Home | About | Donate

With New Law, Life Just Got 'A Lot Harder' for Poor in Kansas


With New Law, Life Just Got 'A Lot Harder' for Poor in Kansas

Nadia Prupis, staff writer

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback on Thursday signed a controversial welfare bill into law that places strict limits on welfare benefits, how long recipients may get them, and how they are—and are not—allowed to spend them.

Brownback, a Republican, said during the signing that placing limits on the benefits, known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), would encourage recipients to become more self-reliant, but critics of the law maintain that it is punitive and degrading.


“…would encourage recipients to become more self-reliant.” As if all were employable, physically able to work, and could afford daycare for their children while they are at work at three minimum wage jobs just to make ends meet. WTF do he and his heiress wife know about the day-to-day struggles of the poorest citizens living in Kansas and, what is worse, their actions show that they do not care.

Brownback is a repug wing nut. Cut taxes to corps and the wealthiest citizens in KS and to make up the revenue lost as a result, cut benefits to the neediest citizens. Typical Repugnicant approach to dismantling government systems, penalizing the poor, and otherwise victimizing non-whites in the process. Society suffers, businesses suffer because no one can afford their products, crime (violent and non violent) rises and neighborhoods disintegrate. When people are starving, homeless, and desperate to provide for themselves and their children they will do what needs to be done to survive…by any means necessary.

Beat that dead horse, Brownback and then expect a ride back to your manse.



The logic of capitalism moves out of the shadows as it hurries to its inevitable goals of dismantling any and all humane policies in favor of more for the elite. Perhaps it’s the $1 charge and a $25 daily limit that makes it most clear as how many days, losing a dollar, in a month will some one have to come and withdraw the money in order to pay the rent?


Probably the reason people didn’t want to show up in a Maine punishment program is because being poor is not a crime, Sherlock. I’m not surprised that the Bush Crime Family state used to incarcerate people under the gaze of an armed cop just for accepting welfare. Thank god that type of thinking was overturned.

Most people value their freedom more than money. And that’s what this article is about: Freedom. You give someone money, let them decide what to do with it. It’s none of your business. If you so resent a social safety net, then let’s just imprison every CEO who has off-shored jobs out of America. They are the real destroyers of both personal and financial freedom.

Hey, there’s a boat leaving for North Korea tonight. You might wanna jump on it, since North Korea just lets the jobless starve. I think you’d be a lot happier over there…


The name calling conveniently ignores the fact it was Wild Bill Clinton who signed the TANF block grant program into law, (The End of Welfare As We Know It), and the bipartisan effort that has resulted in 40 States currently using 30% or less of their TANF funds for basic assistance.

From the latest CBPP report on How States Use Federal and State Funds Under the TANF Block Grant:

Currently, states spend only slightly more than one-quarter of their combined federal TANF funds and the state funds they must spend to meet TANF’s “maintenance of effort” (MOE) requirement on basic assistance to meet the essential needs of families with children, and just another quarter on child care for low-income families and on activities to connect TANF families to work. They spend the rest in other areas, including programs not aimed at improving employment opportunities for poor families (see Figure 1). TANF does not require states to report on whom they serve with the federal or state funds they shift from cash assistance to other uses, let alone what outcomes they achieved. Thus, there is no evidence that giving states this broad flexibility has improved outcomes for poor families with children.

The extent to which states have used TANF or MOE funds for areas beyond the core welfare reform areas raises serious concern. TANF’s combination of broadly defined purposes and limited accountability for much of its spending has enabled states to divert funds from supporting the poorest families and use them instead to help fill state budget holes. In addition, the federal TANF block grant has no adjustment for inflation and thus has eroded badly over time, losing one-third of its value since 1997. These two factors — the funds’ diminished value and broadened dispersal — have left states with fewer resources to serve needy families, especially at times of increased need, as the Great Recession and its aftermath showed.

Kansas is not alone in exploiting legislative and administrative tactics to lower average monthly TANF caseloads, while disregarding increased need, in order to divert funds to shore up budget shortfalls. In the case of Kansas, Brownback is attempting to generate revenue that might aid in abating a projected $600 million dollar budget deficit due to tax cuts he insisted upon: Cuts to corporate income tax…cuts to oil and gas severance taxes…cuts to sales taxes. Revenue from regular income taxes actually increased last year, but is not enough to pick up the slack. (Source) So who’s gotta pick up the tab? Austerity politics…neoliberal politics…demands that burden be placed on those least able to bear it. It’s a bipartisan effort. One uses lube, the other doesn’t. We all still end up getting screwed.


Matt Taibbi’s book “The DIvide” explores the degrading and humiliating rules that are applied to the poor for relatively petty transgressions and contrasts them with the “pass” given to the banks and other perpetrators whose transgressions have harmed far more people. He actually talks about California aid recipients having their lingerie drawers searched and when lingerie is discovered it is seen as proof that the woman has a man in her life, someone who should be contributing to her welfare.

But the mastery of the book is the way that Taibbi writes so skillfully about the pass we give to white collar criminals.

And Brownback is quite a panderer to the rich and influential, a Koch-addict from way back.

Sometimes it hurts to be a Kansan.


this despicable human being, Brownback, said zero when banksters were GIVEN billions of tax dollars , then, immediately doled out millions to the same crooked banksters as bonuses. The hypocrisy of this law. Shaming is too mild a rebuke. Does Kansas have a recall initiative ? Are their any Kansans with compassion? Boot this man out.


The usually supine ks democratic party actually ran a very decent candidate against Brownback and he was re-elected last November. The painfulness of watching this man “govern” (as a Kansan) is indescribable. And I really believe that if we had an election tomorrow, he’d win again. He has masterfully stacked the KS House and Senate with subservient legislators who are nurtured on ALEC pablum. We ARE the laboratory for right wing policy. It s**** to be a lab rat in his experiment.


what happened was that , unlike the depression era, a civilized society realized people should be cared for. Jobs have been off-shored as capitalism seeks profit at any expense. Environment,workers be damned, only profit matters.


Referring to the fact that the effects of poverty are disproportionately represented in non-white populations in America isn’t racist.

Calling it racist? Is.

The new law in Kansas has nothing to do with personal responsibility or accountability. It has everything to do with continuing the dehumanization of people who take home 32%, or less, than the official federal poverty level, (one eligibility cap for TANF assistance in Kansas…less than 1% of Kansans actually receive TANF basic assistance), in order to rationalize increasing the wealth of persons who don’t need any help.


Repug leadership a collection of a-holes. 'Bout sums it up.


“Racist references and hateful screed” interesting that you perceived my comment in that vein. Your reply tells me that you think the majority of people needing public assistance are cheats, lazy, and are working the system. Your “Kansas is telling them no more liquor, no more smokes, no more anything other then basic necessities which it seems to me, is the way it should be if I’m forced to provide you with these necessities” leads me to believe that you have never had to endure the humiliation of seeking and using public assistance or you would know that NO ONE can buy smokes or liquor or even ORGANIC food using food stamps or other vouchers.

Your judgment of those in need smacks of age-old, hackneyed Republican rhetoric about them. Speaking of hateful…“stay on the goodie train” is derogatory and disparaging.

I suggest you read the book by Barbara Ehrenreich (non-fiction), “Nickle and Dimed” and perhaps you get a clearer picture of what it is like for so many to subsist on low wages. Or, even better, volunteer at the Salvation Army or any number of community “soup kitchens” to gain a broader perspective.


So how about some high dudgeon for the corporations and banksters who also have others support them with tax dollars? You don’t seem to be requiring Jamie Dimon to account for his purchases made with taxpayers’ money in the same way. Just think if we applied this language in Section 9 (12) of the bill to the banks, “…Adults in the household who were determined to have committed fraud or were convicted of the crime of theft pursuant to K.S.A.39-720 and K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 21-5801, and amendments thereto, shall render themselves and all adult household members ineligible for their lifetime…”
There’s also a restriction on interstate commerce and travel in Sec. 9 (14) “…No TANF cash assistance shall be used for purchases at points of sale outside the state of Kansas.”
One standard for the wealthy, getting billions in handouts, and quite another if it’s meager and going to the poor. Good to know where you stand.


This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.