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House Dems outline actions needed to receive stimulus benefits

House Democrats have identified eight things that need to happen for Arizona to receive its full share of federal stimulus aid, about half of which will require legislative action.

Lawmakers already took partial steps toward complying with some of the needed changes last week when they approved a change to the budget that restored some funding for clean water programs.

Arizona is slated to receive $4.2 billion in federal aid under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was signed into law last month. But in order to receive all of that money, the state must meet certain funding standards in specific programs.

The state already qualifies for some of the funding, but must ensure it doesn't make cuts to some programs – like child care subsidies – if it is to continue to receive the federal money.

And some of the money comes with no strings attached, most notably $185 million in general purpose spending for Arizona.

Following is a list of departments that could receive portions of the federal stimulus money if certain qualifications are met and the actions needed for Arizona to receive the money:

*Department of Economic Security Child Care Subsidies – The state must ensure that the fiscal 2010 budget has no cuts to general fund child care funding. Additional cuts would forfeit remaining stimulus dollars. The federal government has made $50 million available to Arizona during the next two years if the Legislature appropriates $32 million to the child care program.

*Department of Environmental Quality Clean and Drinking Water Fund – The state must ensure that the fiscal 2010 budget includes no fund sweeps from this fund. Fund sweeps approved as part of the fiscal 2009 budget were shifted to a different fund in the fiscal 2009 budget trailer bill. The federal government will not permit the transfer of money in the Clean and Drinking Water Fund to the general fund. The Joint Legislative Budget Committee is working to clarify whether cuts would be allowed instead of fund sweeps.

*Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System – The six-month period for redetermination of childless adults might have to be changed to 12 months depending on a legal opinion from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Legislation might be required.

*Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System – AHCCCS shifted cuts of $75,000 to avoid impacting Medicaid premiums for low-income beneficiaries. The first round of fiscal 2009 budget revisions that called for beneficiaries to pay premiums contained language that subjected implementation of premiums to federal requirements. Further actions to raise premiums or cut services could jeopardize Arizona's ability to receive some stimulus money.

*Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System – The state might need to change its agreement with counties that requires a 50/50 split of any unused funding in the Arizona Long Term Care System. In order to qualify for some federal stimulus money, the state will need to change that split to something like 60 percent to counties and 40 percent to the state for any revertments related to the change in match rate to avoid increasing the counties' overall share of the program costs.

*Department of Health Services Breast and Cervical Cancer Screenings and Treatment – DHS is planning to apply a $600,000 cut to areas other than this program in order to qualify for stimulus money. Additional lump sum cuts could jeopardize federal funding if the department is unable to backfill the program.

*Department of Economic Security Unemployment Insurance – Legislation will be needed to move to an alternative base period as the method for calculating the amount of payout that a person qualifies for. And the state will have to choose one additional action from a list of four allowable changes, such as extending unemployment insurance payments for laid-off workers attending training programs to learn a new job skill.

*Department of Economic Security Workforce Investment Act – Legislation is needed to approve the appropriation of stimulus dollars.

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