/ Modified oct 8, 2013 7:54 a.m.

Brewer Orders State Money Used for Family Welfare Payments

Fed shutdown led to cutoff of funding for thousands of poor in AZ; governor allocates $650K temporarily.

Gov. Jan Brewer on Monday ordered the Arizona Department of Economic Security to use $650,000 from its budget to support the federal program for low-income families through the end of this month.

DES said about 13,300 families already were paid their monthly benefit by Oct. 2. That's 80 percent of those in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, known as TANF.

Because of the federal shutdown, funding of cash assistance dried up for the remaining 3,200 families, because Arizona is one of 11 states that operate TANF with federal money only.

Originally, the DES said 5,200 families would not get their weekly payments, which average $207. It reported Monday that all but 3,200 had received payments.

Brewer criticized President Barack Obama and Congress for allowing the funding impasse to occur and said it could have dire consequences for the state.

“If the federal government remains at a stalemate come November, Arizona may be faced with catastrophic budgetary challenges and choices as we figure out how to salvage TANF and other critical programs,” Brewer said in a statement.

Legislative Democrats had called on Brewer, a Republican, to provide money for the TANF payments. They were scheduled to hold a news conference on the topic at the Capitol Tuesday, but canceled it after Brewer's announcement.

Meanwhile, the Arizona Republic reported Tuesday, DES told nearly 250 workers in its disability benefits office to stay home without pay, delaying application processing.

Those workers are paid with federal money to process applications from people seeking Social Security benefits because of illness or injury that doesn't allow them to work.

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