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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Michigan's 48-month lifetime assistance cutoff, to be signed by Gov. Snyder into law this week

LANSING, MI - APRIL 13: Thousands of union mem...Image by Getty Images via 
Michigan’s Legislator, back in session from a nearly five week paid time off summer recess period, swiftly took action to end state based assistance benefits for up to 12,600 women and their dependent children on Wednesday, August 24th

Starting October 1st, welfare recipients will be subject to a 48-month cap on assistance benefits programs.

Sheryl Thompson, acting deputy director at DHS, said to the Detroit Free Press notices to those affected will go out next week. Many, if not all, will remain eligible for other forms of assistance, including food stamps and day care subsidies, she said.

DHS also will provide two months of rental assistance, and caseworkers will provide intensive aid to job seekers.

"We will be providing every tool necessary" to enter the work force, Sheryl Thompson  acting Deputy Director for Michigan’s Department of Human Services said. "But Michigan can no longer afford to provide lifetime assistance."

But by robbing Peter to pay Paul, Michigan can afford the extensions of tax breaks to the tune of $1.5 billion dollars to C & S corporations on the backs of state citizens, including the working poor.  This idea promoted by Gov. Rick Snyder (R), overwhelmingly passed by the Republican Super Majority in the state House and Senate chambers and then quickly signed into law by the Governor.

Marian Kramer, a leader at the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, said the legislative action would lead to more people squatting in vacant homes without the resources to buy food or the other necessities of life.

"For them to consciously pass something like this, given the economic crisis we're in, just shows how much they hate that section of the working class," she said. "But let some corporations go up and ask for tax breaks, and they'll break their necks to be lap dogs for them." 

Ironically, the same C & S based corporations who received the generous tax breaks aren’t hiring robustly, as Michigan unemployment rate hit 10.9% in August 2011.   

The 48-month lifetime benefit legislation, is supposed to save $60 million from the state budget in 2011-12. The measure House Bill 4409, was approved with almost entire GOP support, on a 73 to 34 vote.

Both the new state time limits and the revised application of the federal welfare cap contain fewer circumstances under which the limits are suspended for hardship exceptions. State workers will have little flexibility about how to issue hardship exceptions, except in the case of pregnant women and severely disabled individuals.

Thompson told the Detroit Free Press, that she believes virtually all of the 12,000-plus cases scheduled for cut-off from households capable of producing some earned income.

Advocates for poor people were critical of the changes, which they said will cause a spike in poverty and slow Michigan's economic recovery.

"It is highly unfortunate and counterproductive to the state's future economy  to casually dismiss the economic reality of thousands of Michigan children," said Tom Hickson, vice president of the Michigan Catholic Conference.

Gov. Snyder is expected to quickly sign the legislation in law, by the end of the week.
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Reach Out Job Search Radio (ROJSRadio) will have Michigan State Representative Fred Durhal, Jr.-D (District-6) on live as a featured guest next week to discuss the impact of HB-4409, Public Act #4 and a host of other measures passed by the GOP Super-Majority in the state House and Senate, which will hurt Michigan's poor and working class citizens. Listen to our show LIVE next Thursday, September 1, 2011 starting at 8:00 PM EST.

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