State democrats hold hearing to discuss TANF funds

Published: Oct. 18, 2022 at 8:35 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi House Democrats say they want to get to the root of the issue regarding the misuse of TANF funds.

“We stand in the poorest state in the nation to address the largest attack on the poorest people in the nation,” said Sen. Derrick Simmons.

Thousands of Mississippians live below the poverty line. Mississippi democrats want to figure out how to help more families using the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program, better known as TANF. It’s a program that many believe has been abused in the past.

“Federal TANF rules give states a lot of flexibility and very little oversight, and Mississippi takes advantage of that,” Carol Burnett with the Mississippi Low-Income Child Care Initiative said. “TANF is being spent more on administration than on cash assistance to families.”

Brandy Nichols has relied on TANF support and says there’s a lot of red tape just to receive a small amount each month.

“If the program truly cared about us being job ready, we will be trained and assisted and transitioning to meaningful work that pays enough for us to use on our families,” said Nichols.

One presenter says there’s a better way for Mississippi to audit the use of TANF funds and suggests a process that offers more consistent monitoring to avoid leaving millions of unused dollars while thousands are on the waitlist for help.

House Minority Leader Representative Robert Johnson says he and other Democratic leaders will push for those kinds of reforms in the next legislative session.

“It is designed to get people back on their feet, or just to get them on their feet, so they can find jobs and get to work,” Representative Johnson said. “The idea that a so-called conservative wants to put people to work would ignore the idea that this is the foundation and people need to make that happen and refused the fund it, to make it hard for people to receive those funds. It’s just disingenuous and hypocritical assertion on their part, and not doing the job they need to do.”

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