JEFFERSON CITY - A "downright failure" is what Sen. David Sater, R-southwest Missouri, called the current welfare situation in Missouri in front of the Seniors, Family, and Children committee.
Chairman Sater testified on Tuesday, January 20, to his committee about his bill that would impose restrictions on two of the state's largest welfare programs: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), once known as food stamps.
The bill would reduce the lifetime limit a person can be on TANF. from five years to two. Sater said that would encourage TANF members to hold a job and be able to be independent from the government sooner.
"The problem we are trying to solve is to get more people back to work," Sater said. "And if we are successful in doing that we will have some funds left over to use for other programs."
Missouri would not be the first to limit TANF. assistance to two years. According to the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities, Delaware currently have a two year time limit for lifetime assistance.
One member who spoke in opposition of the bill was Colleen Coble, the director of the Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.
Coble said that the limitation on TANF. would hurt women who are using it to leave violent relationships.
"The majority of those who go to the Missouri domestic violence program are either currently eligible for TANF or at some point of their life they have been on it," Coble said.
If the lifetime limit of TANF. is reduced to two years, Coble says that will not be enough time for women to leave an abusive relationship.
"24-months lifetime may not be [enough]," said Coble. "It is not uncommon for you to return to the relationship that you have escaped...that is a very common situation that you return just to be certain that you have done everything you can to keep the family together."
The bill would also would impose restrictions on SNAP, the old food stamp program by imposing requirements to be working, receiving an education, or actively searching for a job A suspended recipient could reapply with proof of participation in a work activity.
Sater has proposed that the extra budget money saved on welfare reform would go towards child care assistance for single parent households, education assistance, and job training for individuals receiving benefits under such programs.
He said he planned to have his committee vote on the bill next week.