/Bill would help Mississippi welfare recipients create savings accounts

Bill would help Mississippi welfare recipients create savings accounts

Sen. John Horhn (D-Jackson), co-author of Senate Bill 26334 with Sen. Chris Caughman (R-Mendenhall) said that 17 of the 100 most bankrupted communities are located in Mississippi. Horhn stated that the program would be similar to those run by most other states and would be funded with federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families money up to $1 million. The goal is to help people get off welfare. Horhn stated that it would assist poor families to open savings accounts and provide financial literacy training. This would not impact their eligibility for TANF benefits. It would be available to those with a net income of less than $10,000 and no more than 3,700 people. Horhn stated that he believes this is a smart use of resources, and helps people become financially independent and financial literacy. “Forty states are doing it, and they’re seeing people taken off the welfare rolls.” However, the Senate committees passed the measure. This triggered philosophical and political debate. The bill passed the committee with a “reverser,” which means it couldn’t be passed into law without more discussion and modifications. “I appreciate your efforts here, but I am concerned that this is a financial incentivizing from taxpayers’ money… federal funds are still taxpayers’ money,” stated Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville). This program is a double whammy for taxpayers. No one is suggesting that we shouldn’t teach financial literacy. However, this takes dollars away from taxpayers and redistributes them to other taxpayers.” Hohrn responded that TANF “is a programme with a cycle in dependency and this program is trying to end that cycle and provide economic independence.” Sen. David Parker (R-Olive Branch) also defended the bill and asked whether those who are philosophically opposed spending tax dollars can pick and choose which times they support that philosophy. Parker noted that Mississippi still has tens to millions of dollars worth of untapped TANF funds. Mississippi’s welfare program has been ravaged by scandals and federal criminal investigations, as well as charges of millions of dollars being allegedly stolen or misappropriated. READ MORE: Mississippi’s welfare program saw its lowest spending in 2020 after a massive scandal. The savings program proposed would provide matching funds of up to $2,000 for a qualifying individual and $4,000 for families. Beneficiaries would receive financial literacy training and would be restricted in the amount they could spend their savings on large purchases such as college education, home purchase, or a vehicle for work.