Arizona is one of 22 states facing a budget shortfall for fiscal year 2016 (surprise, most of them have Republican governors and/or legislatures) and in tried and true tradition, the Grand Canyon State’s billion-dollar budget hole is going to be plugged by tossing in those awful Poors.
Facing a $1 billion budget deficit, Arizona’s Republican-led Legislature has reduced the lifetime limit for welfare recipients to the shortest window in the nation.
Low-income families on welfare will now have their benefits cut off after just 12 months.
As a result, the Arizona Department of Economic Security will drop at least 1,600 families — including more than 2,700 children — from the state’s federally funded welfare program on July 1, 2016.
The cuts of at least $4 million reflect a prevailing mood among the lawmakers in control in Arizona that welfare, Medicaid and other public assistance programs are crutches that keep the poor from getting back on their feet and achieving their potential.
“I tell my kids all the time that the decisions we make have rewards or consequences, and if I don’t ever let them face those consequences, they can’t get back on the path to rewards,” Republican Sen. Kelli Ward, R-Lake Havasu City, said during debate on the budget. “As a society, we are encouraging people at times to make poor decisions and then we reward them.”
I wonder which red state will be the first to eliminate TANF altogether, since we’re busy freeing the Poors from their plight of dependency. Also, $4 million in saving achieved, and $996 million to go. Certainly Arizona can find some more ways to punish people for the crime of being impoverished in a red state.
Cutting off these benefits after just one year isn’t fair, said Jessica Lopez, 23, who gave birth to her son while living in a domestic violence shelter and has struggled to hold onto jobs because she has dyslexia and didn’t finish high school.
“We’re all human,” said Lopez, who got $133 per month for about a year until she qualified for a larger federal disability check. “Everybody has problems. Everybody is different. When people ask for help, we should be able to get it without having to be looked at wrong.”
There are millions of angry Real Muricans out there who openly dispute Ms. Lopez’s status as “human” and don’t believe she and her son qualify for a myriad of reasons.
Arizona’s Legislature cut the budgets of an array of programs to meet the governor’s no-tax-increase pledge. The bill that included the welfare cuts received overwhelming support earlier this spring from Republicans, with just one Democrat voting in favor.
The Legislature also passed a law seeking to force anyone getting Medicaid to have a job, and cutting off those benefits after five years. And Republican leaders are suing their own state to block a centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s health care law, which expanded Medicaid to give more poor people health insurance.
If they prevail, more than 300,000 poor Arizonans could lose their coverage.
Republican Gov. Doug Ducey’s office called all these cuts necessary to protect taxpayers and K-12 classrooms — even though the source of the money is the federal government.
And of course Republicans want to abolish the Department of Education and end that federal money going to states for schools. And 300,000 people losing health insurance certainly won’t be a long-term problem for an aging state like Arizona.
After all if those awful Poors die or move somewhere else, they’re no longer Arizona’s problem, are they?