Local lawmakers unveil plan to reform Pennsylvania’s welfare system

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HARRISBURG, DAUPHIN COUNTY( WBRE/WYOU) – Two state lawmakers have announced several bills, that they say, will give Pennsylvania families “an opportunity to improve their quality of life, while tackling waste, fraud and abuse from within the current system.”

“While the Commonwealth continues to face harsh economic realities, the citizens are demanding greater accountability for how their tax dollars are being spent,” said Rep. Aaron Kaufer (R-Luzerne) said in an e-mailed release. “Welfare expenditures have become one of the most expensive items in the state budget. The major challenge is to separate those who are truly needy and eligible for state assistance from those who are not and are taking advantage of taxpayers.”

Kaufer and Mike Tobash (R-Schuylkill/Dauphin) specifically focused on three of the bills in the package at a Capitol press conference on Tuesday, including the following:

  • House Bill 1659, sponsored by Tobash, would prohibit the Department of Human Services from applying for waivers of the work requirement for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients. The bill would require able-bodied adults without dependents to work, perform community service, participate in a work program or be enrolled as a full-time student in order to receive SNAP benefits.
  • House Bill 1788, sponsored by House Majority Policy Committee Chairman Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin), would eliminate the extended Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits beyond the five-year time span, known as E-TANF, and would establish a cumulative 48-month lifetime limit.
  • A bill not yet introduced, to be sponsored by Kaufer, would establish a pilot program that encourages companies to hire individuals receiving welfare. It would allow TANF recipients to continue to collect their welfare benefits, plus a wage for a 20-hour week. The pay is graded after six months until after one year the individual is paid for a full 40 hours of work at which time the benefits are eliminated.
  • “After the budget experience my House colleagues and I just went through, I believe we need to work on bringing cost-saving measures to the forefront of our legislative priority list,” Tobash said. “Additionally, this package of bills builds on the understanding that work and strong families are the foundation on which we will build our future. We need to help people gain independence, not continue a life of dependence. We thank the members of our leadership team who have focused on this issue in the past, and are happy to be working on this issue again in 2018.”

“After the budget experience my House colleagues and I just went through, I believe we need to work on bringing cost-saving measures to the forefront of our legislative priority list,” Tobash said. “Additionally, this package of bills builds on the understanding that work and strong families are the foundation on which we will build our future. We need to help people gain independence, not continue a life of dependence. We thank the members of our leadership team who have focused on this issue in the past, and are happy to be working on this issue again in 2018.”

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