Opinion Columns & Blogs

Gov. Sam Brownback: Commonsense welfare reform is working in Kansas


A socialist candidate for president took great exception last week to the success of our state’s welfare-to-work programs, saying that we are “beating up on the poor.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., wants to revive the same bloated government programs that so dramatically failed those in need throughout 50 years of the “war on poverty.” Rather than moving people out of poverty, government welfare programs keep people trapped in a system of reliance and dependence on the government.

Kansas implemented commonsense reforms for able-bodied adults without children. These are healthy men and women, with no disabilities or children. The requirement was simple: To continue receiving food stamps, they needed to either apply for a job or participate in job training.

Recently, the Foundation for Government Accountability analyzed data that matched 41,000 food stamps recipients as they moved off of welfare and into the workforce. It matched the records of those individuals with their employment record at the Kansas Department of Labor.

Here is what they found:

▪  Half of these Kansans were employed within three months of leaving food stamps.

▪  They began earning money rather than depending on a government subsidy, and their income rose on average by 127 percent within one year of leaving food stamps.

▪  We are seeing those incomes continue to grow as people progress to full-time work and better wages, making them more financially secure and independent.

Prior to the work requirement, only 13 percent of able-bodied adults without children were working. That number has now risen to 35 percent, demonstrating that the vast majority have better lives today than before the work requirement went into effect.

We now see people formerly reliant on a government stipend motivated to work and earn more than just money: They gain self-worth, dignity and a hopeful future. Kansans and Americans understand the value of hard work and the dignity of independence.

After 50 years and billions of dollars invested in failed government programs designed to combat poverty, Kansas is leading the way in helping people find a path to self-sufficiency.

Sam Brownback is governor of Kansas.