Kansas’ welfare law that was just signed by Governor Sam Brownback bans cruise vacations, tattoos, swimming, movie theaters, and more for anyone who receives government assistance from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. House Bill 2258, also known as the HOPE Act, goes into effect on July 1, 2015, but already critics are claiming it will harm the poor in Kansas.
In a related report by the Inquisitr, reports claim that Anna Broom and Jordan Burford are demanding that taxpayers foot the bill for a $15,000 welfare wedding, which would include a fairy tale-like castle, a designer dress, champagne for the 50 guests, horse and carriage, and a honeymoon in Mexico.
Currently, the TANF program provides Kansas’ welfare recipients with EBT cards which are used like debit cards to make purchases. The new law plans to limit the amount of cash which can be withdrawn from ATM machines to $25 per day. Welfare recipients will still be capable of obtaining larger amounts in order to pay for basic necessities like housing, but low income families will not be allowed to use government assistance to directly pay for cruise vacations, tattoo parlors, movie theaters, dog and horse racing facilities, spas, alcohol, cigarettes, fortune telling and a long list of other businesses.
Miriam Krehbiel, the chief executive of the United Way chapter, told KCUR they are uncertain why Kansas’ welfare law specifically targets cruise vacations since it seems a little out place.
“People on public assistance shouldn’t be spending what little money they have on things like cruises,” said Krehbiel. “But what I don’t get is how we think that someone on public assistance – as little as it is – would ever be able to save up enough money to be on a cruise ship?”
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback explained that the intention with the new law was to crack down on fraud and waste within the welfare system.
“We know that the most charitable act is not handing someone a check but helping that person get a job that sustains them and their families for generations to come,” said Gov. Brownback. “Our focus is on helping people develop the skills to find and keep a job. Instead of focusing on a war against poverty, we will focus on fighting for the poor among us by offering them hope and opportunity.”
According to reports, about two percent of Kansas’ welfare recipients lost cash assistance due to fraud, which took place between between July 2014 and February 2015. Barry Feaker, the director of the Topeka Rescue Mission, believes that banning certain types of purchases is reasonable, but he’s uncertain how the law will be enforced.
“I’m in agreement with that,” Feaker said. “People with limited resources shouldn’t be using those resources to gamble or buy alcohol. But how are we going to enforce that prohibition? Again, that concerns me as well.”
Shannon Cotsoradis, chief executive with the advocacy group Kansas Action for Children, also believes that children may be caught in the crossfire.
“We’re losing sight of the big picture here,” said Cotsoradis. “In our desire to penalize the adults for what are perceived as poor choices or negative behaviors, we’re going to be penalizing large numbers of very poor children because their parents won’t have access to cash assistance and there will be less food in the house.”
Cotsoradis also feels Kansas’ welfare law feels “mean-spirited” since it “seems to make a statement about how we feel about the poor.” What do you think?
[Image via Liberal America]