Georgia Applies to Expand Welfare Work Requirements

Published September 8, 2017

Georgia state officials have submitted a plan to the federal government for permission to phase in work requirements for more of the state’s food stamp recipients.

On August 1, Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) officials sent the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) agency their plan for bringing back work requirements in 60 counties.

First waived in 2008, work requirements have already been reinstated in 24 Georgia counties, including Hall County. After DFCS began reviving federally mandated work requirements, the number of able-bodied individuals in Hall County receiving welfare benefits declined by more than 50 percent between January 2016 and January 2017, Gainesville (Georgia) Times reporter Nick Bowman reported on July 17.

Hall County’s average monthly unemployment rate declined by 0.4 percentage points between 2016 and 2017, from 4.8 percent to 3.9 percent, Bowman wrote.

In an email, DFCS communications director Susan Boatwright told Budget & Tax News the agency expected FNS to approve or reject the plan “within 45 days or so.”

‘Skin in the Game’

Benita Dodd, vice president of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, says the national government should encourage states to measure success by how many people no longer need taxpayers’ help.

“It’s really important that states get some skin in the game,” Dodd said. “When they start having the dollars be impacted by how they manage those dollars, then I think we’ll find that most states [begin] looking at how to steer this population to want the jobs, how to find the jobs; how to match them, how to train them, and how to turn them into self-sufficient role models in their communities.”

Helping the Truly Needy

Jason Pye, vice-president of legislative affairs for FreedomWorks, says work requirements for able-bodied welfare recipients ensure the money is there to help those who truly need it.

“In order to maintain a competitive economy, you have to ensure you’re spending frugally, and on the things you really should be spending on,” Pye said. “Welfare should always be there for those who truly need it, but not for childless, able-bodied adults. If you’re able to work, of course you should have a job.”

Making Welfare Work

Pye says welfare should be about getting people back to work.

“It’s all about upward mobility,” Pye said. “That’s what we saw in 1996, when we passed welfare reform at the federal level.

“Work requirements actually do work,” Pye said. “They encourage people to get a job and get back to work.”