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While the Obama Administration has made getting “free stuff” a part of his overall economic strategy, the state of Kansas is taking an opposite approach with a new and controversial bill just introduced by implementing much-needed welfare reforms, and making welfare recipients more accountable and hopefully more inclined in seeking a job.

Sen. Michael O’Donnell, a Wichita Republican who was a key sponsor of “House Bill 2258 said “We’re trying to make sure those benefits are used the way they were intended, this is about prosperity. This is about having a great life.” He went on to explain that the bill is designed to make people “more responsible” in how they spend their benefits.

Of course Gov. Sam Brownback is once again being slammed by his Democratic opponents for implementing these additional reforms. However during the governors first term the state’s TANF enrollment declined by half from 38,900 in 2011 to 17,600 in 2014, which led to 6,000 people who had been on TANF to obtain a job in 2014.

However implementing any type of welfare reform no matter how successful it may be, will always have its detractors; “We pat ourselves on the back that our TANF rolls have gone down exponentially and we say it’s because all those people are now working. We don’t know that and I’m guessing it’s not the truth,” said Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka.

The irony of course to Sen. Kelly’s claim is that perhaps there should be a different standard between those working individuals and those that collect “government benefits” in that the individual working and receiving a pay check is accountable and responsible to his employer while welfare recipient should be accountable and responsible to no one?

My guess is that those Democrats would prefer that there be no standards, and no accountability on how the “people’s money is spent, however this “tough-love” approach seems to make a lot of progressive Democrats squeamish, or perhaps they’re simply looking towards the next election.

Under the Senate’s base bill, a TANF recipient could receive up to 36 months of assistance in a lifetime, and a hardship extension of up to 12 months could be approved by DCF if, for example, a person was involved in domestic violence. The maximum benefit had been 48 months, and adults would be required to complete a work program assessment before applying for TANF as specified by DCF.

The bill also specifies that no TANF cash aid could be spent out-of-state or anywhere for expenditures in a liquor store, casino, jewelry store, tattoo or body piercing parlor, spa, massage parlor, nail salon, lingerie shop, tobacco paraphernalia store, psychic or fortune-telling business, bail bond company, video arcade, movie theater, swimming pool, cruise ship, theme park, dog or horse racing facility or sexually oriented retail business.

 

 

 

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