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Jordan Candler / May 19, 2015

Arizona Reforms Welfare Amid Budget Woes

With its balance sheet at a startling $1 billion in the red, Arizona lawmakers were left with little choice but to make unpopular, albeit necessary, cuts to the state’s welfare system. The Associated Press says, “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 savings are a far cry from what’s needed to balance the books, but nonetheless it’s a good policy shift that will have positive long-term outcomes. It’s also radically different from nearly every other state. Most welfare recipients are allowed benefits for up to five years. However, “Thirteen states limit it to two years or less, and Texas has a tiered time limit that can be as little as 12 months but allows children to continue to receive funding even after the parents have been cut,” according to the AP. That means Arizona’s policy on welfare duration is now the nation’s strictest. Importantly, the state still allows a year-long safety net, which conservatives almost unanimously agree is both practical and necessary. But the state is also ensuring that taxpayers aren’t left to support beneficiaries riding the system. As Republican State Senator Kelli Ward acutely observed, “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.” That’s what makes Arizona’s reform, despite the Democrats’ calling it unsympathetic, a sound decision. More…

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