Michigan’s Mis-Timed TANF Cut

August 31, 2011 at 12:22 pm

A report from the Port Huron Times Herald this week noted that, to help reduce the state’s budget shortfall, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to sign legislation to reduce the time that individuals can receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), or welfare, assistance.  The new 48-month limit is expected to cause more than 11,000 people to lose benefits at the October 1 start of the fiscal year.

Meanwhile, Michigan has enacted large tax cuts that will cost more than $1 billion in 2012 alone. Michigan is among 12 other states with budget shortfalls to enact tax cuts, most of them benefitting corporations and high-income individuals. Thus, Michigan is cutting programs for the poor, as a prolonged downturn has significantly hurt struggling families, while giving tax breaks to the wealthy.

Snyder’s expected signature on TANF cuts comes just as my colleague, Donna Pavetti, has explored TANF’s record in providing assistance to needy families all across America a full 15 years after it was created as part of the 1996 welfare reform law.

In a four-part series on our blog, Pavetti noted that while the poverty rate initially declined when the economy was booming and unemployment was extremely low, it started increasing in 2000 and now exceeds its 1996 level. At the same time, the national TANF caseload has declined by 60 percent.

These opposing trends — TANF caseloads going down while poverty is going up — mean that a much smaller share of poor families are receiving the critical assistance that they need as the economy continues to struggle.

In light of these daunting statistics, it is even more unfortunate that states across the country are continuing to make some of the harshest cuts in history to this vital safety net for America’s poorest families.

While budget shortfalls in states must be addressed, budgets should not be balanced on the backs of the most vulnerable.

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More About Liz Schott

Liz Schott

Schott currently is a Senior Fellow with the Center's Welfare Reform and Income Support Division.

Full bio | Blog Archive | Research archive at CBPP.org

5 Comments Add Yours ↓

Comments are listed in reverse chronological order.

  1. DHFabian #

    Things can only worsen as long as the media, progressive and otherwise, continues to ignore this crisis. America does, indeed, devour those who are deemed of no use to the corporate powers.

  2. Prisscilla #

    I am interested in finding our the figure for children who are removed or given away due to poverty rather than neglect or abuse issues. In Cleveland we received only 36 months and we have one of the highest poverty rates and job losses. Mothers are trying to survive on just food stamps and when they can’t they have to find someone to take the kids or social service does and can pay up three times the amount to the new care giver rather than help keep the families together. Who is advocating for these poor single mothers?

  3. 3


    POWER is wanting to know if you have any CPS numbers as to how many children have been put in foster care over the past 5 years or so. Where would we get these numbers? We are seeing a correlation between the taking of kids and the denial of family services with the rising poverty rates. Thanks for your time.

    Cat Sullivan

  4. Hazel Bonner #

    Wow this really looks like more problems dealing with the Michigan Budget that hurts the most vulnerable people and rewards the wealthiest. Looks kind of like what South Dakota is considering this year. Don’t they realize that TANF benefits allow families to purchases goods and services and especially food for the kids. My fear of the welfare reform package was exactly this. When states are in a crunch, the first benefits to go are those to the most needy, like welfare recipients. I will be watching for the exact same action in South Dakota. Looks like it will be there.

  5. Lea #

    In Californiawe have a 48 month time limit of CalWORKs (our version of TANF), but only the adults aid is cut. The childern can get aid until they are 18. When an adult times out, the family is cut about ($125-$200) a month.

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