With more than 1.5 million of his constituents facing poverty, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) decided yesterday was the right day to sign the Midwest’s “toughest welfare time limit” into law. While Michigan already had a four-year restriction on benefits, the new law sets a stricter limit on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) that will leave tens of thousands of residents without assistance on Oct. 1. According to the state’s Department of Human Services, the new policy will kick 29,700 children out of the aid program:
Gilda Jacobs of the Michigan League for Human Services said she expects about 41,000 people to lose their cash assistance payments on Oct. 1 when the state’s new budget year begins. That includes 29,700 children, according to the Michigan Department of Human Services.
“We’re very, very concerned,” Jacobs said. “As the days go by, new people will be meeting the 48-month limit. … More will be falling off that cliff.”
The new law will reduce the number of children and adults receiving cash assistance by nearly a fifth, from more than 221,000 to around 180,000. Enforcing a four-year limit will save the state more than $60 million annually, according to a House Fiscal Agency analysis.
Snyder justifies the new law as a way to “return cash assistance to its original intent as a transitional program to help families while they work toward self-sufficiency.” An official in Snyder’s Department of Human Services simply stated, “Michigan can no longer afford to provide lifetime assistance.”
However, while saving $60 million on the backs of children and low-income families, Snyder decided corporations deserved a $1.7 billion tax cut. That is about “$30 in corporate tax cuts for every dollar saved in welfare benefit cuts.” Shifting the burden to low-income families, however, is well-worn territory for Snyder.
11,000 families have already received letters notifying them that they will lose financial help next month. As Jacobs notes, these families who, “through no fault of their own, can’t find a job” will have to fight harder to survive in a state with the third-highest unemployment rate in the nation. And by opting to slash the earned income tax benefit and reduce the availability of unemployment benefits, Snyder and Michigan Republicans are pushing these families off the financial cliff with barely any net to catch them.