With Coronavirus rates holding steady or increasing (depending on the day) in Arizona, State House Democrats are calling on Governor Doug Ducey to take action on COVID relief to help the state’s residents get through the current and next phases of the pandemic both medically and economically.
With over 5000 people dead in Arizona and the United States Congress, despite apparently fruitful discussions by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin, stalled on the next COVID relief legislation, Legislative District (LD) 19 State Representative Diego Espinoza said “we need emergency action now. We cannot wait.”
LD 28 State Representative Aaron Lieberman, echoing Espinoza, called what Arizona is facing “a cascading crisis.”
LD 27 State Representative Reginald Bolding said this “We can accept the status quo, or we can lead in proving solutions for everyday Arizonans like providing food on the table and not getting kicked out of the home.” He also said that is a “Rainy Day Situation” for the State Rainy Day Fund. He concluded by saying “the people know the system is broken.”
One guest, businessman John Balfour, a soon to be former Republican who never thought he had to use the state unemployment system, recounted the months-long difficulties he had in accessing the benefits. He was forced to tap into his retirement fund. He called the weekly unemployment allotment of $240 an insult because no one can live on that. It, according to him, “is not even good emergency money” and asked, “how many people can live on six dollars an hour.”
Among the actions the Democrats want Governor Ducey to take are to:
- Increase unemployment insurance so people can afford to put food on their table, pay the rent or mortgage, and pay their utilities.
- Increase funding for contact tracing.
- Provide more resources for schools to open safely so all stakeholders are fully protected.
- Provide assistance to small businesses like the restaurant industry.
- Replenish mortgage and rent assistance relief programs.
- Protect indigenous communities like the people on the Navajo Nation.
- Form a bipartisan advisory committee to help the Governor at arriving at informed decisions.
All the speakers called on Governor Ducey to use any left-over CARES Act money (including the funds he, according to Lieberman, earmarked for the Department of Corrections) and some of the Rainy-Day funds to address Arizona’s urgent needs.
With Congress stalled on COVID !9 legislation, Doug Ducey cannot rely on the Federal Government providing the assistance right now Arizonans desperately need.
He has to stop being a cheap shnora and as Mr. Balfour said, “kick it into gear.”
To watch the whole press conference in its entirety, please click here.