Facing a $1 billion budget deficit, Arizona's Republican-led Legislature has reduced the lifetime limit for welfare recipients to the shortest window in the nation.
Low-income families on welfare will now have their benefits cut off after just 12 months.
The cuts of at least $4 million reflect a prevailing mood among the lawmakers in control in Arizona that welfare, Medicaid and other public assistance programs are crutches that keep the poor from getting back on their feet and achieving their potential.
These lawmakers really do think that being poor or sick or disabled is a choice. Therefore, goes the reasoning, punishing that choice will make people behave differently. If we make the poor poorer and the sick sicker then they will see the error of their ways. Here is an example.
"I tell my kids all the time that the decisions we make have rewards or consequences, and if I don't ever let them face those consequences, they can't get back on the path to rewards," Republican Sen. Kelli Ward, R-Lake Havasu City, said during debate on the budget. "As a society, we are encouraging people at times to make poor decisions and then we reward them."
What do you think the chances are that Kelli Ward's kids will ever need assistance?
AZ is winning this Race to the Bottom but is not at the finish line yet. Maybe Ward and friends can reduce the limit on benefits from 12 months to 6. That would really beat Kansas, Toto.