Program is a sensible welfare-work addition
A new plan would let working welfare recipients hold on to more of their benefits.
WITH a new program
that would allow families and individuals on welfare to retain benefits if they have jobs, the state hopes to motivate them to stay employed.
The program could help welfare recipients get back on their feet and ultimately gain financial independence. It is a sensible strategy that should work well in combination with the state's other welfare-employment efforts.
Welfare recipients who are employed generally have benefits reduced by at least 64 percent, based on how much they earn, primarily to reduce costs of government assistance. The policy, however, seems to give people little incentive to work since their income stays the same whether they work or not.
The state Department of Human Services is proposing to allow recipients with jobs to retain 100 percent of benefits in the first two years of welfare eligibility regardless of income, which usually is at low levels anyway. Benefits would drop in the third and fourth years of their five-year eligibility as they gain work experience and the potential for better-paying jobs.
Bonuses totaling $8,250 over two years would go to recipients who exit the welfare program within two years and get full-time jobs. Rental assistance of $200 a month for five years also would be provided to those past eligibility if they work at least 20 hours a week.
The purpose of the program is to get people working while lending them a helping hand. Some would argue that allowing them to keep full benefits is too much of an indulgence, but the short-term support gives recipients time to adjust to jobs and to managing money.
Coupled with services that help train and find them jobs as soon as they apply for welfare, the new program could move more people off the dole.
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