Arizona’s Republican-dominated Legislature has reduced the lifetime limit for welfare recipients to twelve months, making it the shortest in the country. The move comes with a series of budget cuts aimed at cutting the state’s $1 billion deficit without increasing taxes, as Governor Doug Ducey pledged to do.
The $4 million cuts to welfare will cause the Arizona Department of Economic Security to stop providing benefits to at least 1,600 families, including more than 2,700 children. Arizona’s welfare is funded entirely by the federal government though Ducey says that the cuts are necessary to protect taxpayers and K-12 classrooms. Arizona Republicans plan to reallocate the federal grants to other state programs, the Associated Press reports.
A study published by Feeding America shows that Arizona state is higher than the national average for the percentage of people who don’t get enough to eat. In Arizona, the number is roughly one in five, Inside Tuscon Business reports.
The Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona says that in Pima County, around 156,000 people do not have access to nutritional food, and $78 million would be required for the county to meet its needs. Statewide, almost half a million children live in a household that does not have stable access to food.
The majority of states limit welfare benefits to five years. Only 13 states limit benefits to two years or less.
Long-term recipients who may suffer from mental and physical disabilities, may be poorly educated, or have performed badly at other jobs get hit the hardest. Welfare policy analyst Liz Schott said that in lieu of welfare, they will likely cost taxpayers in other ways, including emergency room visits, homeless shelters, and the criminal justice system.
“The reason they are on public assistance is because many of them are not really succeeding in the workforce,” Schott said.
The legislature also passed a law that would force Medicaid recipients to work, and cutting their benefits after five years. Republicans are also suing Arizona State to block a piece of the Affordable Care Act. If they sue successfully, more than 300,000 poor Arizonans may lose their coverage.
Photo Source: Flickr