CAP ON WELFARE BENEFITS FOR KIDS

By Bob Katzen

The Senate 37-3, overrode Gov. Charlie Baker’s veto of 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. The House overrode the veto on April 10 and with the Senate override, the bill now becomes law.

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.

“Eliminating the family cap should be accompanied by other reforms to the [welfare] program designed to align the eligibility determination with federal standards and support recipients as they return to work,” said Baker in his veto message.

The governor added that under his proposal, “homeless families would no longer see a benefit reduction for accessing temporary shelter.”

“We are thrilled that our commonwealth has repealed the cruel and unjust family cap,” said Jacquelynne Bowman, Executive Director of Greater Boston Legal Services. “This is an important step in helping Massachusetts act on the promise of supporting very low-income families to meet their children’s basic needs.”

“Lifting the Cap on Kids will make a critical difference in the lives of 8,700 of the lowest income children in Massachusetts,” said Deborah Harris of the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute. “With today’s vote, Massachusetts has affirmed the dignity and humanity of every child.”

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