over 13 million dollars in CARES Act COVID 19 aid. It received a little under nine.
Tempe was supposed to get a little over 34 million dollars. A little over 22 million went into its coffers.
The town of Maricopa was supposed to be awarded about nine million dollars. It received about five.
Casa Grande was designated to receive a little over ten million dollars. It was given just under seven.
Eloy, Arizona was supposed to get about $3.5 million. It was awarded approximately $2.2 million.
Tolleson Arizona was meant to get about $1.3 million in COVID aid. Instead, it received about $400,000 less.
The town of Clarkdale was slated to receive close to $800,000 in aid. It received just over $500,000.
Please click here to see what funds were distributed to where you live
Mr. Ducey’s reasoning for not giving the other counties, cities, and towns the same dollar amount per resident as the Feds did when they directly funded Phoenix, Tucson, Mesa, and Maricopa and Pima County’s: To add more to the state general fund coffers.
Reaction to Governor Ducey’s allocations to Arizona counties, towns, and cities not named Maricopa, Pima, Phoenix, Tucson, or Mesa has been universally negative.
Flagstaff Mayor (and a candidate for an Arizona State House seat in Legislative District Six) Coral Evans said, in request to comment from Blog for Arizona:
“Small towns in AZ only got $0.66 for every $1.00 in aid that went to Phoenix and we would like to know why we’re worth less.”
“It’s outrageous that Maricopa County got ten times the funding that went to small towns outside the great state of Maricopa and the legislature has done nothing to help rural communities.”
Mayor Evans expanded her thoughts on a social media posting, writing:
“I am from a small town, I grew up in Northern Arizona, as your legislator I won’t tolerate this our libraries, our firefighters, our kids are worth just as much as those in Maricopa County.”
Tolleson Mayor (and Corporation Commission Candidate) Anna Tovar commented in the AZ Central piece that the funding given to Tolleson was a:
“Good start” but added that “it’s not enough. Cities and towns across Arizona are trying to respond and provide vital services to keep people safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19,” “We definitely need the money.”
Representative Ruben Gallego also relayed to AZ Central:
‘States are “supposed to be a pass-through” and not hold back money for their own use. “Everyone is concerned about defunding police, but it looks like Gov. Ducey is going to defund police in these small communities by not giving them their money,”
Legislative Four House and Senate members (House Democratic Leader Charlene Fernandez, State Representative Dr. Geraldine Peten, and State Senator Lisa Otondo) sent a letter to Governor Ducey on Friday.
They expressed their concerns with Ducey’s decision, writing in part:
“The $2.8 billion in CARES Act funding that Congress directed to cities, towns, and counties was meant as a lifeline to help preserve essential municipal services like first responders, water and aid to those experiencing homelessness and other vulnerable communities whose lives have been turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“While Arizona’s three largest cities and two largest counties were sent CARES Act funds directly – calculated on their populations – you were given the responsibility to distribute the remaining funds to rural and suburban communities and smaller counties, also calculated by population. It was with a mixture of distress and confusion to learn that you have systematically withheld nearly $400 million of CARES Act funds from hard-hit towns, cities, and counties.”
“In your explanations to the media, your spokesman says ” “We met with mayors and local leaders on what their priorities were in constructing this.” Did any of those mayors ask you to withhold hundreds of thousands and in some cases millions of dollars of aid from their communities? It’s impossible to believe that rural municipal leaders were okay with Phoenix, Mesa, and Tucson receiving $174 per person while you arbitrarily allocated only $115 per resident to theirs….”
“…..As Moses said to the Pharaoh, “Let my people go!” Give the rural and suburban communities of your state the support and resources they need to fight back this pandemic and save lives and jobs.”
Please click below to read the entire letter.
Responding to request for comment from Blog for Arizona, local candidates running for office also expressed worry about Mr. Ducey’s decision.
Robyn Prud’homme-Bauer, a candidate running for the Mayor’s office in Clarkdale wrote:
“Whether you live in a large city or a rural town, like my town – Clarkdale, all of us in Arizona have sacrificed during this COVID-19 pandemic to help keep our communities be safe and our neighbors healthy and alive. The loss of town revenues because of the pandemic forcing businesses closed and residents to stay at home has been dramatic on Clarkdale.”
“It is shocking, Governor Ducey felt the majority of our towns, cities and counties were not worthy of receiving even the recommended amount of funds from the Cares Act or at least equally as much as very large cities. It is even more disheartening to have the funds go to the states’ general fund, which had a large rainy-day fund. Many towns and cities do not have those resources to rely on.”
“Sharing these funds equitably with all of the towns and cities would have gone a long way to ease the financial blow. Our towns and cities along with our frontline pandemic workers are the critical support network needed by our residents during this crisis. Governor Ducey should relook at this distribution and give all towns, cities, and counties the amount due to them!”
Judy Stahl, a State House Candidate for Legislative District One stated:
“The $395 million that Governor Ducey took from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security CARES Act package to pad the state’s general fund must be restored and distributed to its rightful recipients. The CARES Act was passed specifically to help state and local governments offset the economic distress caused by the coronavirus. For Governor Ducey to use those monies to shore up the state’s general fund is flat out unconscionable and harmful to the many communities that have been denied this critical financial assistance. Arizona’s general fund needs boosting because of inequitable tax policies and loopholes, and Governor Ducey needs to address those issues instead of siphoning funds from the CARES Act and depriving so many communities of desperately needed aid in this time of crises. As a state legislator, I will work to revise existing tax legislation so that Arizona generates adequate revenue and establishes a foundation for state solvency without burdening working families and communities. Governor Ducey has an obligation to immediately disburse all Cares funds as the Act intended.”
Legislative District Eight State House Candidate Sharon Girard relayed:
“I understand that Ducey has finally released money from the CARES act to Pinal county to be used for our unincorporated areas. Pinal county has dropped the lawsuit which they stated was against the federal government, not the Governor. Small businesses may now apply to request up to $15,000, to be used for rental assistance and utilities. But when the Governor distributes, on the whole, less money to smaller communities, it is not fair during tough times. My district only has small communities and unincorporated towns. Most are cities with under 50,000 residents. This money is important to them. Much of my district is rural and suburban. We are a growing area, and this puts us at a disadvantage because we have no large city at the core of my district. This is not the time to play big city favorites and pit large against small communities. Everyone should get the same amount of money per capita. Equal distribution levels the playing field so each community gets needed funds to recover and grow stronger.”
The two Democrats vying for the nomination to contest Vince Leach (more on him in a separate article) and win the LD 11 State Senate Seat offered their views.
Gunnery Sergeant JoAnna Mendoza stated:
“Unfortunately, I’m not surprised that rural communities were allocated less money by Governor Ducey. For as long as I can remember, there has been an underlying perception that rural communities are less important than bigger cities. This is just one more example of how we continue to get the short end of the stick rather than our fair share. Our communities are hurting and need pandemic relief support. We deserve to be treated equally and fairly in this process. The fact that Governor Ducey hasn’t provided a full framework for how and why funds have been distributed is even more alarming and calls into question the entire process. The lack of funding to small towns and rural communities can seriously delay the recovery of small businesses and leave social services and other community programs without adequate funding to meet the needs of our residents. We expect our elected officials to stand up for all of the people they are elected to serve. It’s disappointing that this isn’t the case. I was happy to see that the Pinal County Board of Supervisors is considering filing a lawsuit for equal distribution of COVID-19 aid.”
Linda Patterson wrote:
“The CARES ACT was passed by Congress last Spring, providing a 1.86 Billion Relief Package to Arizona to mitigate the problems caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic. While other states released these funds immediately, Ducey suspiciously announced on May 28, that he would be allocating $441 million of those funds to cities and counties throughout Arizona at a later date.”
“That money, named the AZCares Fund, was meant to be used for smaller and mid-sized towns and counties. At that time Ducey indicated would be only getting a slice of the 1.86 billion because it was not clear what the future would hold, and he did not want the state to prematurely dole out all of its aid. (The largest cities and counties – Phoenix, Tucson, Mesa, Maricopa County, and Pima County received direct funds from the federal government but cities, counties, and towns with less than 50,000 residents were not eligible for direct funding.) Accordingly, communities in Legislative District 11 have been waiting for quite some time to receive their share of the $441 million dollars Ducey promised.”
“Last week, additional information surfaced, and it was disappointing. We discovered these funds are not only late but that they would be unfairly and unevenly distributed! In specific, the larger communities received $174 per person while Ducey allocated only $115 per resident in the smaller ones. Needless to say, officials from the smaller communities and counties are crying foul!”
“Some of the hardest-hit communities with alarming COVID-19 numbers have been in these smaller and medium-sized communities – many of them in Legislative District 11. Where are our elected legislators who need to be advocating for our residents? Silent. Out of Touch. Failing to act. Ignoring our needs!”
“Who is representing YOU? Who is taking care of those of us who are working hard to make ends meet under trying circumstances? Certainly not our elected Republican legislators. They continue to kick the can down the road, counting on us not to hold them accountable.”
Coral Evans summed it up well for everyone who expressed an opinion on the Governors robbing Peter to pay Paul accounting maneuver when she wrote:
“….Our libraries, our firefighters, our kids are worth just as much as those in Maricopa County.”
The person who teaches elementary school children in Clarkdale is just as important as the one in Mesa.
The firefighter who has to put out forest fires near Flagstaff is just as vital to his or her community than the firefighter who resides in Tucson.
The police officer who risks his or her life every day patrolling in Eloy is just as essential as the one in Phoenix.
Small counties, cities, and towns, either urban, suburban, or rural, are just as important and vital to the state as the major metropolises.
They should not be shortchanged in the middle of a pandemic.
Governor Ducey needs to reconsider what he has done and give these counties, cities, and towns the funds they need to cope with the health, safety, and economic repercussions of COVID 19.
He needs to do it now.