State Capitol News
12:47 pm
Mon June 8, 2009

Budget could endanger state's stimulus funding

Phoenix, AZ – Some provisions in the budget package just approved by the
Legislature could endanger the state's share of stimulus dollars.

The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act prohibits recipients
of federal stimulus dollars from trimming the eligibility for any
of the programs the cash will fund. But the new budget contains a
requirement that specifically requires those who want free health
care from the state to produce specific documents proving they
are in this country legally. Gov. Jan Brewer said her staff sees
that as a new requirement, one that could cost Arizona $1.7
billion. That contention is getting a fight from Rep. John
Kavanagh.

(We're basically disqualifying people who are here here
illegally. It's hard to believe that the federal government
would, in any way, penalize us for trying to enforce U.S. federal
law.)

But Brewer noted the state has been down this path before, losing
a fight with the feds over another change in law to require those
who get free care to prove they remain eligible every six months
rather than once a year. Lawmakers had to return to the 12-month
standard to get the first payment. The fight over AHCCCS isn't
the only issue. Brewer also is questioning whether a plan to
delay payments to state universities runs afoul of another
provision in the stimulus law and could cost Arizona another $800
million.