As such, numerous states have been making efforts to trim down their welfare roles. Typically, most states target drug users, criminals, illegal immigrants, and long-term abusers for removal from the rolls, in order to cut costs.
That is precisely what a new piece of legislation in Missouri would do, according to the Joplin Globe.
State Senator David Sater introduced a bill in the state’s Seniors, Families, and Children Committee which would restrict and limit the state’s welfare programs.
First, the bill would lower the time limit one could spend enrolled in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program from five years to only two. It would also prevent the state from obtaining a waiver to the work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly referred to as food stamps.
“Our program in Missouri is downright failing,” he said, referring to the goal of getting the unemployed back to work. “Our work participation rate in this program is only around 17 percent,” the lowest in the nation, or 51 “if you include Washington, D.C. We can certainly do better than that.”
The bill would simply enforce work requirements for welfare that are already on the books, such as requiring recipients to search for a job, enroll in some sort of technical or skills training, or be employed part-time, and would prevent the state from seeking one of the work requirement waivers that Obama has been supporting.
Of course, the efforts at reform have been met with staunch criticism from social justice warriors on the left.
Jeanette Mott Oxford, Executive Director for a group called Empower Missouri, said, “The question shouldn’t be how to get the smallest number of people. It would be how do we create a better SNAP program to help people overcome their barriers.”
“Our society doesn’t provide enough living wage jobs,” she added. “We could sanction people and punish them for not getting a job, but the jobs aren’t there. We think there should be a safety net for when jobs are not there for everyone.”
Oxford is joined by Sarah Rossi from the Missouri chapter of the ACLU, who stands opposed to a provision in the bill that would ban those convicted of “dangerous felonies” from receiving the taxpayer-funded assistance.
“We know that poverty begets desperation, desperation begets crime and crime begets prison,” she said. “Cutting them off of resources that keep them from reentering that cycle does not limit recidivism.”
There are those who support the reform move though. Logan Pike, a lobbyist for the conservative Heartland Institute think tank says that strengthening work requirements and lowering the time limit one can spend on the programs provides incentive for people to find work.
“If TANF recipients aren’t working, they aren’t learning the skills that will get them out of poverty,” she said. “The “T” in TANF stands for temporary.”
As usual, conservatives are forced to be the grown-up in the room. This is a good move, one that should help to shore up and improve the safety net program in the state.
The lobbyist from Heartland summed it up best when she pointed out that the “T” in TANF stands for Temporary. Likewise, the “S” in SNAP stands for Supplemental. Basically, these programs are specifically designed to be used temporarily, and to provide extra help, not be the sole source of support forever.
Neither of these programs were intended to be used as permanent career and lifestyle choices. If these programs are going to survive going forward in providing assistance to those who truly need help, then the abuse and fraud in the system must be addressed.
Preventing convicted felons and long-term abusers from further soaking the taxpayer-funded system can only help to improve it, strengthen it, and sustain it for the future.
—Courtesy of The Conservative Tribune