State Capitol News
12:32 pm
Thu June 4, 2009

Budget would cut domestic partner benefits

Phoenix, AZ – State lawmakers are moving to strip the domestic partners of
state and university employees of the health insurance coverage
they gained just a year ago.

The proposal would legally define the term dependents for
purposes of benefits as only the spouse of a state worker or
child younger than 19 -- or 23 if the child is a full-time
student. That would overrule a policy change pushed through last
year at the behest of then Gov. Janet Napolitano which expanded
the term to also include domestic partners of state and
university workers and their children. Barbara McCullogh-Jones of
Equality Arizona which advocates for gay rights, said the policy
is good for the state.

(It makes our universities more competitive. Certainly as
universities take substantial hits as do all of our educational
institutions in this budget process, the ability to retain them
because we can offer equal benefits for equal work is critical.)

But Senate Majority Whip Pamela Gorman said she's not convinced.

(I think that there's a lot of variables and a lot of talented
people in Arizona. I'm not sure that this is a key for them. I
haven't heard from any of those people saying the only work for
Arizona because of that reason. So it seems to me a bit
anecdotal.)

And Gorman said there are financial considerations too. The 750
people who have signed up for benefits for their partners are
costing the state an extra $3 million a year.