State's Rainy Day Fund Could Help Families Affected By Shutdown

October 07, 2013

On Monday Gov. Jan Brewer ordered the Arizona Department of Economic Security to redirect $650,000 from its budget to cover the cost of issuing welfare checks to needy families. More than 5,000 low income Arizona families are entering their second week without assistance due to the federal government shutdown. Some state legislators asked the governor to tap into the state’s rainy day fund to help fund the welfare progam. 

Democratic state Sen. Leah Landrum Taylor said the state’s rainy day fund is supposed to be used for emergencies.

"I would warrant that this is quite urgent. Also, the federal government has stated that any state that has to use funds from its general fund they will reimburse," Taylor said.

Taylor said other programs, such as unemployment insurance and child care assistance, may run out of money if the shutdown continues. 

The money will help to support the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program through Oct. 31. TANF provides about $200 a month to qualifying families. Eleven states, including Arizona, use only federal funding for the program. According to the Center On Budget and Policy Priorities, Arizona is the only state to have cut funding for the program.

Gov. Brewer's instructions to DES ensure families will receive support through October, but she warned that the assistance the state can provide is limited.

"If the federal government remains at a stalemate come November, Arizona may be faced with catastrophic budgetary challenges and choices as we figure out how to salvage TANF and other critical programs,” said Gov. Brewer.

KJZZ's Julie Levin contributed to this report.

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