Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) today vetoed Senate Bill 24, the Strengthening Missouri Families Act, legislation that would have drastically improved the welfare system in the Show-Me State and would have helped thousands of Missourians move out of government dependency into self-sufficiency.
In the Heartland Institute’s 2015 Welfare Reform Report Card, Missouri earned an “F” grade for its dismal welfare policies, finishing dead-last among all states. By adopting the measures in SB 24, The Heartland Institute estimates Missouri’s welfare program could jump from its current rank of 50th up to 23rd.
The following statements from welfare policy experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Director of Marketing Gene Koprowski at [email protected] and 312/377-4000.
“Today, Gov. Nixon has done a disservice to thousands of Missouri welfare recipients desperately trying to escape poverty.
“Only 14.4 percent of Missouri welfare recipients are actively engaged in work activities. That means 85.6 percent of Missouri welfare recipients are receiving cash assistance without actively pursuing employment, education, community service, or other activities intended to move people out of poverty.
“Strengthening the sanctions regime for failure to participate in work activities and requiring Temporary Assistance for Needy Families aid recipients to begin work immediately upon receiving benefits would cause a substantial increase in work participation in Missouri. That participation would make it more likely recipients would gain the necessary skills to earn an income sufficient for them to leave welfare rolls permanently at some point in the future rather than get stuck in an endless cycle of poverty.”
“Critics of the Strengthening Missouri Families Act claim it’s unfair to ask individuals in Missouri to find jobs in order to receive benefits, especially in a struggling economy, but recipients can satisfy work requirements in a variety of ways, including by entering a state-run work training program, attending college, or engaging in job-search activities.
“Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show out of 100 full-time working adults, only four live in poverty, and out of 100 part-time working adults, 15 live in poverty. It would seem to make sense then that successful anti-poverty reforms should stress the importance of work as a solution to remove families from poverty.”
“Not only would welfare reform help thousands of Missourians move from poverty to self-sufficiency, it would send a signal to the rest of the nation Democrats and Republicans are willing to work together, as they did in the 1990s in Washington, DC, to put partisan differences aside in the pursuit of improving the lives of Americans still struggling to recover from the 2008 economic crash.”
The Heartland Institute is a 31-year-old national nonprofit organization headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our website or call 312/377-4000.