Don't Let Them Get Away With It

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Progressive Mass volunteers have been leading the charge on behalf of economic justice for working people (part of that work is working with Raise Up Massachusetts to put minimum wage and earned sick time benefits on the ballot; sign up here to help), but we cannot forget that we are still fighting for basic dignity and support for those on Transitional Assistance.

Get Up to Speed --

  • Why a favorite conservative talking point -- that “welfare pays” -- is dead wrong: the great progressive, former Northampton Mayor Clare Higgins, takes on the Cato Institute, and the likes Rep. Shauna O'Connell (R. Taunton) and the Boston Herald who’ve been parroting that line.

WHAT'S NEXT?

Our partners in the welfare reform coalition have worked hard to develop a good bill -- one that helps people truly transition from poverty back to the self-sufficiency and the workforce. It creates REAL welfare reform which includes education, training and assistance with transportation. We have been advocating with lawmakers to include vital provisions noted below.

Unfortunately, in our assessment, legislators appear unlikely to follow our lead -- they are too anxious about the Shauna Show and the despicable lie that welfare recipients are lazy, cheating bums who are taking taxpayers for a ride.

DON'T LET THEM GET AWAY WITH IT

Help change the narrative on social media and the blogosphere, using the #AssaultonPoor and #MApoli hashtags. Talk to your networks and bring them up to speed. And -- tell legislators:

We see what you’re doing, and it’s time to Stop the Assault on the Poor.

It’s time to enact meaningful reform -- the kind that truly assists people in making the transition to a more secure future.

Stop stigmatizing poverty; don’t put more roadblocks in the way of returning our most vulnerable neighbors back to economic stability and self-sufficiency.

WHAT A GOOD BILL WOULD LOOK LIKE:

Pathways to Work and Financial Stability

(1) Promote participation in education, training and job development, leading to sustainable employment. 

Increase recipients’ access to education, training, and employment programs, including those that integrate adult education with vocational skills training. Establish effective programs that include on-the-job training, internships including paid internships at state agencies, paid work study for college participants, coaching and support for recipients in college to ensure successful completion, case management, job placement and retention for up to two years. Allow participants to meet the welfare work requirement through participation in education and training beyond the current 12- month limit.

(2) Conduct individualized employability assessments to identify and address barriers to employment 

Designate experienced entities to administer assessments, prepare recipients’ economic development plans, and connect recipients with programs and services best suited to their needs. Protect families with unaddressed barriers.

(3) Support the transition to paid work

Provide transportation assistance so recipients can get to training and work. Simplify rather than increase the frequency and means of verifying job search, to lessen the burden on recipients and DTA. Ease the “cliff effect” by raising the amount parents can earn before losing eligibility for benefits.

(4) Promote financial stability

Eliminate asset limits and modify lump sum disqualification rules so families can build resources to weather financial storms, own a reliable car, plan for the future, and move off assistance. Set aside $148.50/month for TAFDC families in shelter instead of lowering their grants by that amount, so they can have the money needed to move out of shelter. Support vulnerable teens by providing them with financial assistance and shelter at any stage of pregnancy. 

Invest in Program Integrity

Modernize management practices. 

Make better use of technology to improve agency accountability, customer service, and program outcomes. Use computerized data matches with cost-effective, reliable data sources to facilitate the application process and verify eligibility for benefits. Improve record keeping with electronic document imaging.

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