Arizona could get more stimulus funding - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Arizona could get more stimulus funding

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Posted: Thursday, February 19, 2009 8:46 pm | Updated: 2:22 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Arizona could get an extra $125 million in federal stimulus funds.

All it requires is that about 6,000 more residents here lose their jobs.

Richard Stavneak, director of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, told lawmakers Thursday that the package, signed into law earlier this week by President Obama, contains $90 billion to increase the share of Medicaid costs paid by the federal government.

State will get more than $4B from stimulus

Now the government picks up about 66 percent of the cost of the program to provide health care to the poor, with the balance paid largely by the state and a little bit by the counties. The new measure boosts that federal share to 75 percent.

That means federal aid, now slightly more than $4 billion, will go up by $487 million for the balance of this budget year, with an additional $703 million next year and $380 million the year after that.

But Stavneak said the law ties the additional aid to each state's jobless rate.

In December, the most recent figures available, there were nearly 211,000 Arizonans unemployed and looking for work. That translates to a seasonally adjusted jobless rate of 6.9 percent, the figure Stavneak used to come up with his figures.

But Stavneak said if the jobless rate jumps to 7.1 percent - and stays there for at least three months - the state will get an extra $16 million this year. And the additional cash during the following three years totals $109 million.

The chances of the state getting that extra cash are good.

The 6.9 percent unemployment rate announced last month for December was a 0.6 percentage point increase from the prior month. And Dennis Doby of the state Department of Commerce said there was little doubt given the trend the jobless rate easily would top 7 percent for January.

Those figures will be announced next week.

In fact, Doby said an 8 percent unemployment rate this year would not be out of line - and he would not be surprised to see a 9 percent unemployment rate late this year or early next year.

Stavneak said, though, anything above 7.1 percent is irrelevant, at least as far as those Medicaid funds: That's as high as the federal chart goes.

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