(Updated) Senator Sylvia Allen thinks those who filed for Unemployment will Not Want to Leave

Arizona District Legislative Six Senator Sylvia Allen, the chair of the Senate Education Committee, is no stranger to controversial remarks. Over the years she has:

  • Said the Earth is 6000 years old.
  • Openly worried that the nation would look too much like South America (she apologized and said her comments were misconstrued.)
  • Wanted to exclude discussion of the LGTBQ community in sex education classes before backing down thanks to public pressure.

On Thursday, April 23, the Senator went on (where else) talk radio, telling the audience of 550 AM KFYI that people filing for unemployment, especially those who have minimum wage jobs, will want to stay unemployed until at least July 20 because they will make more money with the extra $600 the federal government is providing to the Department of Economic Security.

According to reporting by Laurie Roberts at AZ Central, Senator Allen said in a response to a question about Arizonans filing for unemployment insurance:

“Oh absolutely. Look at the unemployment insurance. The feds have kicked in $600 a week and that is on top of the $240 that the state pays. If you’re a person that has a minimum-wage job or just above that, this unemployment, it’s going to be very hard for you to want to give that up come July 20 is when the so-called $600 a week is supposed to fall away. And we’re trying to get our economy back up and running and our employers are going to need to have their employees be willing to come back to work quickly and I’m wondering if a lot of them will want to ride out the federal unemployment until at least July 20.”

 This is an old story with fringe right-wing political figures that goes back to before Ronald Reagan’s famed complaints of the notorious “welfare queen” in Chicago in the 1970s to brand all welfare recipients as lazy con artists.

What people and Senator Allen need to realize is that the great majority of people on unemployment are not the Welfare Queen. They do not want to sit at home, scarfing down chips and drinking beer, watching Netflix, or Hulu all day. They want to work and bring a paycheck home to feed their family, pay the rent, and have fun on the weekend.

Colonel Felicia French, the person who is looking to defeat Senator Allen (if she is on the primary ballot this August) or her challenger Wendy Rogers offered the below insights:

Arizona Democratic Senator Legislative District Six Candidate Colonel Felicia French

“An Arizonan working full time on minimum wage simply does not earn enough to get by in our state.” 

Working 40 hours a week at $12/hour earns someone $1,920 (before taxes) a month. When the average 1-bedroom rent is about $1,200—that barely leaves a few hundred dollars for food, utilities, and gas, with absolutely no opportunity for savings, or putting aside rainy day emergency funds.”

Now, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, hard-working families are struggling even more.”

In the wake of the health and economic crisis facing our state, rather than address the fact that Arizona’s $240/week unemployment benefits are the second-lowest in the nation (only Mississippi offers less), state legislators have opted to stop working by suspending the remainder of this year’s legislative sessions.”

Worse, rather than ensuring working Arizonans have the tools they need to lead productive, successful lives, at least one legislator has accused Arizonans of not wanting to support their families.”

 The Communications Director for the Arizona Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (ADLCC) Murphy Bannerman commented:

ADLCC Communications Director Murphy Bannerman

“While Sen. Allen continues to collect a paycheck, per diem, and receive health care coverage from Arizona tax dollars, she thinks the 400,000 individuals who have filed for unemployment are living large and enjoying the sleepless nights worrying how they will feed their families and pay their rent or mortgage, among other bills during this crisis. The current boost to unemployment from the federal government is temporary and will end July 20th. What is Allen’s plan to help those who do not have a job to come back to?” 

 “Below is a list of leadership roles Sen. Allen could take on during her time in the district – collecting a taxpayer-funded paycheck, per diem, and health care coverage – that would be more productive than targeting unemployed Arizonans during this public health crisis: 

  • Work with leadership to conduct the legislative session virtually to further address the COVID-19 crisis. Cities and towns have had to be innovative during this time, and the legislature should do so as well. 
  • Urge the Governor to use the $50M allocated by the legislature to aid small businesses and constituents in need during the COVID-19 crisis. 
  • Work directly with cities and towns to aid them during this crisis. Arizona’s mayors have led the way during the COVID-19 pandemic, but where is the legislature?  
  • Support homeless communities who are unable to quarantine themselves, have little to no medical access and are exposed to COVID-19 daily.  
  • Provide aid to small businesses with fewer than 150 employees that are facing mass layoffs. Many have received no help from the federal government – what is Allen’s or the majority party’s plan to address this issue?

Currently, Allen and her fellow Republicans are recklessly encouraging the reopening of the economy when many Arizonans have yet to be tested for COVID-19. The road to recovery will be long and ongoing. What is Allen or the majority party’s plan? As of now, it’s blaming Arizonans.”

Sylvia Allen has other things to worry about like being able to stay on the ballot for the August primaries. She should not go on radio shows, peddling reactionary fecal matter about the welfare system and people taking advantage of the unemployment system (especially one as dysfunctional as Ms. Roberts has reported and legislators like Mitzi Epstein have alerted the community on) that has repeatedly not passed numerous fact checks over the decades.

People like Senator Allen, during a time when many people have been placed in dire circumstances through no fault of their own, should not be rewarded with a new term in office next January.

Please remember to

  • Register/sign up for the Permanent Early Voting List (PEVL) in Arizona or any state that allows early or absentee balloting and mail in your vote by November 3, 2020.
  • Check-in with the Secretary of State’s office where you live to verify your mail-in ballot was received, processed, verified, and counted.
  • Get any voter id a state or county office may need to process your ballot.
  • If you can, to support Clean Election Candidates with a small contribution.

Remember Election Day is 192 days away on November 3. 2020.









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13 thoughts on “(Updated) Senator Sylvia Allen thinks those who filed for Unemployment will Not Want to Leave”

  1. Allen’s comments were that day’s talking point, coming down from Biggs or their Fox News masters. Yes, everyone on that massive unemployment just want to buy a welfare Mercedes, not work. The legislature should not have been paid either, and coming back in session, rather than helping, would be an exercise in preventing doing even more damage to the State.

  2. French said “In the wake of the health and economic crisis facing our state, rather than address the fact that Arizona’s $240/month unemployment benefits are the second-lowest in the nation (only Mississippi offers less), state legislators have opted to stop working by suspending the remainder of this year’s legislative sessions.”

    But its the House Republicans who want to return and the House Democrats who support ending the regular session. If French wants to serve in the legislature, she should follow its happenings more closely.

    And speaking about French being out of touch, Arizona’s unemployment benefit is $240 per WEEK, not per MONTH. So under the enhanced federal benefit, a minimum wage worker gets $1,400 extra each month unemployed. So they make $3,360 per month instead of $960 – that’s a 350% income increase. And you mock Allen for suggesting that that may deter some from returning to work until July.

    • John

      You are forgetting that the Senate President and House Speaker (members of your own party the last time I looked), as well as some of the less energized (vocal) of your caucus, want to adjourn as well. As to the people making more with unemployment, two points. The people that qualify (and some of them are individuals with preexisting health conditions that can not go to work) did not ask to be unemployed and the benefits that are being provided (eventually because many are waiting weeks to get dollar one because legislators at the State Capitol have not see fit to fund updating the technological systems at DES) were the ones approved by every Arizona Representative and Senator in Congress except for Mr. Biggs.

      Take care and have a nice day. Stay well.

      • The majority of the R caucus wants to come back, when safe to do bills. Speaker Bowers, after a caucus meeting, is now advocating a return. In addition, I was not condemning people on unemployment. I was just supporting Sen. Allen’s obvious observation that giving people 350% more to not work than work will induce some to not work.

        True to form, nobody on this blog addressed my comment, including you. Although you are head and shoulders above some here who reverted to BfA-style personal attacks.

        To your point, not asking to be unemployed does not mean that one might not succumb to temptation to unnecessarily stay on unemployment to continue getting 350% more income. Plus, is it good public policy to pay people more money not to work than what they would be receiving were they working? Is that the policy French supports? She should address that issue because she seems to have a different view than her opponent, Allen. Voters have a right to know.

        Stay well too.

        • Hi John

          I think the great majority of the people on unemployment (there are always exceptions in any situation,) including the ones forced to stay home because of health concerns would prefer to be at work, leading productive lives and bringing home an actual paycheck. Take care.

          • I agree but Allen did not say most would evade work. She did not state a percent. Maybe you and Allen agree.

          • It is a very nice thought John but I strongly suspect Senator Allen and I do not agree on the great majority of most issues including this one. Take care.

        • So you’re saying we can’t trust the poors.

          Out loud. My oh my.

          Social welfare bad, corporate welfare good.

          Got it.

          • So then what does this mean:

            “…not asking to be unemployed does not mean that one might not succumb to temptation….”

            You say it right there.

            Gaslighting fails if I can scroll back up the page and call out your own words.

            Maybe you should learn what words mean, this is the same racist crap your party has been dog-whistling for years.

    • Is this the same John Kavanagh that was sprinting through the capitol to add almost one million of Arizona Taxpayer’s dollars to some contract with GEO, because he felt the weren’t making enough profit?

      Conservatives like to scold minimum wage workers for not saving up for a rainy day, but they’re giddy about giving their corporate donors tax breaks and bailouts.

      Kavanagh, Paul Gosar, Debbie Lesko, Andy Biggs, Trent Franks, these are just some of the reasons I groan every time I hear the word Arizona in the news.

  3. What a pathetic fool. Is she concerned about all the corporate welfare we taxpayers dole out? She should resign. Her ignorance and idiocy is an embarrassment to AZ.

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