State Capitol News
9:27 am
Thu February 26, 2009

Arizona in line for child care stimulus dollars

Phoenix, AZ – State officials have found a loophole in the new federal stimulus
bill that will keep the working poor parents of 15,000 children
from losing their subsized child care. Arizona Public Radio's
Howard Fischer explains.

The $787 billion stimulus bill includes money for states to
underwrite the cost of day care. Arizona is eligible for $50
million of that over the next two years. Only thing is, that law
specifically forbids states from trimming what they are spending
now and replacing that with federal dollars. And one of the cuts
made by the Department of Economic Security to balance its budget
includes about $25 million this year for child care. But
gubernatorial press aide Paul Senseman said that's not illegal
supplanting of state funds with federal cash.

"Technically we wouldn't be, because we would be continuing the
$25 million appropriation and not ending it as it was originally
designed in the FY 09 budget package."

The way the state is getting around it deals with timing. The
revised Arizona budget, with its directive to DES to cut spending
was adopted on Jan. 31. President Obama didn't sign the federal
stimulus bill until two weeks later. What that means is that
Arizona is, technically speaking, not cutting its state funding
of child care specifically to replace it with new federal
dollars. And Senseman said that means the subsidy will continue
uninterruped.