Lawmaker Speaks Out Against Proposed Welfare Cap

Friday, August 19, 2011

LANSING - State Representative David E. Rutledge (Ypsilanti) today decried legislation that would limit Michigan residents’ access to state assistance. The Annie E. Casey Foundation reported Wednesday that the child poverty rate in Michigan rose 64 percent between 2000 and 2009, and earlier this week it was reported that the state unemployment rate increased to 10.9 percent in July.

“Michigan is still early in recovering from a major economic crisis,” Rutledge said, “and this is simply not the time to impose restrictions on low-income families. People throughout the state find themselves in need of assistance, through no fault of their own.”

The bills, House Bills 4409 and 4410, would institute a retroactive 48-month cap on cash assistance benefits for most adults, beginning Oct. 1. Individuals with disabilities and seniors will be exempt, but there is some question as to whether children would be fully exempt from the limit, according to the non-partisan Senate Fiscal Agency. It is estimated that 600 to 900 Washtenaw County residents will be directly affected.

“I have spoken with people throughout our community about the impact this change will have on their families,” Rutledge said. “Combined with the cuts made earlier this year, this will be a huge blow, when families are most in need of help.” The legislation was first introduced in Jan., and passed both the House and the Senate in recent months. Rep. Rutledge voted against both bills in May. The legislation is now held up due to lack of immediate effect, which requires a two-thirds vote from both the House and Senate. The immediate effect vote would impact the Oct. 1 start date.

“Washtenaw County is fortunate to have a broad network of support service organizations, but state cuts are placing an unsustainable burden on non-profit and other supportive organizations throughout the community. State government should be working to support families as Michigan emerges from a major economic downturn. Instead, the Legislature is eroding the safety net for low-income families,” said Rutledge.

Residents interested in learning about food assistance and other support programs available in the Ypsilanti community are encouraged to contact Rep. Rutledge toll-free at (855) 347-8054 or by email at davidrutledge@house.mi.gov.