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Wed July 13, 2011
Michigan Senate passes welfare limit, raises wage cap
Here's some additional material on the welfare limit bill passed by the Michigan Senate today from Rick Pluta.
The Michigan Senate split along party lines to approve a four-year lifetime limit on welfare benefits.
The House is expected to concur with the Senate version, and Governor Rick Snyder will almost certainly sign it because the budget relies on more than 60 million dollars in savings from the benefits cap.
It also means 12,600 families will lose benefits come October first.
Gilda Jacobs is the president of the Michigan League for Human Services.
“We really don’t know what the unintended consequences are going to be. I do not believe that the faith community and the non-profit world has the ability to absorb folks who are going to need extra help.”
Low-income families will still qualify for food assistance and Medicaid.
The measure will allow people on public assistance to earn more before losing benefits. It will also exempt parents and spouses caring for a handicapped person from the time limit.
The Michigan Senate has passed a bill that will limit welfare benefits to 48-months according to the Detroit News.
From the article:
Welfare benefits are limited to 48-months under a bill passed today in a special summer session of the state Senate.
Democrats voted as a bloc against the legislation, which passed 24-12.
The two-bill package would extend to all recipients a 48-month limit that now applies only to those eligible to participate in the state's Work First program and who live in an area where the Jobs, Education and Training (JET) program is available. The 48-month limit for those enrolled in JET is due to expire Sept. 30.
Eliminating that sunset will throw 12,600 families, with an average monthly benefit of $515, off the welfare rolls Oct. 1. Savings to the state would total $77.4 million, including $65 million in the general fund. The bill includes some exemptions to the cap, and the Department of Human Services would be allowed to exempt up to 6,100 cases during the 2012 fiscal year.
Republicans have said reforms are needed because Michigan cannot afford to extend lifetime welfare benefits. They included some exemptions to allow the state Department of Human Services to waive the cap for some recipients, and also raised the amount families can earn while still receiving benefits.
Southfield Democrat Sen. Vincent Gregory unsuccessfully introduced an amendment to exempt from the time limit people who live in counties where unemployment is 25 percent or more higher than the state unemployment rate.
"(The cap) will result in families losing much needed assistance in the worst economic downturn in years," Gregory said. "We should be lifting up our families and encouraging them to self sufficiency.
"Ninety percent of these families are working poor … often trying to support children and just barely getting by. We are pushing these families to homelessness."
The bill also disallows 19-year-olds from receiving benefits if they live in a home receiving welfare benefits, and prohibits the use of welfare funds to purchase lottery tickets, alcohol and tobacco.-Brian Short, Michigan Radio Newsrooom