TANF cuts: Is Arizona shortsighted in its dwindling support for poor families?

Reports and Publications
June 2015
Thom Reilly, Keiran Vitek

Arizona’s recently adopted budget for fiscal year 2015-16 includes dramatic reductions in assistance to low-income families with children. On July 1, Arizona will become the first and only state to limit lifetime eligibility requirements for recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to 12 months (federal law allows for eligibility time limits of 60 months). That means come June 30, 2016, many Arizona families no longer will receive TANF benefits even if they otherwise would be eligible under federal guidelines. This will result in savings of $6 million to the state’s $9.1 billion annual budget.

Arizona’s recent reduction in TANF would be a culmination of two major trends that have characterized the program since its inception: a decline over time in benefits and time limits, as well as a gradual shift of funds to uses that diverge from TANF’s original purposes.