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July 20th, 2011
Grijalva Highlights State Cuts Affecting Yuma Area Unemployed, Contrasts With Federal Economic Contributions in Southern Arizona

Washington, D.C.– An economic analysis by the Associated Press has found Yuma County the second most economically stressed in the nation, in part due to recent state-level mandated cutbacks in the health care sector, according to an article in today’s Yuma Sun. The article – partially quoted below – points out that based on the AP’s formula, a county is “stressed” when its score on the stress index exceeds 11, and Yuma County’s is 29.66.

According to the article:

The AP’s Stress Index calculates a score from 1 to 100 based on unemployment, foreclosure and bankruptcy rates. A higher score signifies more economic stress. Patrick Goetz, education training manager for the Yuma Private Industry Council, believes recent cuts to the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) and the resulting layoffs in the local health-care industry are aggravating the county’s already stressed economy. “The AHCCCS cuts and the layoffs in Yuma health services are hitting pretty hard across the board. It had just started to pick up and now it’s been hit hard,” Goetz said.

Gov. Jan Brewer has said she needs to cut more than 150,000 AHCCCS recipients from the program, despite the fact that doing so would cost the state approximately $1 billion in federal matching funds in the first year alone, according to the Arizona Republic. A recent economic analysis has found the Brewer plan would cost the state 30,000 jobs and $2.5 billion in gross state product the first year. Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva has made repeated efforts to stop Arizona’s Medicaid recipients from losing their health insurance and called for the state Children’s Health Insurance Program to be restored.

“The best way to get our economy back on track is to put people back to work – period,” Grijalva said. “We succeed as a community when everyone is working, paying taxes, reducing their reliance on social safety nets, and making regular payments on their homes. I don’t know why most lawmakers won’t talk about job creation, but I’m going to keep raising the point until it sinks in.”

Grijalva highlighted the contrast between these state-level austerity measures – coupled with a $538 million corporate tax cut package Brewer approved in February – with the positive contributions to the Southern Arizona economy made by the Recovery Act and other federal activities, including:

–          A $1.45 billion federally guaranteed loan to Abengoa Solar to build a new solar plant near Gila Bend, bringing 1,700 jobs to the area.

–          A $967 million federally guaranteed loan to Agua Caliente Solar to build a new solar plant near Yuma, bringing approximately 400 jobs to the area.

–          A $180 million expansion of Roche Pharmaceuticals operations near Tucson thanks in part to $2 million in Recovery Act job funds.

–          A more than $1.6 million Recovery Act statewide grant to create job search Internet hubs and virtual workforce training centers around the state.

–          A Recovery Act-funded upgrade at the Mariposa Land Port of Entry, which subsequently won a federal building award.

–          A $1.3 million Recovery Act grant to the Gila River Indian Community to improve Tribal roads and transportation quality.

An independent analysis has found that Medicaid provides critical health coverage for more than 250,000 low-income seniors and people with disabilities in Arizona, most of whom would otherwise go without health care. A February state-by-state scorecard released by the Commonwealth Fund ranked Arizona 49th in the quality of children’s health care nationwide.

The full Yuma Sun article is available at

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