Opinion Columns & Blogs

Even without $25 cap, welfare law still a mess

It was bad enough that state legislators wanted to put a $60 limit on daily ATM withdrawals of welfare benefits – worse when the cap was lowered to $25 by senators on the fly. They ignored the hassle, personal risk and multiple fees involved in withdrawing money over several days to come up with rent, or the reality that ATMs don’t give out $5 bills anymore. When legislators later learned the cap also jeopardized federal funding – because recipients must have access to cash assistance with minimal fees – and fixed the law accordingly, the Kansas Department for Children and Families tried to proceed with the $25 limit anyway. At least an unequivocal e-mail Monday from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services persuaded DCF to rescind the cap. Too bad there’s apparently no stopping the rest of the awful law, which made Kansas a national laughingstock for banning welfare dollars from being spent for tattoos, piercings, massages, cruises, strip clubs, fortune tellers, lingerie and the like. (Stereotype much?) For poor families, though, its biggest impact will be shaving another year off lifetime benefits, which is why the state plans to warn food pantries and other charities to be ready. – Rhonda Holman