Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Group of Democratic lawmakers donate paychecks to jobs organizations



STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – A group of Democratic lawmakers donated on Tuesday their paychecks from the special session on jobless aid to Arizona organizations that help unemployed and homeless Arizonans.

The lawmakers returned tax dollars to Arizonans looking for jobs after a special session to extend jobless aid failed due to Republicans’ refusal to make the simple fix.

“It’s the very least we could do,” said Rep. Katie Hobbs, D-Phoenix (District 15). “Many of our friends and neighbors are struggling right now to provide for their families after being laid off and not being able to find work. While this might not be the extension we all were looking for, it’s only fair that we change a waste of taxpayer dollars into something useful.”

Several Democratic lawmakers chose to donate their paychecks and time to help various community organizations to help unemployed and homeless Arizonans. One of the organizations, Community Voice Mail, is a free, local voicemail service to the unemployed and homeless.

Through Community Voice Mail every client receives their own unique number which they can personalize with their own greeting and password. This is a very simple yet profound tool when a point of contact is essential to securing employment. The organization also records messages about job openings, highlights of other service agencies and free community events.

“Community Voice Mail and unemployed and homeless Arizonans are so thankful for this donation to our service because every little bit helps, especially during this tough economic time,” said Juan Mendez, Arizona Community Voice Mail manager. “Our service has had a measurable impact on the ability of people to emerge from sometimes desperate and seemingly impossible situations and we’re happy to be able to help.”

Democratic lawmakers donated their individual checks of $240 or $140, out of county or in county respectively, which they received for the special session. They earn $35 per diem if they live in Maricopa County and $60 per diem outside of Maricopa County. The special session lasted four days.

Both Gov. Jan Brewer and Democratic lawmakers supported making the simple change to state law, allowing 45,000 unemployed Arizonans to receive jobless aid already appropriated by the federal government. The fix would have kept $3.5 million a week flowing into Arizona’s economy.

In April, 9.4 percent of Phoenix’s workers were unemployed. In Yuma County alone, the unemployment rate has skyrocketed past the worst year of the Great Depression to 25.3 percent.

For more information about Community Voice Mail, visit www.cvm.org.

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