In a sweeping welfare reform measure designed to teach recipients to spend responsibly, Kansas Republican Governor Sam Brownback on Thursday signed a law that bans recipients from using the funds at swimming pools and movie theaters, according to various media reports.
The measure, believed to be the most stringent in the country, involves the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program in Kansas, which is designed to help families struggling with short-term financial hardships. CNN reports:
The TANF program provides families with benefits cards that can be used like a debit card to purchase groceries and gas or pay for things like rent and day care.
Under the law, recipients will be unable to use the card to purchase alcohol, tobacco and lottery tickets. They will also be barred from using the card in nail salons, in swimming pools and for fortunetellers.
“These welfare-to-work policies allow us to help more Kansans find a new path and career as they experience the dignity, independence, and economic security that lead to a brighter future,” Brownback wrote on Facebook, adding that the law would help “break the cycle of generational [poverty].”
The law will go into effect July 1. According to the Washington Post:
The measure — called the HOPE Act by supporters — “provides an opportunity for success,” Brownback said in a statement after signing the bill. “It’s about the dignity of work and helping families move from reliance on a government pittance to becoming self-sufficient by developing the skills to find a well-paying job and build a career.”
State Sen. Michael O’Donnell, a Wichita Republican who has advocated for the bill, said the legislation was designed to pressure those receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families to spend “more responsibly.”
“We’re trying to make sure those benefits are used the way they were intended,” O’Donnell, vice chair of the state senate’s standing committee on public health and welfare, told the Topeka Capital-Journal earlier this year. “This is about prosperity. This is about having a great life.”
It’s good to learn that Republican lawmakers in Kansas are interested in ending the cycle of poverty. But they should also lobby their congressional colleagues to stop blocking the minimum wage hike. Indeed, raising the minimum-wage is a better means of achieving their goal.