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University of Wisconsin–Madison
Poverty-related issues in the news, from the Institute for Research on Poverty

Tag: Welfare reform

Welfare Reform

  • Wisconsin is the GOP model for ‘welfare reform.’ But as work rules grow, family faces the hard reality, By Robert Samuels, April 23, 2018, Northwest Herald: “The shock absorbers in James Howlett’s Ford Fusion were busted, but he and his partner, Nadine, packed their two children inside anyway. They were already homeless, and their time on food stamps was running out. They needed to fix the car and dig up documents to try to get back on welfare. The suburban homeless shelter where they slept the night before was now in the distance as they made their way through the familiar blight of the city neighborhood that was once home. Howlett dropped Kayden, 5, at kindergarten and Cali, 3, at day care in a community center that stood amid the boarded-up houses and vacant fields surrounded by barbed wire that dot Milwaukee’s north side. That’s when he found himself gripped by a new worry: His run-down Ford might be another barrier to government assistance…”
  • Farm bill creates latest push for ‘welfare reform’, By Jessica Wehrman, April 22, 2018, Columbus Dispatch: “Republicans’ next big push for ‘welfare reform’ comes courtesy of a bill designed to pay for the nation’s farm programs. The federal farm bill, which expires on Oct. 1, is aimed at providing federal support to farmers who may need it during tough times. But roughly 80 percent of the bill goes to federal food assistance, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. That typically makes the bill’s passage a bipartisan affair, with urban and rural lawmakers joining forces to both help feed the poor and to keep farmers facing financial difficulty from being driven out of business entirely. But this year’s bill has been different. Instead, to Democrats’ fury, House Republicans see the farm bill as an opportunity to take a crack at revamping SNAP, formerly known as food stamps…”

Assistance Programs and Work Requirements

  • Trump executive order strengthens work requirements for neediest Americans, By Tracy Jan, April 10, 2018, Washington Post: “President Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order directing federal agencies to strengthen existing work requirements and introduce new ones for low-income Americans receiving Medicaid, food stamps, public housing benefits and welfare as part of a broad overhaul of government assistance programs…”
  • Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signs new limits on welfare programs into law, By Jason Stein, April 10, 2018, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday signed new limits on welfare programs into law, committing state and federal taxpayers to nearly $80 million in spending to draw more people into the labor force…”

Assistance Programs and Work Requirements

  • Proposed work requirements could add uncertainties to Wisconsin’s Medicaid system, By Guy Boulton, March 28, 2018, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Wisconsin is among the 10 states that want to impose work requirements on some healthy adults who get health insurance through their Medicaid programs. However, unlike Kentucky, Indiana and Arkansas, which have received federal approval for work requirements that they plan to implement immediately, Wisconsin’s requirement wouldn’t kick in until a healthy adult hasn’t worked for four straight years…”
  • Republicans’ new welfare reform focus: Low-income men, By Tami Luhby, March 28, 2018, CNN Money: “A generation ago, Republicans focused on reforming the nation’s safety net by requiring poor mothers to work. These days, the Trump administration and Republican leaders are once again looking to overhaul government assistance programs. But now they are zeroing in on a new group: low-income men.  Much of the focus this time centers on requiring able-bodied, working age recipients to get jobs or participate in other community activities if they want to receive Medicaid or food stamps — two of the largest public aid programs in the US with tens of millions of enrollees each…”
  • WV Gov. Justice quietly signs SNAP work requirement bill, By Jake Zuckerman, March 27, 2018, Charleston Gazette-Mail: “Gov. Jim Justice signed a bill into law Tuesday that will impose work requirements on certain adults receiving benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program…”

Welfare Reform

  • Would new limits on food stamps help or hurt children? Missouri lawmakers disagree, By Tessa Weinberg, March 14, 2018, Kansas City Star: “As Republican lawmakers push bills to tighten access to the state’s welfare programs, their critics worry one group of Missourians could be hurt the most: low-income children. A handful of bills would put greater restrictions on people receiving aid through federal welfare programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as SNAP, or food stamps…”
  • Missouri House supports bill adding welfare program restrictions, By Suman Naishadham, March 15, 2018, Columbia Missourian: “House members approved new restrictions and penalties for individuals who use two welfare programs on Thursday, despite impassioned arguments the move will create unfair financial hardships for those who rely on the funding…”
  • Trump’s vow on welfare faces an uncertain future, By Glenn Thrush, March 15, 2018, New York Times: “In his State of the Union speech two months ago, President Trump vowed to end welfare as he defined it, heralding a plan to force recipients off federal housing vouchers, food assistance and Medicaid if they were not willing to do ‘a hard day’s work.’ Days before the speech, as part of the plan, several federal departments took steps to impose the stricter work requirements on able-bodied adults receiving noncash aid. The move could result in the loss of subsistence benefits for as many as four million poor, single adults over the next few years, experts say. But Mr. Trump’s effort faces an uncertain future…”

Welfare Reform – Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s unprecedented welfare reform could inspire conservative changes elsewhere, By J. B. Wogan, February 27, 2018, Governing: “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is poised to sign a sweeping package of bills aimed at reducing welfare rolls by expanding work requirements and adding other restrictions. The proposals include several changes that no other state has tried and would require approval from the federal government…”

Welfare Reform – Wisconsin

Assembly Republicans pass full slate of Gov. Scott Walker’s welfare limits, By Jason Stein, February 15, 2018, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “The Wisconsin Assembly on Thursday approved Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed welfare limits and sought federal help to cover more of the nearly $90 million in costs from the proposals…”

States and Welfare Reform

  • Where the work-for-welfare movement is heading, By Jen Fifield, January 25, 2018, Stateline: “As President Donald Trump and Republican leaders in Congress set out to impose tougher restrictions on welfare, their conservative allies across the country are trying to help them accomplish their mission, state by state. Republican governors and state legislators are moving ahead with proposals that would make it harder for people to get and keep welfare benefits and restrict what benefits they get. Measures already have been floated in about a dozen states, and, policy analysts say, what happens in states in the coming year will serve as an indicator of what’s to come nationally…”
  • Report: Poor families struggling with Kansas welfare rules, By Madeline Fox, January 25, 2018, kcur.org: “Income that doesn’t come close to the poverty line. Persistent job insecurity. Shifting schedules and irregular hours. Cumbersome barriers to state assistance meant for the neediest Kansans. A new report from the left-leaning Center for Budget and Policy Priorities paints a stark picture of the Kansas welfare system. Analysts focused on two major changes to Kansas welfare eligibility rules enacted under Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration — work requirements and time limits…”
  • Gov. Charlie Baker’s budget would let welfare recipients keep more benefits while working, By Shira Schoenberg, January 25, 2018, MassLive: “A proposal in Gov. Charlie Baker’s budget aims to help welfare recipients return to work by continuing to pay them benefits even after they start a new job. ‘We’re going to make it possible for people who work to be able to continue to do so past the point that they would have been able to historically,’ Baker said Wednesday…”

Welfare Reform – Wisconsin, Maine

  • Scott Walker calls special session on bills making changes to welfare programs, By Molly Beck, January 18, 2018, Wisconsin State Journal: “Gov. Scott Walker called on lawmakers Thursday to take up a slate of bills that would make sweeping changes to the state’s welfare programs — including requiring parents to work in order to receive food stamps and requiring residents in subsidized housing to be screened for drug use…”
  • Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker pushes welfare overhaul to include work requirement for parents on food stamps, By Jason Stein, January 18, 2018, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “With unemployment low and a tough election looming, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker called Thursday for a special legislative session to overhaul the state’s welfare programs. The GOP governor is pushing for a series of welfare bills, including requiring able-bodied parents of children on food stamps to work or get training to receive more than three months of benefits and increasing the existing work requirement for all able-bodied adults from 20 hours a week to 30…”
  • LePage says Trump administration again blocks ban on food stamps for junk food, By Eric Russell, January 19, 2018, Portland Press Herald: “For the second time in less than two years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has denied a request by Maine Gov. Paul LePage to ban food stamp recipients from using their benefits to buy sugary drinks and candy. His spokeswoman, Julie Rabinowitz, said Friday that the administration would ‘revise our waiver request and resubmit it,’ but she did not offer a timeline…”

Welfare Reform – Kansas

Brownback cut welfare in Kansas. Is Congress about to follow?, By Jonathan Shorman, January 14, 2018, Wichita Eagle: “Welfare restrictions and work requirements have knocked tens of thousands of Kansans off assistance over the past few years. Many get kicked out for not working, but only a small percentage leave because they have a job, the latest federal data reveals. Republicans in Congress have said they want to tackle welfare reform. Some, including Rep. Ron Estes of Wichita, say Washington, D.C. should look to Kansas as an example, but it’s unclear whether program cuts in Kansas left recipients better off…”

Welfare Reform – Ohio

20 years after welfare reform, are Ohio’s poor any better off?, By Catherine Candisky, October 15, 2017, Columbus Dispatch: “It’s been seven years since Laura Staten hit rock bottom, but talking about it still makes her cry. With her 1 1/2-year-old son, their belongings stuffed into two trash bags, and less than $100 in her pocket, Staten fled an abusive marriage, unsure how to build a new life but determined to do it. ‘I had nothing,’ said the 33-year-old preschool teacher from Bremen, her voice quivering. With new restrictions on welfare, she learned that help from the government would be limited…”

Welfare Reform – Washington, DC

District does an about-face on welfare reform with decision to keep helping long-term recipients, By Paul Duggan, July 24, 2017, Washington Post: “In 2011, long-term welfare recipients in the District had reason to be gravely worried, because the D.C. Council and then-Mayor Vincent C. Gray seemed intent on ending benefits entirely for families that had been on the rolls for longer than 60 months. The cutoff date, dubbed ‘the cliff,’ was set for October of this year, after which about 6,000 impoverished adults with roughly 12,000 children would be left to fend for themselves financially…”

Welfare Reform – Maine

Gov. LePage tells legislators: Turn my welfare actions into permanent law, By Kevin Miller, March 28, 2017, Portland Press Herald: “Gov. Paul LePage unveiled a package of proposed welfare changes Tuesday that seek to put into law the executive actions his administration has made to tighten access to assistance programs while beefing up work requirements. Several of the proposals outlined by LePage were introduced as bills in the past but have failed in the Legislature in the face of opposition from Democrats and advocates for low-income Mainers…”

Welfare Reform – Wisconsin

Scott Walker: Parents should work 80 hours per month to get food stamps, By Molly Beck, January 24, 2017, Wisconsin State Journal: “Gov. Scott Walker wants parents who receive food stamps to work at least 80 hours per month to continue to receive full benefits.  Walker made the announcement Monday in appearances around the state promoting changes dubbed ‘Wisconsin Works for Everyone’ that he plans to make to the state’s welfare programs.  One component would require parents with school-age children living at home to work to continue to receive full benefits through the state’s food stamp program known as FoodShare…”

Welfare Reform and Intergenerational Poverty

The major flaw in President Clinton’s welfare reform that almost no one noticed, By Max Ehrenfreund, August 30, 2016, Washington Post: “Shavonna Rentie’s father raised her on what he earned working at McDonald’s, along with welfare and food stamps. When she was 15, President Clinton signed a law that changed all of that, replacing welfare with a complex new system that fostered vocational training.  The new law encouraged Rentie’s father to go to school and become a mechanic. Seeing him get the job he wanted ‘pushed me to go for what I really want to be,’ Rentie said.  It was exactly as the writers of the law had planned: Welfare reform would help parents receiving welfare set a better example for their children. The children, in turn, would grow up with broader ambitions, free from the generational cycle of poverty and dependence on government — at least, that’s what policymakers intended…”

Welfare Reform

  • 20 years since welfare’s overhaul, results are mixed, By Pam Fessler, August 22, 2016, National Public Radio: “Twenty years ago, welfare as Americans knew it ended. President Bill Clinton signed a welfare overhaul bill that limited benefits and encouraged poor people to find jobs.  ‘We’re going to make it all new again, and see if we can’t create a system of incentives which reinforce work and family and independence,’ Clinton said at a White House bill signing ceremony.  The goals were admirable: help poor families get into the workforce so they’d no longer need government aid. They’d get job training and support, such as help with child care.  But the results have been mixed…”
  • How welfare reform changed American poverty, in 9 charts, By Max Ehrenfreund, August 22, 2016, Washington Post: “Twenty years ago, President Clinton kept a promise. ‘I have a plan to end welfare as we know it,’ he said in a television spot during his campaign for office. He did, on Aug. 22, 1996.  The law that the president signed that day, together with other policies enacted by Congress and the states, profoundly changed the lives of poor Americans. It was intensely controversial at the time — a controversy that is heating up again today. New data on the hardships of poverty in the aftermath of the recent recession have exposed what critics say are shortcomings of welfare reform…”

TANF programs – Missouri, California

  • Tougher rules shrink Missouri welfare rolls, advocates for the poor say, By Kurt Erickson, June 17, 2016, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “New figures show the number of poor people receiving temporary cash benefits in Missouri has plummeted in the past five years.  And, the number is expected to nosedive further in the coming months under a proposed new law that calls for the state to scrub the welfare rolls to eliminate people who aren’t eligible for the aid…”
  • California’s new budget repeals welfare rule denying extra aid for newborns, By Jessica Calefati, June 16, 2016, San Jose Mercury News: “Capping a month of remarkably productive talks between Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic leaders, lawmakers on Wednesday adopted a new state budget that repeals a harsh welfare rule advocates for needy families had fought against for years.  Assembly members barely debated the $122.5 billion general fund budget, passing it 52-27. The Senate approved the spending plan 27-11 over the objections of most Republicans, who argued that the Legislature was a bit too generous this year and should have saved more of the tax revenue it collected…”

Welfare Reform and the Disconnected

The Disconnected, By Krissy Clark, June 3, 2016, Slate and Marketplace: “I met Laura Grennan on a cold morning this past winter in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In a gray sweatshirt, her dark hair pulled back in a ponytail, Grennan was pushing her daughters in a double stroller. Angel is her 2-year-old, and her 3-year old is named Isis—like the Egyptian goddess, Grennan is quick to explain. ‘I love Egyptian mythology,’ she says, ‘so I just picked the name out of a hat, and I thought it was beautiful—until, of course, all the news of the terrorist group came out.’ She sighs. ‘But we work around it.’  ‘Working around it’ is something Grennan, 30, has had to become very good at in her life. Grennan grew up in foster care. Moved around a lot. Dropped out of high school. By her mid-20s, she had found some degree of stability—gotten her GED, held a series of jobs she liked…”

Welfare Reform

20 years later, welfare overhaul resonates for families and candidates, By Clyde Haberman, May 1, 2016, New York Times: “In a sense, this is a ‘Back to the Future’ presidential campaign, with candidates revisiting a specific time in the past to explain — and often lament — where the country is today. That period is often the 1990s, during Bill Clinton’s White House watch. It was when stricter anti-crime measures and looser financial regulations came into being, policies now attacked almost daily by contenders offering voters their visions and revisions.  One ‘Back to the Future’ issue from the ’90s has received relatively scant attention, but the next president may have a hard time avoiding it, for it affects millions of Americans. It involves the welfare system, overhauled in 1996 by a Republican Congress and a Democratic president, Mr. Clinton, who had pledged to ‘end welfare as we know it.’ He made good on that promise. Welfare as we knew it went away. But poverty as we know it never ended, a stark reality shaping the latest video documentary from Retro Report, which examines major news events of the past and their reverberations…”

Safety Net Programs for Poor Families

  • The end of welfare as we know it, By Alana Semuels, April 1, 2016, The Atlantic: “By the numbers, welfare reform was a success. More than 13 million people received cash assistance from the government in 1995, before the law was passed. Today, just 3 million do. ‘Simply put, welfare reform worked because we all worked together,’ Bill Clinton, who signed into law welfare reform, or the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, wrote in an op-ed in The New York Times in 2006. Clinton had campaigned on a pledge to ‘end welfare as we know it’ and today it is all too apparent that he succeeded…”
  • Welfare time limits save Michigan millions, but cost 32,090 families, By Emily Lawler, April 5, 2016, MLive: “Since Michigan enacted sweeping welfare changes nearly five years ago, more than $62 million has been saved. But for 32,090 families, those savings means they can never get cash assistance, even in the most dire of emergencies. In 2011, Michigan’s legislature tightened and started enforcing time limits on cash assistance, or what the state calls its Family Independence Program. The move was swift…”
  • Maine’s welfare policies have taken a turn, with dire consequences for kids, By Sandy Butler and Luisa Deprez, March 8, 2016, Bangor Daily News: “Changes in public policy motivated by politics, not facts, have been disastrous for Maine children. Since Congress passed ‘welfare reform’ 20 years ago, it has become increasingly clear that many of these so-called reforms have failed, leaving many parents and children in deeper poverty without sustainable employment. Many of these policies simply were not based in the realities of people’s lives and ignore the economic environment people are living in. They are unsupported by social science research or evidence and have left far too many families and children behind…”
  • Stripping D.C.’s poor families of their last income source, By Judith Sandalow, March 11, 2016, Washington Post: “Winter snowstorms send most parents into panic mode. When my boys were young, I remember doing the calculations. Are schools closed? Can I find someone to watch them? It’s even more of a burden for families struggling to make ends meet. Their list of questions grows more urgent. If I miss my shift at work, will I get fired? Is there enough food in the house to feed the kids? How are we going to stay warm when the heat’s been turned off..?”
  • Legislature battles over poverty – but agreement possible, By Matthew Albright, April 5, 2016, News Journal: “When DuPont Co. came calling, it took the General Assembly only days to pass a pair of corporate tax breaks worth tens of millions of dollars. But after Democrats and Republicans alike sprinted to protect high-end research and management jobs, lawmakers are now deliberating on how to help those on the opposite end of the income ladder – those languishing in poverty. Some of that discussion has already bogged down in familiar partisan battlefields, like debates over the minimum wage and the size and scope of a taxpayer-funded safety net…”

Welfare Time Limits – Arizona

Arizona sharply limits welfare to 12 months, Associated Press, May 20, 2015, Arizona Republic: “Facing a $1 billion budget deficit, Arizona’s Republican-led Legislature has reduced the lifetime limit for welfare recipients to the shortest window in the nation. Low-income families on welfare will now have their benefits cut off after just 12 months. As a result, the Arizona Department of Economic Security will drop at least 1,600 families — including more than 2,700 children — from the state’s federally funded welfare program on July 1, 2016…”