Opinion Columns & Blogs

Brownback’s welfare-to-work claims questionable

Gov. Sam Brownback joined New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez in writing a Washington Times commentary urging their colleagues around the country “not to renew work waivers for able-bodied adults without dependent children who are on food assistance and, instead, help lift millions off of welfare and transition them to meaningful jobs as a result.” But some Kansans would say the Brownback administration and Legislature do not “help lift” people off welfare as much as kick them off. The governor has used policy changes to make it much harder to qualify for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and also tightened eligibility requirements for food stamps and child care assistance. A 36-month lifetime limit for TANF also goes into effect in January, as part of that new law barring the use of welfare assistance for massages, cruises and the like. What are the odds that Brownback and his legislative allies look for more inspiration to Arizona, which next July will cut off TANF benefits after 12 months rather than 24? Yet according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s latest Kids Count data, Kansas had 132,000 children living in poverty, or 19 percent, in 2013, compared with 121,000 and 18 percent in 2009. – Rhonda Holman