The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program hit the 20-year mark in August. When the program was designed two decades ago it was supposed to help poor families get back on track by providing support and resources, including job training programs.
But as Children’s Action Alliance recently pointed out, Arizona spends under 2 percent of its block grant funds on job training activities, compared to 6.5 percent nationally.
In 2015, Legislative Republicans reduced TANF benefits from a lifetime limit of 24 months to only 12 months. They said state did not have enough money to maintain the program. This cut was expected to save $9 million, but it looks it will actually only save $4 million. What makes this move so disingenuous is that Gov. Ducey’s and Legislative Republican’s cuts to the TANF program went into effect the same day they gave away $138 million in big business tax cuts.
Their decisions left 955 poor families—and their 1,660 children—with a little less money to put food on the table and with fewer resources to get the job training and skills needed to move families out of poverty and prevent crisis. In draining money out of the state coffers through special interest tax cuts, the governor and his supporters turned their backs on these families. As a columnist for the Arizona Republic recently wrote, “What the Legislature actually is telling such families – moms, dads and children – is: ‘We don’t care about you.’”
House Democrats are fighting for Arizona families. We advocated for restoring TANF benefits and providing additional resources to parents trying to get back to work. That will continue to be a priority as long as it is a priority for the people in our communities.