A few women at the state Capitol invited Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce into their daily lives to show him what a few hundred dollars a week from unemployment benefits can buy.
Carla Mannes, one of the women at a press conference held by Citizens for a Better Arizona, explained that a $240 unemployment check is spent on bills and necessities such as gas. Yet she can't afford state health care insurance such as AHCCCS, because she makes too much money.
Members of the group, who also have successfully filed signatures in support of a recall election for Pearce, held the press conference to explain that the recall effort is much more vital now because the senator is expected to vote against the extension.
Governor Jan Brewer called a special session of the Legislature to approve an extension of unemployment benefits, which the federal government approved in March. Local state lawmakers didn't vote on an extension during the regular session.
"I think (Pearce) is man who sold himself on a platform of leadership, but has turned into a dictator," said Mannes, who says she lost her job in 2009 and has since depended on a $240 weekly unemployment check.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Phoenix New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Phoenix's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Mannes is part of the 9.3 percent unemployment rate in Arizona. She complained that taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for the Legislature to be in session an extra day when a high percentage of the population doesn't have a job. What makes her even madder is that Pearce has called the benefits an incentive to stay home and not work.
Randy Parraz, co-founder of the recall group, says that Pearce "has failed to show leadership once again." Especially when the Legislature had all this time to do something about it, and Pearce instead decided to focus on gun legislation and immigration bills.
"Why would they put [unemployment benefits] on the back burner?" Parraz asked. "We should not have to call a special session for this."
Both the state House and Senate began the special session today, but adjourned till Monday without taking action.