Welfare recipients in Kansas will soon be unable to take out more than $25 a day from the ATM if Gov. Sam Brownback (R) signs a new bill into law this week. Supporters of the bill say it’s designed to force those receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families fund to find employment.
No other state in the U.S. currently limits how much money welfare recipients are able to withdraw on their benefits cards, which act as debit cards. The bill, House Bill 2258, prohibits Kansas residents from spending their benefits at movie theaters, nail salons, pools, spas, casinos, jewelry stores, liquor stores, theme parks, horse or dog racing tracks, cruise ships, tattoo studios, piercing parlors and other locations deemed nonessential.
“I think we are simply saying to people, ‘If you are asking for assistance in this state, you’re sort of less than other people and we’re going to tell you how and where to spend your money,’” Kansas Rep. Carolyn Bridges, a Democrat, said during a legislature debate, as quoted by the Associated Press.
The bill also limits how long a person can receive benefits at 36 months unless they otherwise prove they’ve experienced extraordinary duress because of sexual assault or similarly overwhelming difficulty. In that case they receive benefits for an additional 12 months.
It also prevents anyone with two or more felony drug convictions from receiving benefits, as well as anyone who tests positive on a state drug test.
Brownback - - who pundits say is trying to turn his social policies into law, and thus more difficult to overturn, before he leaves office - - has supported similar legislation in the past. More than 23,000 people have stopped receiving state benefits since Brownback took the oath of office in 2011.
The state poverty rate has increased, though, with 21.6 percent of the children in Kansas living below the poverty line, according to a November 2014 study. At least 14 percent of Kansas residents live in poverty, according to the 2012 Census, the most recent figure available.