Tucked away in the blizzard of budget bills at the end of June were some significant welfare reforms that not only save money, but empower the poor.
Reforms in the welfare code bill will save taxpayers an estimated $173 million from the elimination of cash assistance for largely childless adults, new work requirements and a pilot county block grant program.
Pennsylvanians collecting Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Medical Assistance and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programbenefits (SNAP, or food stamps) must now apply for three jobs a week until they find a part-time job. Apart from promoting the dignity of work, this rule will help low-income folks remain employable and develop work skills they can use to rise out of poverty.
The county block grant program empowers those closest to the poor to distribute funds for seven different human services, instead of relying on mandates from the state. Local county commissioners and health care workers in Lebanon or Greene county know more about the changing demand for drug and alcohol programs versus mental health services than state officials.
These reforms, together with the Department of Public Welfare’s earlier rule change to prevent service providers from getting rich off the poor are restoring the intention of welfare programs-to help people rise out of poverty.
For more details about these new welfare reforms read our latest policy memo.