According to a review by American Ledger, GOP lawmakers in the Arizona Legislature passed legislation to weaken public benefits, harming part-time workers and exacerbating the significant economic pain unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2012, Kate Brophy McGee, Rick Gray, and J.D. Mesnard voted for HB 2519, a bill that raised the eligibility requirements for Arizonans to qualify for unemployment assistance. Because of HB 2519, many part-time and service workers became ineligible for critical state benefits as the pandemic wiped out the state’s economy.
As hundreds of thousands of Arizonans lost their jobs amid the pandemic, many workers found out that they were barred from receiving benefits they had paid state taxes into because of HB2519. The legislation nearly doubled the income requirement to receive benefits, a shift that directly harmed part time workers. According to the Phoenix New Times, the state’s “notoriously restrictive” system meant that thousands of Arizonans were ineligible for state benefits and therefore ineligible for the extra $600 weekly payments provided for by the federal government.
The state GOP’s bill directly impacted working Arizonans as they faced the worst economic downturn in a century. This Legislature-induced change to public benefits was so harmful that 1.1 million Arizonans were left out of state benefits by the restrictive, GOP-crafted laws and had to use a separate system to apply for benefits, resulting in significant delays. Many Arizonans are still awaiting their benefits from the alternate system, months into a pandemic that has wiped out their savings, taken their jobs, and left their families in limbo.
Representatives Brophy McGee, Gray, and Mesnard, all of whom voted to gut benefits for working class Arizonans, are up for reelection to the state Senate in 2020.