HOUSE APPROVES CAP ON WELFARE BENEFITS FOR KIDS

By Bob Katzen

The House 155-1, approved and sent to the Senate a bill that repeals the current law that denies an additional $100 in welfare benefits to children conceived while – or soon after – the family began receiving welfare benefits or, if they had received family welfare benefits in the past. The law was adopted in 1995 as part of a welfare reform package that was aimed at discouraging families already receiving public support from having more children.

Supporters of the repeal said that there are some 8,700 children who currently fall under the cap in the Bay State. These families are barred from receiving an additional $100 a month to help support that child. They said there are no facts to back up the charge that families are having more children in order to get the additional $100.

“The House overwhelmingly supported family cap repeal … with a nearly unanimous vote of 155-1,” said Deborah Harris of the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute. “We hope that the urgency and support demonstrated by the House will help lift the cap on kids very soon so children will not have to wait any longer for this injustice to end.”

“I’m proud today that once again the House is voting to repeal the family welfare cap, a policy which denies assistance to our neediest families,” said then bill’s sponsor Rep. Marjorie Decker (D-Cambridge), Chair of the Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery. “The family cap has been a failed policy since it was enacted, and it has only served to deny families living in poverty the resources that they desperately need. Today, families across Massachusetts can be assured the state sees them, it recognizes their needs, and will continue to meet their needs today and tomorrow.”

Rep. Colleen Garry (D-Dracut), the only opponent of the bill, did not respond to repeated attempts by Beacon Hill Roll Call to get a comment on her vote.

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