Last week, Michigan governor Rick Snyder signed into law a bill that ends welfare benefits for 41,000 Michiganders. Until then, there was no limit to how long poor people in Michigan could receive benefits. The law ends payments after four years. Nearly 30,000 children are affected by this axe which will save the state $77.4 million annually, according to the Senate Fiscal Agency.
According to Rep. Ken Horn, who sponsored the bill, this will end the stampede of poor people flooding into Michigan to collect endless benefits.
Except that the idea that this is happening is a myth.
To hear state Rep. Ken Horn tell it, the four-year limit on cash assistance that Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law this week is just what’s needed to stop the stampede of unemployed people pouring into Michigan from other states with less-generous welfare benefits.
“In this state, we are losing hardworking families and taxpayers and gaining people who were moving here for our entitlement programs,” the third-term Frankenmuth Republican told the New York Times for a front-page story on how Michigan and other states are slashing help for poor people.
Karen Holcomb-Merrill, policy director for the Michigan League for Human Services, says Michigan has actually witnessed one of the nation’s larger decreases in cash-assistance cases over the past few years.
Between October 2007 and October 2010, Holcomb-Merrill said, Michigan saw a 3.7% decrease in its caseload — the 11th-highest reduction in the nation and the second highest in the Midwest. Only Minnesota had a larger caseload reduction (-12.1%). Iowa (7.2%), Illinois (20.2%), Ohio (30.2%) and Wisconsin (37.8%) all had caseload increases between 2007 and 2010.
“There are not people moving here to get benefits,” said Gilda Jacobs, the former Democratic state senator who now serves as president of the League of Human Services. “That’s a myth.”
When Brian Dickerson of the Detroit Free Press confronted Horn about this, he claimed it was based on “anecdotal evidence…that people are coming to Michigan for benefits”.
In other words, to save $77.4 million, Michigan Republicans and our governor are willing to throw close to 30,000 kids into far more dire straits than they are already in and it’s based on a myth, on anecdotal evidence completely unsupported by the facts.
Well-played, you heartless bastards. Well-played.