This year, Republicans in the Legislature have been sidetracked from the important issues Arizonans want addressed.

Improving our state's economy, creating jobs and making sure every kid has access to a great education were not high on the agenda. Instead, Republicans promoted legislation creating an official state gun, requiring presidential candidates to show proof of citizenship to Arizona authorities and creating a tea party license plate. None of these bills entices businesses to move to Arizona, creates jobs or helps children learn.

What legislative Republicans also failed to do is make a simple, one-word change in state law that, unless the Legislature acts quickly, will deny 15,000 Arizonans benefits from a system that they have paid into. If the Republican leadership at the Legislature doesn't act on this immediately, many jobless Arizonans, people who have worked previously, will not receive their unemployment checks this week.

Benefits are a maximum of $240 per week for Arizona's unemployed. Without this one-word change, not only will 15,000 Arizonans not get their checks, our state's faltering economy will lose about $3.2 million per week. This number of people not receiving checks will grow over time, forcing unemployed Arizonans to go without much-needed support from a system they've funded and depriving the state's economy of millions more.

These dollars come from the federal government, from a pot of money that Arizona workers have paid into for years.

Unemployment benefits are available for 99 weeks by federal rule. The last 20 weeks are paid by the feds as long as states meet certain requirements, which we no longer meet because of the Republican Legislature's failure to act.

Arizona is only one of a few states that has failed to change its law to assist the long-term unemployed. While other states in the same situation passed bipartisan legislation to help their citizens through this recession, a Republican legislative leader recently called such a change "stupid." What's stupid is denying benefits to people who have paid into the system for their entire career and depriving our state's economy of millions of dollars.

As legislators, our job is to make Arizona a better place for everyone. Rather than wasting time and taxpayer money on issues that do nothing to better our state, we need to step up to the plate and do what's best for our people. This is especially true when doing so will help struggling citizens and our struggling economy. That is a win-win for the citizens of Arizona and Republicans need to join Democrats in the Legislature and put their constituents ahead of their ideology to fix this problem.

• David Schapira is the Arizona Senate Minority Leader and a Democrat from District 17.

(14) comments

NothingButTheTruth

Patriot, the law of diminishing returns states that in all productive processes, adding more of one factor of production, while holding all others constant, will at some point yield lower per-unit returns. Pumping money into education while student desire to learn remains constant yields very little increase in knowledge learned. You are correct when you say the education is there to had by anyone who wants it, and that enough money is already being spent on education. Perhaps Cerulean could inform us to what our education system needs that more money can buy that they don't already have. Many people simply state that education needs more money without understanding what they need that extra money for that they don't already have. More money for health care would always be nice if it's available.

AmericanPatriot

VofReason, thanks for the laughs. I like your wry sense of humor. I never did understand the argument that pouring money into an education system somehow produces better educated children. It's as if they think you can force children to learn by showering them with money. What exactly will more money buy that will make the kids smarter? Isn't the knowledge available to them practically for free? Don't they all just have to reach out and take what they want? That was how it was when I went to school. It was there for anyone interested in getting it. I was and took what I needed to be successful in my life. How has this changed? How are kids not able to get the education they want unless we pour much more money into a system that doesn't seem to care if the kids take what they offer or not? Will the system suddenly care if we double the money they get? I say we get rid of public education altogether and replace it with private schools where we pay directly and can control what they teach and fire them if they don't care to do the job we pay them for.

AmericanPatriot

The only jobs that government can create are government jobs that are payed for by taxpayers. Taxes obviously need to be raised to pay for a larger government. I would have thought that would be obvious to you. Research on fossil fuel has the potential to employ a lot of people for a lot longer than just making jobs that do nothing useful until the 100 million is used up. Think of it as an investment on our future. I wouldn't encourage spending state resources defending sb1070 either. That is why we are not using state resources. So why do we need to fund the dept of corrections 10 million at this time. Does ten million really seem like a lot of money to you? Maybe when we no longer have to incarcerate, educate, and medicate 400,000 illegal aliens, the money we spend for these things will go farther. Until then, we can only hope the rest of working and legal America wakes up to this tremendous drain on our resources. If you are so worried about how we spend our resources then why aren't you trying to help rid our state and country of this parasitical invasion from the south?

Cerulean

American Patriot,
The State must work within the confines of a balanced budget. I am not privy to the State budget and so I do not know how I would use State resources to create or keep jobs. I can assure you that I would not have allocated $10 million to the Dept. of Corrections as this Republican legislature did. I believe education and health care are far more valuable to ‘We The People’ than the penal system is. I would really like to know why the Dept. of Corrections needs $10 million at this time? I would not encourage spending resources on MM laws. I would not encourage spending resources on defending the poorly written SB1070.

You make a wrong assertion when you say that “taxes have to be raised” to create jobs. The government can reduce spending in some areas while they increase spending in other areas. Why do Republicans insist on allowing so many cash incentives for oil companies while people are without work? $100 million spent to ‘research fossil fuel’??? $100 million could put many people to work.

VofReason

Good show. All we need to do is have the Democrates in the legislature fix this jobless mess and pour more money into the efficient education system. Then they can pay another 20 weeks after the year and a half of jobless benefits. Sounds like that will get the State up and running again. Some one somewhere may believe this, but my guess is the majority in AZ will not. Look forward to the Republican having a majority for years to come and hacks like this continuing with nonsense.

AmericanPatriot

Cerulean, what would you suggest the republicans do to create more jobs? That of course assumes that government can create jobs which it cannot. Only the private sector creates jobs. Government can expand government, and that creates new jobs, but then taxes have to be raised and that nullifies any job gains. Taking away obstacles that hinder private sector job creation is the only thing government can do to help in the creation of new jobs and increased revenue. It's a fact that if you lower corporate tax, you will create more jobs and increase revenue to higher levels than before when corporate taxes were higher. So what would you do, if you were Senator Pearce, to create new jobs?

NothingButTheTruth

First you complain about how the republicans do nothing but go after illegals and other useless bills and not job creation. Tax breaks for businesses may not directly create jobs, but it may attract businesses looking for a state to start up a business in. It will also be an incentive for businesses already here to expand. Danged republicans can't do nothing right. Danged if ya do and danged if ya don't.

Cerulean

“Republicans who control the legislature could have fixed this problem months ago. Instead of acting, however, legislators have been playing politics, trying to force the governor into giving tax breaks to businesses.”
E.J. Montini, June 9th column

Republicans once again – do not care the Constitution or The People who elect them to office. They are turning our government into a Corporatocracy!!

More tax breaks for business will NOT create jobs!!!

Cerulean

Sen. Schapira,
Sooooo what is the “one-word” that needs to change?

NFIB Arizona,
I believe the employer is eligible to deduct every penny of FUTA taxes under “insurance premiums”. Therefore, all of us who pay federal taxes pay for unemployment compensation.

NFIB Arizona

Sen. Schapira states: "These dollars come from the federal government, from a pot of money that Arizona workers have paid into for years." And, "What's stupid is denying benefits to people who have paid into the system for their entire career and depriving our state's economy of millions of dollars."

To clarify, Arizona employers pay 100% of both state and federal unemployment tax levies that go toward paying benefits. Insofar as the federal money is being paid for by the U.S. going further into debt, we are all on the hook for the extended federal benefits, not just the workers who seek the benefits. Your readers need to appreciate that it is their employer who pays all of the money that goes into unemployment funds, not the individual worker.

Leon Ceniceros

It seems my first comment was removed because it ...HIT TOO CLOSE TO HOME.

So let me try again. What have the Democrats given not just Arizonians but All Americans;

1. Under a Democrat Congress and Senate and President = 14 TRILLION DOLLAR DEFICT.
2. OBAMA-CARE...that now is set to cost 1 TRILLION DOLLARS A YEAR because every major Corporation and Business will ....STOP PROVIDING COMPANY HEALTH CARE ...the moment that OBAMA-CARE comes into effect in 3YEARS.
3. The Democrats in Congress...Maxine Waters, Charlie Rangel and Barney Franks forced FANNIE MAE & FREDDIE MAC...to give BLACKS AND HISPANICS...home loans in the up to $150,000 per Minority Applicant ...with ...NO DOWN PAYMENT...NO CREDIT CHECK...and you wonder why ....AMERICA HAS MILLIONS OF FORECLOSED HOMES ????
4. Repeal of ....DON'T ASK...DON'T TELL...so now we have MILITARY MEMBERS who are not allowed to leave the Military and forced to share a small bunk room with OPENLY GAY OR LESBIAN OR TRANSGENDER OR TRANSSEXUAL ..AIRMEN/WOMEN, SOLDIER, MARINE, SAILOR, COASTGUARD (can you imagine some poor Christian, young 18yo man or women forced into this situation....you will see suicides, fights and maybe worse). When Marines in Camp LeJune were told about this rule in a huge 1000 man assembly, the few that got up to complain were told by their General to shut up and sit down.
5. The Democrats are doing everything possible to...GIVE AWAY AMERICAN CITIZENSHIP (AMENESTY) ....TO ..20 MILLION MEXICAN ILLEGAL ALIENS.
Who will BANKRUPT ...SOCIAL SECURITY, EVERY STATES WELFARE SYSTEM, HUD, SECTION 8.....FOOD STAMPS WILL COST ANOTHER ..1TRILLION DOLLARS EVERY YEAR...JUST BY ITSELF.

SO WHAT HAVE THE DEMOCRATS DONE FOR AMERICA....THE QUESTION SHOULD BE WHAT HAVE THE.........DEMOCRATS DONE ...TO....AMERICA.

NothingButTheTruth

Schapira speaks in generalities when he says Improving our state's economy, creating jobs and making sure every kid has access to a great education were not high on the "Republican" agenda. Instead, Republicans promoted legislation creating an official state gun, requiring presidential candidates to show proof of citizenship to Arizona authorities and creating a tea party license plate as if that's all they did all day long while in session. True, none of these bills entices businesses to move to Arizona, creates jobs or helps children learn, but then there were a lot of bills that did deal with these issues too. All in all, a very nice political speech that says very little but how great we are and how bad they are. Then he goes on about unemployment as though Demoncrats were the only ones caring about the unemployed. Pure politics as usual from the underdogs.

"I am for doing good to the poor, but...I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. I observed...that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer. "

---Benjamin Franklin

Democrats always cite the poor when requesting higher taxes. They would make the poor so comfortable in their poverty that they would never leave it until the rich could no longer pay the taxes, then the poor would starve. There are jobs for them if those same democrats would just allow us to enforce federal immigration laws and rid our state from the infestation from the south.

Accuracy

David Schapira,

Walk like you talk!

Minority Democrats tried to get the Arizona Legislature to extend jobless benefits in April. And, now Gov. Jan Brewer has called the Legislature into a special session tomorrow to extend unemployment benefits for nearly 15,000 Arizonans who have been on unemployment for at least 79 weeks.

Arizona would qualify for federal dollars to extend those benefits to a maximum 99 weeks, if you and the minority Democrats support Gov. Brewer’s proposal to make a change to the old (Democrat) state law. So “walk like you talk” this time, the benefits would come without a tax increase.

StotheizzE

Leon, I see a lot of bold words, but you say nothing of substance.
What on earth does the Weiner scandal have to do with Arizona? And the Democrats don't have the market cornered on bad behavior. The Republicans have had their share of scandals.

How has the Democratic Party bankrupted America? I think both parties, going quite a few years back, have played their roles in our current economic situation.

I think we all want a legislative body that works on relevant programs, not offical guns or license plates.
You like to put your big words in all caps, but I'm waiting to see if you write something that actually addresses what Mr. Shapira said about the state of affairs here in Arizona. The GOP has been in control of our state politically for quite a few years, so don't pin what's going on in our fair state on the Democrats.

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