Markey, House of Representatives Pass "Welfare Reform" Bill
(BOSTON)- On Wednesday, State Representative Christopher Markey of Dartmouth joined his colleagues in the House of Representatives in voting to pass “An Act Relative to Fostering Economic Independence”. The bill, S1806, passed by a 152-0 vote and will provide significant reforms to the Commonwealth’s benefits system as provided by the Department of Transitional Assistance.
Dubbed the “Welfare Reform” bill, the bill provides, as Markey pointed out, solutions to a problem rather than an arbitrary elimination of programs. “No doubt, some people are out to game the system,” Markey said, “but the vast majority are faced with no other alternative. Cutting benefits to families and single mothers struggling to survive is not the answer. It’s about empowering people and giving them an opportunity to lift themselves up. This bill helps put these pieces into place,” he added.
In addition to parts of the bill that bolster program integrity and prevent abuses such as barring the sending of benefits-purchased food overseas and increased penalties for trafficking benefits cards, Markey pointed to educational components that will benefit needy families. “Some of us may take the ability to balance our check books for granted, but some may not have had the lessons of involved parents to help guide them. Financial literacy is extremely important, and the ability to save money and plan for the future gives people confidence and helps to chip away at barriers to success. I’m particularly proud of this part of the bill,” Markey said.
The bill would also establish a Commission to Reduce Poverty which would draw from all sectors of society with the goal of coming up with more concrete solutions. “It’s a great opportunity to get the private sector, those in the neighborhoods who see the effects of poverty every day, and officials in state government to develop actionable items. Dialogue and collaboration are really important and we need to be able to count on our best and brightest, regardless of party affiliation or political philosophy, to get positive results that help more comprehensively break the cycle of poverty,” he added. The bill now moves to the Senate for further consideration.