PHOENIX — Hundreds of thousands of Arizona families may soon be forced to survive off of a maximum of $240 dollars per week if Congress or Governor Ducey doesn't beef up the state's unemployment payments.
A Thursday vote is scheduled in the Senate on its latest proposal which would essentially give Arizonans $300 per week; the same amount of federal unemployment assistance that they are currently receiving from the Lost Wage Assistance program which began paying out on August 17 but is expected to stop sometime within the next two weeks.
The amount is far less than the weekly $600 weekly payments and $1,200 stimulus checks included in the HEROES Act that the House passed in May.
It is quite different from the amount Senate Republicans proposed in July. That included $200 weekly payments through September when payments would shift to 70% of a claimant’s former wages up to $500 per week. The measure also included a one-time $1,200 stimulus check.
Dave Wells with think tank, Grand Canyon Institute, says Republicans are essentially moving in the opposite direction because the caucus leadership is having a hard time getting its members to spend more money.
"A lot of Republicans currently are really concerned about added spending, that's not going to be paid for and how that's piling up. So, they've become much more reluctant about passing additional measures," Wells said.
Arizona Senator Martha McSally came out in favor of the latest measure on Tuesday, and in a statement, told ABC15 she is calling on "all members of the Senate to support it."
Wells does not expect the measure to have enough of even her Republican colleague's support to pass. While he is confident both parties with eventually meet in the middle, he says Arizonans will likely have to endure another cut in benefits before that happens.
"And that's simply not something they can survive on long term is going to cause great devastation, even if they get paid back later," he said.