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Archive for Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Kansas Gov.-elect Sam Brownback reiterates arguments against “marriage penalty” for those receiving welfare

Governor-elect Sam Brownback is interviewed in his transitional office at the Statehouse in Topeka. Brownback will take office as the new governor of Kansas Jan. 10, 2011.

Governor-elect Sam Brownback is interviewed in his transitional office at the Statehouse in Topeka. Brownback will take office as the new governor of Kansas Jan. 10, 2011.

January 4, 2011

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— In May 2008, U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., and David Blankenhorn wrote an op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal calling for an end to what they described as the “marriage penalty” for people receiving welfare.

Brownback and Blankenhorn, founder and president of the Institute for American Values, argued that poor people receiving public assistance were encouraged to stay unmarried because their combined incomes would make them ineligible for those benefits.

The research for the piece was done by the Institute for American Values and was part of a series titled “The Future of the Black Family.”

Brownback and Blankenhorn proposed allowing newly married couples to be allowed to receive all their benefits for the first three years of marriage.

“This adjustment should give newly married couples a sufficient grace period to realize the economic benefits of marriage — and save money to stabilize their financial situation — before government benefits cease,” they wrote.

Brownback and Blankenhorn then asked, “What’s the next step? We need to test this idea.”

If Brownback has his way, Kansas will be the place to test this idea.

Brownback, a Republican, will be sworn in as governor next week.

On Monday, Brownback reiterated his arguments to remove what he called disincentives to marriage.

“Studies show a healthy, loving family unit benefits not only the parents, but, more importantly, the children,” he said. “We will work to remove disincentives to marriage so more couples can marry without the fear of losing crucial state support during difficult financial times.”

Brownback spoke about the issue as he introduced the leaders of his health services team that will try to enact this effort. They are Robert Siedlecki, whom Brownback picked to be secretary of the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, and Dr. Robert Moser, tabbed as secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

SRS provides financial support to poor Kansans with cash assistance, child care help and food aid. In the last fiscal year, an average of 277,000 Kansans received food stamps each month, 37,000 received temporary assistance during an average month, and 20,300 received child care assistance.

SRS has been hit hard by state budget cuts over the past couple of years as tax revenues tanked during the recession. The agency hasn’t worked on the issue proposed by Brownback, according to SRS spokesman Steve Mock.

“I don’t know if we have identified it as a policy issue, but I’m sure we will be doing some work on it if it’s a priority for the new administration,” he said.

When asked to quantify the problem, Brownback said he didn’t know how many people were forgoing marriage to maintain welfare benefits. And, he said, he didn’t know how much it would cost taxpayers to continue those benefits.

Kansas Action for Children, which advocates on behalf of children and low-income families, said it wasn’t aware that the problem was a big deal.

In his op-ed piece, Brownback said the problem may be greater than many think. “Knowledge of the marriage penalty in poor neighborhoods is typically spread word of mouth,” he wrote. “This informal learning might actually increase the antimarriage impact of the penalty, by convincing nearly all poor couples that they will lose income if they marry, even though some (due to the complexity of regulations) will not.”

Comments

Bob Forer 3 years, 11 months ago

For once I gotta agree with Brownback.

mrbig 3 years, 11 months ago

I personally know of more than one person who is staying unmarried to not lose state benefits. I think this has merit.

Take_a_letter_Maria 3 years, 11 months ago

I would hope so since it takes two people in order to have a marriage. :-)

tolawdjk 3 years, 11 months ago

Problem might be bigger than people think.

Problem might be smaller than people think.

But by the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth, they are going to use Kansas tax dollars and turn the state into a social engineering laboratory!

Can't pay for the education of the kids they are putting into happy married homes. Haven't put a plan on how to bring jobs to the state. Can't fund the state retirement plans. But by all means make it easier for people to stay on the welfare line longer.

grammaddy 3 years, 11 months ago

Agreed. Sounds like another non-problem to me.Benefits SHOULD go down as income increases.Heaven forbid they should work on the problem of how to get the schools more money.Education is the best way out of poverty.

VTHawk 3 years, 11 months ago

The issue is that "income" isn't increasing via marriage, merely the appearance of income. Children raised by married parents (as opposed to merely cohabitating individuals) are almost certainly better-off. This is another example of perverse incentives disincentivizing responsible behavior.

Kat Christian 3 years, 11 months ago

People would not be on welfare if there were jobs available. Available jobs could be filled by these people if companies did not profile with such petty standards. I think most people want to work and feel useful, but when you have such stringent expectations of employees (and low pay) it burns a person out and discourages them from wanting to take that step toward working for certain organizations, therefore making it difficult for some people to obtain a job. I think the Dept. of Labor needs to investigate the hiring, supervising and/or retention factors of employees in this state. There is a strong practice of prejudices, profiling in companies. This is a small town (relatively) and it is very cliquey. I've seen it too many times. If you don't fit into the "group" or "clique" of that company's culture you don't belong and you are OUT. No empathy involved, just whatever they have the power to decide. Somebody needs to intercede for these people. There is no excuse why there is so much unemployment in this country. I think there are enough jobs for people, there are just too many obstacles in the way of people getting those jobs. Especially people over 40 years old. This is why the Government needs to intervene.

mrbig 3 years, 11 months ago

I don't think this would fix the problem, because if they manipulate the system by not getting married now- what is to stop them from getting divorced right before the three years is up to not lose benefits again?

Bob_Keeshan 3 years, 11 months ago

“Studies show a healthy, loving family unit benefits not only the parents, but, more importantly, the children,”

Sadly, Brownback's definition of what constitutes a "healthy, loving family unit" is quite narrow.

If he were really interested in encouraging marriage and healthy, loving family units he wouldn't be such a full-throated opponent of gay marriage.

But I suppose a healthy, loving family unit made up of a loving homosexual couple is worth talking about.

Carol Bowen 3 years, 11 months ago

SB has said that he will remain focused on the economy. The initiatives are rolling out, but what about the economy?

George_Braziller 3 years, 11 months ago

"When asked to quantify the problem, Brownback said he didn’t know how many people were forgoing marriage to maintain welfare benefits. And, he said, he didn’t know how much it would cost taxpayers to continue those benefits."

Ahhhh, yes. Let the rabid "moral" agenda begin.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 11 months ago

What it really means is that they have no idea how to address any of the real problems of the state, so they create one out of thin air and use it to distract from their failure to address the real ones.

Kat Christian 3 years, 11 months ago

I 2nd that emotion. Since companies don't want to hire 60 yrs old, let them retire.

Stuart Evans 3 years, 11 months ago

here comes the nanny state? We've been knee deep in nanny state for 80 years or better. the all powerful dome in Washington knows what we need, and have gone far, far out of their way to ensure that we're all doing exactly as we should. Brought to you exclusively by; Police State. Now with new and improved laws to keep you safe from yourself.

Bob_Keeshan 3 years, 11 months ago

You're confused about what a nanny state means. You apparently think it means hyperbole.

Sam Brownback doesn't want to be your Governor, he wants to be your father. Here is a concrete example of it. Talk about "knows what we need" and "keep you safe from yourself"... You kids need to get married!

Fossick 3 years, 11 months ago

Bingo. As soon as you assert that we need laws to keep us from hurting ourselves (as we did a century ago), the nanny state is not far behind - in fact, it's inevitable.

Brownback is not a small-government type and never has been, any more than Bush was. He's a compassionate conservative(TM), which means he's all about using government to improve the befuddled masses just as much as the Progressives who gave us the nanny state in the first place.

But I wonder how many of these newly-minted libertarians who suddenly don't believe in the nanny state would go even so far as to repeal seat belt laws. Not many, I'll bet. They want the nanny state, just not Brownback's version of it.

Lindsey Buscher 3 years, 11 months ago

"..."to realize the economic benefits of marriage"

So you are saying that there are other reasons for marriage other than the religious union of man and woman??? Don't let the gays hear this opinion...ooohhhh lordy, don't let the gays read this!!!

geekin_topekan 3 years, 11 months ago

Hah Har!!

In Nyawlins, the blacks were "looters", the whites were "searching for food".

It's all a matter of perspective.

getreal 3 years, 11 months ago

I am certainly not for penalizing poor people for marrying, however this simple minded plan solves nothing. Skip three years down the road, the couple is married with a child and now we yank half their income out from under them and say look three people can easily live on nothing. Is he serious? Financial issues is one of the leading causes of divorce.

How about creating some jobs, investing in our public school system, making health care affordable and accessible, and helping the disabled and elderly.

Those are long lasting investments that allow people to succeed in happy homes on their own terms, married or otherwise.

deec 3 years, 11 months ago

So a single parent who takes in a roommate or gets a second job loses benefits, but that same person, if they marry their roommate, doesn't? This doesn't seem fair, and may not be legal, since welfare programs are means-based.

deec 3 years, 11 months ago

So a single parent who takes in a roommate or gets a second job loses benefits, but that same person, if they marry their roommate, doesn't? This doesn't seem fair, and may not be legal, since welfare programs are means-based.

Jimo 3 years, 11 months ago

“Studies show a healthy, loving family unit benefits not only the parents, but, more importantly, the children."

So this policy will have an age cut-off? Maybe 60?

Or is the State going to be providing welfare to septuagenarian love-birds who pervert the God-given purpose of marriage: to procreate? Isn't this just a scheme to shift the marital responsibilities of a 90 year of man to his wife onto the taxpayers?

Will this policy have an age minimum? Maybe 22?

Or is the State going to encouraging irresponsible behavior by the young who aren't responsible enough to get their affairs into order before undertaking the holy and sacred duties of marriage? Isn't this just a scheme to make it easier for a 25 year old man to marry a 16 year old girl he got pregnant and send the tab to the taxpayers?

Seems to me Sam's social engineering plan is rife with unanticipated consequences and perverse incentives. Will Sam only be happy once Kansas has Bible-belt levels of divorce for temporary, 'scam the system' marriages?

ksriver2010 3 years, 11 months ago

Glad to see that Brownback is focusing on the economy first...

onceajhawkalwaysajhawk 3 years, 11 months ago

WTF....Our welfare system is broken PERIOD! Fix the system FIRST and then worry about the people who really deserve to be on it!

beaujackson 3 years, 11 months ago

IF A SINGLE PARENT HAS TO GO ON WELFARE MAYBE IT'S TIME TO THINK "ADOPTION".

beaujackson 3 years, 11 months ago

IF A SINGLE PARENT HAS TO GO ON WELFARE MAYBE IT'S TIME TO THINK "ADOPTION".

beaujackson 3 years, 11 months ago

IF A SINGLE PARENT HAS TO GO ON WELFARE MAYBE IT'S TIME TO THINK "ADOPTION".

beaujackson 3 years, 11 months ago

IF A SINGLE PARENT HAS TO GO ON WELFARE MAYBE IT'S TIME TO THINK "ADOPTION".

Nikki May 3 years, 11 months ago

Four posts? Really?

So, if one parent dies, maybe it's the one who brings in the most money, maybe it's not, you think the surviving parent should give up their child? For many, welfare is a temporary thing. Even in cases of divorce, people use it as a temporary help. This is probably one of the most ridiculous sentences I've read.

I do realize that some families don't get married so they don't have to claim the income for both adults. What needs to be done about that isn't give them money for a guaranteed three years. It needs to be figured out even if they aren't married. There should be documentation of both parents to decide what should be done. I know for child care they do that. If a child is claimed on the welfare at any point, the other parent needs to be taken into account.

The problem is when it's NOT the parent they are getting extra money from, this won't work. Maybe you are now seeing someone new that isn't the other parent. Or maybe you don't have kids. In this case, we are talking about say a poor woman marrying a rich guy (or the opposite) and STILL getting welfare money? I don't think so. It should all be based on income whether married or not.

Basically, if they are taking advantage of the system, then it's going to be hard to stop them. Let's not just add to it. And MARRIED doesn't mean stable. Many families are better off with one of the parents not there.

gudpoynt 3 years, 11 months ago

alternative photo caption:

"Govornor-elect Sam Brownback explains new discovery of right index finger."

tolawdjk 3 years, 11 months ago

"This was here in the office when I showed up this morning. Does anyone know what it is? Is this a joke, because I don't find it funny."

tolawdjk 3 years, 11 months ago

"I'm staying pure until someone puts a ring on this."

jehovah_bob 3 years, 11 months ago

I thought being married was "The Marriage Penalty".

Success 3 years, 11 months ago

I'm all for supporting healthy committed relationships. I like the idea of finding out how much of a problem this really is in KS and wonder if there are more cost effective ways to support families.

earline james 3 years, 11 months ago

I remember this movie, mostly for the soundtrack by Gladys Knight and the Pipps (Curtis Mayfield, anyone).
For that particular situation, the James Earl Jones character was NOT the father of either of Claudine's children. A larger problem was that none of the baby daddies was paying Child Support. I'm not saying Roop wouldn't marry Claudine, but that would be some kind of LOVE to marry a woman with 6 kids and go from supporting just himself to supporting 8.
Maybe if the Gov could get support from a few deadbeat dads (something already in place) before trying to marry off the single mothers.

tolawdjk 3 years, 11 months ago

What is more troubling is the confused look he has on his face while doing that. Like he's not quite sure its right, or what it exactly means.

ralphralph 3 years, 11 months ago

Like it or not, we undoubtedly have provided substantial incentives for young women to have children out-of-wedlock, where they remain unemployed and dependent on State benefits, and ... like it or not ... that effect is most prevalent in minority communities. Well-intentioned, but without understanding, we have doomed those communities to become the fatherless and hopeless havens of unwed mothers and their futureless children.

... but we just wanted to help.

weeslicket 3 years, 11 months ago

you people are just too dang-nab-anably funny. perhaps our governor is describing the manner in which he eats warm, oatmeal and raisin, chocolate chip cookies. just too damn funny.

but i am here to ask a different question (side thread awaits) did anyone else notice that the ljworld did not post yesterday's lead story online? kobach's voter fraud plans were the topic. can someone please identify this link, as my googlefoo seems lacking in this endeavor.

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