An Eagle editorial criticized the just-passed Kansas HOPE Act (“Latest round of ridicule,” April 10 Opinion). Should the governor sign this legislation into law, it will make permanent existing Kansas Department for Children and Families welfare-to-work policies that have been in place for several years. These effective policies have helped drastically reduce welfare rolls and resulted in more than 6,000 Kansans obtaining employment – just within the past year.
A Rasmussen poll found that 83 percent of Americans favor a work requirement with welfare benefits. What should receive even greater support is a policy that prohibits the use of taxpayer-funded benefits for welfare recipients to spend their cash assistance on luxury items that some taxpayers can’t even afford – such as cruises and trips to the tattoo parlor or nail shop. Those who oppose this commonsense policy change fundamentally oppose welfare reform. It should be noted in 2012, under President Obama, the federal government mandated restrictions on cash assistance to prohibit benefit card use at liquor stores, gaming or gambling establishments, and adult entertainment venues.
DCF absolutely supports healthy families and activities to enrich their relationships. No one is banning a low-income family from going to a swimming pool. The Kansas HOPE Act simply says your welfare benefits are there to help you temporarily obtain the basic necessities for your family. Basic necessities include shelter, utilities, food, diapers, etc.
While the left is actively mocking the state of Kansas for passing legislation that protects taxpayer dollars and encourages personal responsibility, these are the same individuals who have since 1996 stood in the way of progress, keeping low-income Kansans dependent on assistance. The Brownback administration is helping people by walking alongside them to give them the skills and support they need to find and keep good-paying jobs so they no longer need to count on welfare benefits to pay their bills.
If you don’t take our word for it, talk to Valerie Cahill. A former Kansas welfare benefits recipient, she is now a full-time worker who is enjoying a life of self-sufficiency. These are her words when she testified in support of the Kansas HOPE Act and the work training program:
“It is my personal belief that to ensure our children a chance at survival, it is necessary, imperative that a law be passed mandating that in order to receive any benefits from the state, you must participate. For me, it’s very simple: You can live or you can just exist.”
Phyllis Gilmore is secretary of the Kansas Department for Children and Families.