No More Movies For Kansas Welfare Recipients On The Taxpayer’s Dime

The Kansas Senate has moved to advance a controversial piece of legislation that would limit the places a welfare recipient could spend their TANF benefits. The supporters of Kansas House Bill 2258 want to ensure taxpayer money is being used “responsibly” by recipients and not on items that they deem unnecessary like going to the movies, nail salon, theme park, or other entertainment venues.

According to Hutch News, Senator Michael O’Donnell led the advocacy for House Bill 2258. O’Donnell says the bill is designed to ensure recipients spend their money “more responsibly” and that funds are used in the way they were “intended.”

“We’re trying to make sure those benefits are used the way they were intended. This is about prosperity. This is about having a great life.”

The bill limits welfare funds received through TANF from being spent on items such as theme park admissions, movie theaters, casinos, jewelry stores, liquor stores, and tattoo parlors. The bill also discusses unusual items such as psychic consultations, lingerie stores, and fortune telling. In addition to the stipulations on where money can be spent, the bill also limits the amount of TANF money that can be withdrawn in a day to $25. The idea is that if the TANF money is harder to turn into cash, it will be harder to spend on unnecessary items.

In addition to limits on cash withdrawals and specific-item exclusions, the policy also requires able-bodied adults receiving temporary cash assistance to work, be looking for a job, or to enroll in job training. If they cannot prove they are doing something to obtain employment, they will not receive the funds. With the bill passing through the Kansas Senate and House, it is likely to be signed into law by Kansas Governor Sam Brownback this week with an anticipated start date of July 1.

“The governor believes strongly that employment is the most effective path out of poverty and he is supportive of work requirements that help people become self-sufficient.”

However, not everyone is supportive of the new measures and claim that the daily $25 ATM withdrawal limit may hinder families from being able to pay their bills. Kansas Representative Carolyn Bridges says that the bill makes those receiving assistance out to be “less than other people.”

“I just think we are simply saying to people, ‘If you are asking for assistance in this state, you’re sort of less than other people and we’re going to tell you how and where to spend your money.”

What do you think about the House Bill 2258? Should state’s limit where welfare recipients can spend their money or will it make it harder for families to pay essential bills?

[Image Credit: Getty Images/ Alex Wong]