Goldwater Institute Applauds Pima County for Listening to Constituents and Addressing Homeless Situation

Austin VanDerHeyden, the Municipal Affairs Liason for the Arizona-based Goldwater Institute (GI), applauds Pima County for listening to its constituents and taking steps to address the homelessness crisis in the City of Tucson.

“Pima County has taken an encouraging first step by hearing its constituents’ concerns and by passing – in unanimous and bipartisan fashion – several motions to address the homelessness crisis. Now, Pima County officials must ensure they follow through on the action they’ve pledged to take to protect law-abiding citizens’ rights by enforcing the law. Moreover, it’s time for the Tucson City Council to step up, hold a similar meeting, and follow in Pima County’s footsteps,” said VanDerHeyden in a statement emailed to the Arizona Sun Times.

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Georgia Launches $250 Million Neighborhood Improvement Program Using COVID-19 Relief Funds

Georgia officials plan to use federal COVID relief money to fund improvements to sidewalks, parks and “healthy food access.”

The state intends to use American Rescue Plan dollars to fund the $250 million “Improving Neighborhood Outcomes in Disproportionately Impacted Communities” grant program.

The state will award up to $2 million per qualified project. State officials say the program will lower levels of mortality and illness.

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Report Says Tennessee Schools Spent COVID-19 Funds on Unrelated Projects

A new report by the Beacon Center of Tennessee says that $4 billion worth of federal COVID-19 relief funding allocated to Tennessee’s school systems was largely spent on items unrelated to COVID-19. 

“The data suggests that Tennessee public schools have budgeted or spent millions of dollars on areas that had little to nothing to do with COVID or student performance,” said Beacon Research Associate and report author Jason Edmonds. “School districts across the state budgeted tens of millions of dollars for ‘indirect costs’ without any further explanation and also funded pet projects such as walk-in coolers and retractable bleachers.”

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Georgia Issues More than $415 Million in Federal COVID-19 Relief Funds for Nonprofit Recovery

Georgia is doling out more than $415 million in federal relief money as grants to help nonprofits recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The money, which goes to more than 30 recipients, is from the American Rescue Plan’s Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds.

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Ohio Policy Group Critical of Government-Owned Broadband Networks

Two Ohio counties plan to use more than $60 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds to develop broadband networks, a move a policy group believes could eventually be costly to taxpayers.

The Buckeye Institute cautioned communities against starting or expanding government-owned broadband networks that would likely lead to eventual expenses for upgrades, maintenance and service after federal money is gone.

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Arizona’s Public Universities Demanding Tuition Increases Despite Slowly Recovering Economy

The three public universities in Arizona — Arizona State University, University of Arizona, and Northern Arizona University — are demanding tuition increases. They are proposing increases of 2% to 5.6%. A committee of the Board of Regents will vote on the hikes on April 7. 

The universities cite inflation as the reason for the increase, with NAU President José Luis Cruz Rivera asserting the increase “accounts for less than half of current inflationary costs.” 

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Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont: 150 Student Proposals Submitted for COVID Relief Funding Initiative

Connecticut students will have a say in how $1.5 million in COVID-19 relief funds will be spent.

Gov. Ned Lamont announced that 150 proposals from 54 school districts were selected as part of the Voice4Change initiative that empowered high school students to use critical thinking to solve real-world issues.

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Freedom Foundation Uncovers COVID-19 Relief Fraud by Ohio Labor Unions

Maxford Nelson of the Freedom Foundation

A press release from the Washington, D.C. based Freedom Foundations says that a union for Ohio’s retired teachers improperly received COVID-19 relief funds for which they were ineligible. 

“The Ohio Retired Teachers Association alone received over $36,000 in COVID funds,” that press release said. 

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Virginia School District Denies That Voicemail Says ‘Woke Special Services’

Fairfax County Public Schools bus in parking lot

Fairfax County Public Schools’ (FCPS) in Virginia denied that one of its departments calls itself “woke” in an automated voice message, Fox News reported Friday.

“Sorry, woke special services 2 email is not available, record your message at the tone,” the Department of Special Services automated voicemail appeared to say. FCPS said the message actually said “Wok” for one of their administrative centers, Willow Oaks, Fox News reported.

The Department of Special Services organizes into four different offices which includes help with psychology services, student safety and wellness, social work and special education.

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Minnesota Schools Spend Big on Equity Consultants

School bus

Taxpayer-funded school districts across the state have spent huge sums of money hiring outside consultants to conduct “equity audits” and related work, in some cases using COVID-19 relief funds to cover the costs.

The primary beneficiaries of this scheme include Equity Alliance Minnesota and the Minnesota Education Equity Partnership, a group managed by a current state legislator.

In the Sartell-St. Stephen School District, school administrators entered into an $80,000 contract with Equity Alliance Minnesota last October, according to a copy of the contract recently obtained by a group of concerned parents.

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