The state of Arizona has dug itself into a deep budget hole, and it’s decided that the children must bear the cost for the tax cuts to the wealthy.
Will its lawmakers begin to make sensible decisions and cease wasting taxpayer dollars on senseless parades of stupidity like chemtrail hearings? Probably not.
Will lawmakers address the fact that the wealthy in Arizona only pay about 4.7 percent of their income in taxes, while the poorest residents pay 12.9 percent of theirs? Nope.
State lawmakers have instead chosen “option c” which, as with taxes, further hurts the poor in one of the most impoverished states in the nation. Arizona faces a $1 billion hole in its deficit — and Republican lawmakers have decided that this hole will be filled with the tears of the poor, thousands of whom will be kicked off food stamps on July 1, 2016.
1,600 families, including more than 2,700 children will fall victim to Republicans’ successful implementation of a scheme to reduce lifetime welfare benefits to 12 months — the shortest cutoff in the country.
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.”
All states cap benefits at some point, but most allow benefit recipients to collect for five years. Four states impose a four year cutoff, one ends benefits at three years and nine months, four at three years, and thirteen at two years or less, ThinkProgress notes. However, only one state — Texas — ends benefits at 12 months. Though parents may be cut off from benefits in Texas, children are able to continue to collect for up to five years — an exemption that the “bootstrappers” in the Arizona legislature did not think to add to their ill-conceived legislation.
The Arizona legislature did not stop at its war on the “takers” receiving SNAP benefits, however. Republicans also pushed through a law forcing anyone receiving Medicaid benefits to have a job, then cutting off those benefits after five years. At the same time, Republican leaders are suing the state to block Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion — a move that, if successful, will cause 300,000 underprivileged Arizonans to lose health benefits.
All in all, it seems that the GOP has decided that ending poverty is too hard — it’s better just to allow society’s most vulnerable to wither and die.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.