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Social Welfare Advocates: We Need Another New Deal Jobs Program

November 24, 2008

Phoenix, AZ – They like the decision to extend jobless benefits for seven more weeks, but Arizona social welfare activists say what's really needed is a New Deal-style jobs program. The advocates point to the state's pressing infrastructure needs and prospects for an extended recession.

Katie Hobbs, a member of the National Association of Social Workers Arizona Chapter, says the state could benefit now just as it did from the public works projects of the 1930s.

"That was a no-lose situation. You got people back to work, which helped the economy, and you got things done to take care of our basic infrastructure needs."

She says workers could do a lot of good in Arizona's state and national parks, where years of deferred maintenance have taken a toll.

"It's not just having the person at the toll gate taking your fee; it's keeping up the trails that people hike on and the roads in and out. If those aren't maintained, they'll deteriorate and the parks will not be able to stay open to the public."

Hobbs, who works at a Phoenix domestic violence shelter, says calls for help from battered women in Maricopa County have increased as the economy has worsened. She believes the Depression experience proves that a jobs program would also have mental health benefits.

"It wasn't just about feeding their families; it was about people feeling worthwhile and doing something with their lives. The New Deal put people back to work and I think we're really in need of doing that again."

Hobbs says there's plenty for workers in a jobs program to do in the areas of transportation, telecommunications, water projects, public safety and teaching.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ