Please read these questions and let us know what your organization and others in the Grand Canyon state are doing to move legislation and policy in a direction that helps those in need
Virtually all states have budget deficits and extensive financial problems this year and beyond. The states are also the custodians and administrators of multi billions of dollars of federal assistance programs. State policies related to hunger and poverty contain a great deal of state money that is in short supply right now but much more federal money that can grow as the use of the programs grows.
These state policy questions are meant to begin a conversation about how states can deliver more services to their citizens who are facing extreme long term unemployment, hunger, home foreclosures and loss of health insurance and pensions.
Please read them and let us know what your organization and others in your state are doing to move legislation and policy in a direction that helps those in need, especially the poorest of the poor, the millions of new poor, seniors, returning vets, children and the homeless.
Our intention is to create a place on our website that will highlight policy actions that state based organizations are taking and how they are proceeding. We also hope to host a WhyHunger State Policy Award for the best state policies in the U.S.A.
1) Arizona has extremely high poverty rates. 7.6% of the population lives in extreme poverty, the 6th highest figure in the nation. 31.3% of children live in poverty, the 2nd highest rate in the nation and 13.8% of seniors live in poverty, the 3rd highest rate in the nation. What is being done to combat poverty? Who is taking action?
2) Arizona has one of the lowest average weekly unemployment benefits ($222.18). Is there any movement in the legislature or among organizations to raise the rate?
3) While Arizona has high food insecurity, the percent of working poor receiving SNAP is below the national average. What statewide efforts are there to increase SNAP participation and create a more food secure population?
4) The population living without health insurance is above the national average. This includes 12% of children living without health insurance, the 6th highest rate in the country. What efforts is Arizona making to provide health insurance for its people? Have they petitioned the federal government for additional Community Health Centers?
5) Arizona has a high rate of homelessness yet it has one of the lowest percentages of people who receive housing assistance. What is the state doing to improve this imbalance? What statewide organizations are working on the issue?
6) Arizona also has the 2nd highest rate of home foreclosures. How successful are the federal programs to prevent foreclosure? What is the state doing? What non-profits are involved?
7) Only 6% of four year olds are enrolled in state pre-k programs and the state spends less than half the national average in dollars per pupil. Is there a movement in the legislature or among parents and educators to increase participation and funding? How will new federal funding be used?
8) Participation in the Summer Nutrition Program is very low. Is there any movement to increase these numbers? Has Arizona considered asking for SNAP EBT cards for children who are not in areas that provide Summer Meals?
9) The percentage of the state budget spent on Corrections is among the highest in the nation. Is the state investigating alternate means of correction and strategies to reduce recidivism? If so, who is leading the effort?
10) There is no state EITC program. Is there any movement in the legislature or among organizations to have one?
11) The lowest 20% of income earners pay 12.5% of their income in taxes, while the highest 1% of income earners only pay 4.6% of the income in taxes. What can be done to shift the tax burden off low-income citizens?
12) Arizona does not have a Shared Work Program. Why not? Is there any effort to bring one to the state?
13) What other statewide policies or programs are you aware of that are helping to fight hunger and poverty, or are there any that are responsible for increasing it?
Please let us know what your organization and others in your state are doing to move legislation and policy in a direction to address these questions by contacting Executive Director and Co-Founder Bill Ayres at [email protected]
Feel free to inform us of any mistakes we may have made in any of these questions. Also we would appreciate any comments on policies or statistics that might have been overlooked.