The Kansas wholly-owned Senate is slated to approve draconian restrictions on welfare recipients, some of which are the most petty, mean-spirited ones in the nation.
Kansas welfare recipients will be unable to get more than $25 per day in benefits under a new law sent this week to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback's desk by the state legislature.
The bill also prohibits welfare recipients from spending their benefits at certain types of businesses, including liquor stores, fortune tellers, swimming pools and cruise ships.
"We're trying to make sure those benefits are used the way they were intended," state Rep. Michael O'Donnell (R) said, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal. "This is about prosperity. This is about having a great life."
That $25 per day limit means those recipients will not be able to pay their rent without withdrawing said $25 with a corresponding 85-cent processing fee on a series of days ahead of the due date. I guess they get to choose between eating and paying rent?
There were a few Senators who spoke against the bill. They deserve applause.
“We pat ourselves on the back that our TANF rolls have gone down exponentially and we say it’s because all those people are now working. We don’t know that and I’m guessing its not the truth,” said Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka.
Kelly said weaving regulations limiting access to federally funded programs into state law was a strategy to make it more difficult for future governors to unravel Brownback’s vision of welfare.
“Now what we want to do is take the same mean-spirited policies that we’ve implemented over the years and we want to codify them,” she said. “I can only assume that the motive behind this is truly malice of intent.”
You go, Senator Kelly!
“This is a troubling elitism here that this body is embracing during what, for many of us, is Holy week,” said Sen. David Haley, D-Kansas City. “We really have to look in the mirror. We can’t say something on Wednesday and shift gears on Sunday and think somebody isn’t paying attention.”
Oh look! Someone who is behaving like a Christian should! Good job, Sen. Haley.
Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, D-Wichita, argued against that amendment, noting that some people used TANF aid to pay rent and utility bills. The amendment would require Kansans to make multiple trips to an ATM to secure sufficient cash to cover those obligations, she said.
“This is ludicrous,” Faust-Goudeau said. “It is outrageous. This amendment is totally unrealistic.”
Every amendment Democrats tried to make to protect people in need was voted down by the Republican majority. When Senator Michael O'Donnell says it's about prosperity, he's really talking about prosperity for his Koch overlords, not real people.
One Republican Senator complained that it was "hurtful" to have the bill characterized as malicious and mean. I'm not sure how these draconian and punitive restrictions can be characterized any other way, but if the worn-out shoe fits, Senator O'Donnell, wear it.