Welfare has been a contentious issue in the U.S. almost since the system was established. In recent years, many frugal Republicans have been proposing cuts and reforms to the welfare system in an attempt to lower the benefits many in the country receive regularly.
Arizona has been leading the charge, and the state’s legislature recently enacted a law that will limit benefits for welfare recipients to a 12-month period. According to AZ Central, at least 1,600 families and 2,700 children will be dropped from the state’s federally funded welfare program on July 1, 2016 under the new legislation. Arizona’s move will save the state at least $4 million, slowly cutting away at its $1 billion budget deficit.
Arizona’s new time limit represents the strictest of its kind in the country. As The Associated Press reports, most states impose a five-year limit on benefits, 13 have a two-year or less limit and Texas uses a tiered system. Although some welfare recipients in Texas can be cut off after 12 months, the state has a provision in which children can continue receiving benefits for five years. Arizona’s new law has no such provision.
In light of Arizona’s strict welfare legislation, we created a survey in order to gauge how the public feels about this issue. Our survey asked the question, “Do you think there should be a yearly limit for welfare benefits?” The majority of respondents — 43.9 percent answered “Yes.” Surprisingly, more respondents answered “I’m not sure” (32.8 percent) than “No” (23.3 percent).
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Although welfare benefits are intended to help low-income citizens, the wealthiest respondents were also the most likely to answer “Yes.” In the survey, 76.9 percent of respondents making $100,000- $149,999 per year answered “Yes,” compared to just 38 percent of respondents making $24,999 or less per year. Those making $75,000-$99,999 per year were the most likely to say “No,” at 35.9 percent.
These numbers seem to suggest that, although the majority of respondents believe welfare benefits should be cut off after a year, most of those in lower income brackets would like to see those benefits continue. Depending on which side of the political spectrum you associate with, you can view those results in two ways: Either poor people are lazy and looking for handouts, or they need all the help they can get to break out of the brutal cycle of poverty.
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Regardless of how you feel, the reality is that thousands of needy families will soon be denied benefits under the leadership of Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and the state’s Republican legislature.
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