How COVID-19 Affected Arizona’s Economy

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

The U.S. economy reported its worst quarterly decline in modern history during the COVID-19 pandemic, with gross domestic product shrinking at an annual rate of 31.4% in the second quarter. The economy bounced back in the third quarter, but efforts to contain the virus’s spread throughout 2020 still resulted in a 3.5% annual economic contraction in the United States.

Arriving on the heels of a historic period of growth, COVID-19 brought about a decline in gross domestic product in every state in the country. However, no two state economies are alike, and partially as a result, some states were hit far harder than others.

Arizona’s 0.9% economic contraction in 2020 ranks as the third smallest among states. While sectors like entertainment and travel were hit hard due to pandemic-related shutdowns, other industries, like agriculture, information, and utilities thrived. During a period of mass layoffs across multiple industries, employment in Arizona’s utilities sector expanded by 9.4%, more than any other industry in the state and the sector’s strongest job growth in the country.

Due in part to strong job growth in the state’s utilities sector, overall employment fell by just 3.1% in Arizona in 2020, well below the 5.8% employment decline nationwide that year.

States are ranked based on the percentage change in real GDP from 2019 to 2020. Data on GDP and industry-specific real GDP came from the BEA. Data on average annual employment and the seasonally adjusted monthly unemployment rate each came from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Rank State Change in GDP, 2020 (%) April 2021 unemployment (%) Change in nonfarm employment, 2020 (%)
1 Hawaii -8.0 8.5 -9.4
2 Wyoming -7.0 5.4 -4.1
3 Oklahoma -6.1 4.3 -4.9
4 New York -5.9 8.2 -10.3
5 West Virginia -5.5 5.8 -6.6
6 Louisiana -5.5 7.3 -1.8
7 Vermont -5.4 2.9 -9.3
8 Michigan -5.4 4.9 -5.8
9 Alaska -4.9 6.7 -8.7
10 Tennessee -4.9 5.0 -17.5
11 New Hampshire -4.7 2.8 -6.7
12 Nevada -4.6 8.0 -10.4
13 Rhode Island -4.5 6.3 -8.8
14 Wisconsin -4.5 3.9 -6.3
15 Pennsylvania -4.4 7.4 1.9
16 Maine -4.1 4.8 -6.4
17 Connecticut -4.1 8.1 -7.7
18 New Jersey -4.1 7.5 -8.4
19 South Carolina -4.1 5.0 -5.1
20 Illinois -4.0 7.1 -7.1
21 Ohio -4.0 4.7 -6.1
22 Delaware -3.9 6.4 -6.0
23 Massachusetts -3.8 6.5 -9.0
24 Minnesota -3.7 4.1 -6.9
25 Kentucky -3.7 4.7 -5.6
26 Missouri -3.6 4.1 -4.8
27 North Dakota -3.5 4.2 -6.7
28 Texas -3.5 6.7 -4.3
29 New Mexico -3.1 8.2 -6.7
30 Indiana -3.1 3.9 -5.5
31 Montana -3.0 3.7 -3.1
32 Kansas -3.0 3.5 -4.6
33 Florida -2.9 4.8 -5.2
34 Oregon -2.8 6.0 -6.6
35 Mississippi -2.8 6.2 -4.3
36 California -2.8 8.3 -7.4
37 Alabama -2.7 3.6 -4.3
38 Maryland -2.6 6.2 -6.8
39 Arkansas -2.6 4.4 -3.0
40 Georgia -2.5 4.3 -4.6
41 North Carolina -2.5 5.0 -4.3
42 Virginia -2.5 4.7 -5.0
43 Iowa -2.3 3.8 -5.1
44 Nebraska -2.1 2.8 -3.6
45 South Dakota -1.7 2.8 -3.4
46 Colorado -1.5 6.4 -5.2
47 Idaho -1.1 3.1 -0.7
48 Arizona -0.9 6.7 -3.1
49 Washington -0.7 5.5 -5.3
50 Utah -0.1 2.8 -1.6

*****

This article was published on June 16, 2021 and is reproduced with permission from The Center Square.

Arizona News – June 18, 2021

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Prickly Pear will provide current, linked articles about Arizona consistent with our Mission Statement to ‘inform, educate and advocate’. We are an Arizona based website and believe this information should be available to all of our statewide readers.

Giaritelli: ICE to place migrant families in hotel to avoid releasing onto Arizona streets
Federal immigration officials in Arizona plan to place in a hotel migrant families who have illegally come across the U.S.-Mexico border as part of an effort to avoid openly releasing people onto the street, according to a border mayor. […] Yuma Mayor Doug Nicholls criticized the plan in a phone call Tuesday, saying he believes the plan to rely on a hotel “actually encourages” more people to make the journey to the U.S. and cross the border because migrants “know how they’re going to be released to an American hotel where they get room service and other — whatever’s going on.” […] This latest hotel that ICE is moving families into in Arizona is being funded by an $87 million contract that ICE gave to Family Endeavors in March. The contract was awarded without a competitive bidding process and was supposed to house 1,200 people across seven hotels in preselected cities in Arizona and Texas. Yuma was not on the list, and ICE has not shared why Family Endeavors is veering from its plan.
Read more at Washington Examiner.

Ducey, lawmakers stop university COVID-19 vaccine mandate

How COVID-19 Affected Arizona’s Economy

Arizona Audit: Paper Evaluation Will Finish Next Week – The Historic Audit Is Concluding!

Dr. Kelli Ward: Arizona Case on Democrat Ballot Harvesting Will Be Decided by Supreme Court this Month – “We Are Hoping for a Victory” (VIDEO)

Feds: Illegal immigration continued to worsen in May

Conflict Of Interest: Arizona Lawmakers To Call For Sen. Mark Kelly To Recuse From ATF Vote Over Giffords Ties

Arizonans Need To Call Rep. David Cook And Demand Tax Relief

DeSantis Steps Up With Officers To Serve Arizona And Texas, Cochise County Attorney Concerned About Costs, Propriety

Arizona House Splits On Juneteenth National Independence Day Bill

MUST SEE: AZ State Senator Throws Down On Election Audit

Estimated Reading Time: < 1 minute

Arizona, Texas Governors Ask States To Send Law Enforcement To Border

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott want other states to send police officers to aid their law enforcement agencies and federal immigration officials in policing the nation’s southern border.

In a letter from both governors, Ducey and Abbott wrote the surge in immigration from Mexico and Central American states is at a “crisis” level and they need more bodies to aid in patrolling.

“Texas and Arizona have stepped up to secure the border in the federal government’s absence, and now the Emergency Management Assistance Compact gives your State a chance to stand strong with us,” the letter read.
Ducey has criticized President Joe Biden for creating a crisis-level surge in immigration at the border. The White House has yet to release a statement in reaction to the letter.

The two border-state governors have collaborated on this matter in the past. Abbott and Ducey wrote in an April op-ed that Biden’s soft stance on immigration has U.S. Border Patrol overwhelmed.

“The president and Vice President Harris campaigned on a platform of relaxed border security,” the two wrote. “These actions have led to the unprecedented surge of migrants who are overwhelming the border.”

The governors said stemming the flow of undocumented immigrants will go far in the fight to keep the deadly drug fentanyl off the streets. Since its inception in 2015, the Arizona’s Border Strike Force has intercepted 284 pounds of the drug from smugglers attempting to bring it into the country.

Law enforcement from other states would provide additional manpower to the two states, they wrote in the letter.

A spokesperson for Ducey said his office has not received any responses.

The governor issued a declaration of emergency April 20 and announced he was deploying the Arizona National Guard to the state’s southern border. The move received praise from both sides of the aisle.

Harris, who Biden has tapped to lead the immigration surge response, traveled to some of the Central American countries that were the source of migrants. She implored would-be asylum seekers in Guatemala on Monday, “Do not come.” Her statement was met with criticism from U.S. progressives.

*****

This article was published on June 11, 2021 and is reproduced with permission from The Center Square.

Ducey Declares Emergency Over Wildfires

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is freeing up extra money to aid in the fight against two large fires that have left tens of thousands of acres charred.

Ducey issued two emergency declarations Wednesday because of the Telegraph and Mescal fires, making up to $400,000 available for increased response. Ducey’s office has requested additional federal funds to help in the effort.

The Telegraph fire has become one of the largest in state history, starting on Friday between Superior and Miami in eastern Arizona. As of 10:30 a.m., the blaze has consumed 80,000 acres and is 21% contained, according to the National Wildfire Coordinating Group. Ducey’s office said multiple evacuations had been ordered, and road closures are in place.

The fire consumed the family home of Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers on Tuesday, officials with his office confirmed. The property was not his primary residence.

Rep. David Cook, R-Globe, has been recording video of the firefighting effort visible from his driveway to the north of the flames. Cook’s community had been ordered to evacuate.

Just to the east, the Mescal fire was 23% contained as of 10 am Wednesday but not before burning more than 70,000 acres of public and private land on the western edge of the San Carlos reservation south of Cutter. While residents near the fire had evacuated, officials said they’ve been allowed to return.

“Firefighters and safety officials have been working around the clock to protect Arizonans, and we need to make sure they have the support they need to successfully fight the wildfires in Pinal and Gila Counties,” Ducey said. “I issued Declarations of Emergency so those responders will have the necessary resources to protect people, pets and property – and we will continue to work closely with local officials to ensure the needs of those communities are met. Arizonans must take the threat of wildfires seriously and follow all safety precautions during these dry months, including following evacuation orders.”

*****

This article was published on June 10, 2021 and is reproduced with permission from The Center Square.

 

 

Arizona News – June 11, 2011

Estimated Reading Time: < 1 minute

The Prickly Pear will provide current, linked articles about Arizona consistent with our Mission Statement to ‘inform, educate and advocate’. We are an Arizona based website and believe this information should be available to all of our statewide readers.

BREAKING: FREIGHT TRAIN OF STATE DELEGATIONS COMING FRIDAY — 9 States Will Visit AZ Audit Center – ONLY ONE PALLET LEFT TO COUNT

Hand Count Resumes In Senate Election Audit While Political Maneuvering Continues

Biden Administration Paying $352 Per Bed To House Migrants In Scottsdale Each Day

Kelly Accused Of Dodging Filibuster Question

Arizona Democratic Party Passes End The Filibuster Resolution

Legislature’s Slim Republican Majority Makes Each Vote More Valuable, And Expensive

Parent Discovers Peoria Unified Staff Deception In Critical Race Theory-Based Course Adoption

Gosar Hopes To Terminate Covid-19 Emergency Declaration

Arizona News – June 15, 2021

Estimated Reading Time: < 1 minute

The Prickly Pear will provide current, linked articles about Arizona consistent with our Mission Statement to ‘inform, educate and advocate’. We are an Arizona based website and believe this information should be available to all of our statewide readers.

AZ Audit: Hand Recount Will be COMPLETE TODAY – Senate President Karen Fann and Wyoming Officials Tour Floor – Rumblings of Future State Audits

Feds: Illegal immigration continued to worsen in May

Former Phoenix Reporter Who Broke Bill Clinton Loretta Lynch Tarmac Meeting Dead In Apparent Suicide

Ducey, Abbott Request Urgently Needed Support For Border Security

Ducey Alleges “Insufficient Federal Oversight” Puts Migrant Children At Risk

Attorney General Says White House Is Using Arizona As A Petri Dish

Arizona Wins “Gold Shovel” Award

Arizona-run COVID-19 Vaccination Sites Closing June 28

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

State-run COVID-19 vaccination sites are closing by June 28 in Arizona, as the state’s focus shifts to increasing community-based vaccination options such as pharmacies, pop-up clinics, and doctors’ offices.

State-run vaccination sites have administered 1.6 million doses of the vaccine to about 900,000 Arizonans, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS).

“Starting with our 24/7 operation at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, these sites established a national model for getting limited doses of vaccine into the community rapidly and efficiently,” ADHS Director Dr. Cara Christ said in a statement on Thursday.

June 5 will be the last day for Arizonans to receive their first dose of the vaccine and schedule a second dose before the closing date. The ADHS encouraged those who would like to receive both vaccine doses at a state-run site to visit by then. First doses will still be administered after June 5, but patients will be given the information of other locations to receive the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

Appointment information is on the ADHS website.

State-run sites have already begun to decrease hours and days of operation to begin the transition to neighborhood vaccination options.

“At the height of demand, state-run sites administered nearly 168,000 doses in a single week. Now, even with access to the Pfizer vaccine expanded to children ages 12 to 15, doses administered at state-run sites decreased to 13,000-50,000 per week during the month of May, highlighting the need to shift to community-based options,” the statement read.

As of Thursday, 5.9 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to 3.3 million individuals, including 2.8 million who are fully vaccinated, according to the ADHS. Close to 47% of Arizona’s total population has received at least the first dose of the vaccine, with 39% of Arizonans fully vaccinated.

The final site, Gila River Arena in Glendale, will close on June 28. The Glendale site administered a record-breaking number of vaccines since it opened on June 11. They administered 12,495 doses in one day, earning the site a virtual visit from the President and Vice President.

We’re in a much different position today than we were early in the year, with enough vaccines available throughout Arizona for virtually anyone to get vaccinated when they want close to home,” Christ said.

*****

This article was published on June 7, 2021 and reproduced with permission from The Center Square.

Can a Teacher Object to a Proposed School District Policy? Not in Loudoun County

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Editor’s Note:   On June 9, a Virginia court ordered that Tanner Cross be reinstated.  It was a big win for First Amendment/free speech by the Scottsdale-based Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).

Thankfully, Tanner’s stand in court did ultimately pay off. Today, the court ruled that Tanner’s constitutional rights were likely violated and ordered the school to reinstate Tanner while the lawsuit continues:

Upholding constitutional rights serves the public interest. Affirming the unconstitutional action taken against [Tanner] which has silenced others from speaking publicly on this issue, serves the public interest. The public’s knowledge that [Tanner’s] speech was permissible, is encouraged and is free from governmental oppression serves the public interest. Governmental bodies being held in check for violating a citizen’s constitutional rights, serves the public interest.

With this ruling, the court sent a clear message to the school board: “You are not above the law.”

Teachers have First Amendment rights to express their views along with everyone else, and Loudoun County Public Schools must respect that. In fact, as public officials, those on the school board have a duty to respect that.

“I expected more from a public school here in the United States, where our right to speak freely is protected under the First Amendment,” Tanner said at the rally.

As he should. We should all expect more of our elected government officials. Thankfully, the court held them to the standard the law requires.

*****

Imagine you’re at a school board meeting discussing changes to school district policy, and one of the teachers speaks up. He thoughtfully voices some concerns.

How would you react? Even if you disagree, would you appreciate the fact that he is thinking deeply about issues that impact your student? I know I would.

Unfortunately, that’s not what happened when Tanner Cross, an elementary school teacher in Loudoun County Public Schools in Virginia, respectfully voiced his objections to two proposed school policies during the public comment period of a school board meeting. He also shared his belief—and the scientific fact—that there are two biological sexes, which can’t be changed.
Less than 48 hours later, Tanner was suspended. Far from appreciating Tanner’s input as an educator, school officials punished him for speaking up.

But it is Tanner’s right—and every American’s right, for that matter—to speak their opinion at a public meeting. And it’s unconstitutional for the school district to punish Tanner for exercising that right.

That’s why Alliance Defending Freedom sent a letter to Loudoun County Public Schools last week on Tanner’s behalf.

In response, the school doubled down, stating that it intends to stand by its decision.

And today ADF filed a lawsuit against school district officials to hold them accountable for their unconstitutional actions.

So, what is so troublesome about these proposed policies?

The policies would force teachers to violate their beliefs by requiring them to address “gender-expansive or transgender students” with their chosen pronouns rather than the ones consistent with their biological sex. In other words, these policies would force teachers to lie to students and embrace an ideology that ultimately could harm them.

And as Dr. Stephen B. Levine, a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, wrote in an expert declaration to the court in a separate ADF case:

Putting a child or adolescent on a pathway towards life as a transgender person puts that individual at risk of a wide range of long-term or even life-long harms, including: sterilization (whether chemical or surgical) and associated regret and sense of loss… physical health risks associated with exposure to elevated levels of cross-sex hormones; surgical complications and life-long after-care; alienation of family relationships; inability to form healthy romantic relationships and attract a desirable mate; elevated mental health risks.

That’s what Loudoun County Public Schools is asking of its teachers: to encourage children to walk down a likely dangerous path of gender confusion.

So, you can understand why Tanner doesn’t feel comfortable with that.

At the school board meeting, Tanner respectfully explained his concern for students who struggle with gender dysphoria but also his concern about being forced to violate his beliefs. As a Christian, he believes that God created two sexes—male and female—and that this biological reality can’t be changed. Tanner also believes it would be harmful to his students to promote an ideology that says otherwise.

The bottom line is that the school district can’t use teachers as a mouthpiece to promote a political agenda that violates their beliefs. But that is exactly what it is trying to do. And when Tanner used his constitutional right to speak up against the policy, officials punished him, propping him up as an example and sending the message that teachers must toe the ideological line or face the consequences.

It must stop.

The debate over the school’s policy is about much more than pronouns. It’s about scientific truth. It’s whether the government can force an individual to endorse an ideology that conflicts with his beliefs.

And Tanner’s case is about something even more important: it’s about whether we have the right to voice dissenting opinions to our elected officials at all. Not everyone will agree with Tanner about what the school’s policy should be. But, in a free society, everyone must have the right to make their case to their elected officials about what the policy should be.

There’s a lot at stake.

*****
This article was published on June 1, 2021 and is reproduced with permission from the Alliance Defending Freedom, based in Scottsdale, Arizona

Lone Republican Derails Arizona Flat Income Tax Proposal

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

Arizona Republicans weren’t able to convince one defecting member of their caucus to vote in favor of their budget that scraps the state’s progressive income tax brackets for one flat rate.

Rep. David Cook, a Globe Republican, voted against all Republican-sponsored amendments to budget bills Monday that others in his party had agreed on, leaving the bills at a 30-30 stalemate.

Cook has been vocal about the proposed flat tax, saying it cuts taxes too low when the state should pay down debt or repurchase buildings the state sold and now are leasing.

House Majority Leader Ben Toma, R-Peoria, deflected Cook’s assertions the state would end up in dire fiscal straits just as Kansas did when it eliminated its state income tax.

Toma said Arizona’s growth is expected regardless of whether the state flattens its income tax with his legislation, something Kansas couldn’t say.

Taking offense to Toma’s inference that Cook opposed the theory in general, he asked, “You don’t think I don’t want to cut taxes?”

Toma replied, “I think we’re about to find out.”

Cook’s subsequent votes against the budgetary proposals mean the GOP will either have to capitulate and propose a smaller cut or convince a Democrat to vote for their bills.

If enacted, the GOP-sponsored budget would gradually lower the state’s four tax brackets to a single 2.5%. It also would cap the total tax rate at 4.5%, including the 3.5% tax from Proposition 208, which affects single filers making more than $250,000 and $500,000 for those filing jointly.

The current lowest income tax rate is 2.59% for income below $27,272. If Prop. 208 survives legal scrutiny, the combined top marginal income tax rate would increase to 8%, putting Arizona among the 10 highest marginal rates in the country.

Democrats, in the minority by one member, were unified in their opposition to the $1.5 billion tax cut.

“We can never be Texas and Nevada unless we have gambling all over the state or we strike oil,” House Minority Leader Charlene Fernandez, D-Yuma, said. “We are Arizona, and we should start listening to our Arizona citizens.”

They criticized Republicans for amending bills late at night and giving legislators a short time to read the proposed changes before voting on them.

Having failed to pass any of their proposed budgetary items, lawmakers adjourned until Thursday, the deadline they had given themselves to send a budget to Gov. Doug Ducey. Lawmakers have until the end of June before the budget they’re debating goes into effect, as is required in the state constitution.

If they cannot agree and send a set of bills to Ducey, the state will enter into nearly uncharted territory. Illinois lawmakers and former Gov. Bruce Rauner once locked horns for nearly two years over the budget, resulting in Democrats raising taxes after seeing the state’s reserve funding depleted and forming a backlog of bills worth billions of dollars.

*****

This article was published on June 8, 2021 and is reproduced with permission from The Center Square.