BILL TO REMOVE CAP ON WELFARE BENEFITS FOR KIDS

By Bob Katzen

The Senate 37-1, approved a bill that repeals the current law that denies an additional $100 per month 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. The House has approved its own version of the bill and the Senate version now goes to the House for consideration.

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.

“I have heard countless personal accounts from many families who are hurt by this cap on kids,” said Sen. Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett), the Senate sponsor of the proposal. “Because their benefits are so low, parents with ‘capped’ children struggle to meet their families’ basic needs. For instance, they often can’t pay for enough diapers to keep their child clean, dry and healthy. And they are forced to make painful choices about which necessities they can afford. We know that it’s time to take action to repeal this outdated, ineffective and unjust policy, and show that we value all children equally, regardless of the circumstances of their birth.”

“I think it’s unfair to ask the constituents back home to pay for a benefit for others that they don’t get themselves,” said Sen. Don Humason (R-Westfield), the only opponent of the bill. He said the Legislature should have a big heart and take care of people but noted he also needs to listen to his constituents who tell him they are having a difficult time making ends meet and are limiting the number of children they have. He said his constituents tell him they are not eligible for any welfare benefits but are forced to pay these benefits for others who decide to have more children.

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