Gov. Doug Ducey announced late Friday afternoon that he was issuing actions to expand access to unemployment benefits and extend the state income tax deadline.
An executive order lets Arizona residents apply for unemployment immediately after losing a job instead of having to wait one week before getting benefits. It also removes work search requirements.
The list of people eligible for unemployment was also expanded by the order. Now, those who have reduced hours due to COVID-19, people who are in quarantine due to the virus or those who have to care for a sick family member are also eligible for unemployment benefits.
An administrative action announced in the same statement extends the state income tax filing deadline to July 15, 2020. That brings the state in alignment with the federal tax deadline that was extended about eight hours before the governor’s announcement.
Ducey also sent a letter Friday to Arizona’s congressional delegation asking them to protect state coffers. Specifically, he asked that any changes to federal programs do not require states to pick up additional costs. He also asked that the federal government cover the cost of more people using programs like Medicaid, SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) and TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families).
The governor also asked that any aid sent to the states come in the form of block grants with no strings attached so the state can best determine how to spend the money.
On Friday morning, the Trump administration announced it is closing the U.S.-Mexico border to all “non-essential” travel. Ducey asked Arizona’s members of Congress to ensure that the border stays open for trade.
Mexico is Arizona’s largest trading partner. Thousands of workers cross the border each day into Arizona to harvest crops. Ducey said the state is ready to work to make sure those workers pose no threat of spreading the coronavirus.