What looks like a line item on the state budget means alot more for the people who benefit throughout the state.
That is the case for 61,000 people across the state that stand to lose their cash assistance benefit at the end of the month as a result of a budget cut.
Included in House Bill 1261 is language tha will "eliminate the 100% state funded general assistance cash grant program on August 1, 2012," according to a fiscal note attached to the bill prepared by House Appropriations Committee member Kathy Vranicar.
"The program does end on August 1 so the benefit will stop on July 31," according to a Department of Public Welfare spokeswoman, "158 people (in Warren County) will lose the general assisance cash assistance benefit."
The spokeswoman said that 61,000 people statewide will be affected by the cut and will not receive the benefit which averages approximately $180 per month.
According to the DPW website, "The Department of Public Welfare's General Assistance program is entirely state funded and serves certain individuals who do not qualify for the federally funded Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefit, also known as TANF. These individuals must also meet specific criteria for General Assistance, for example, having a medically verified permanent or temporary disability."
The Washington D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities researched cash assistance programs across the state. Their study examined the 30 states that had cash assistance programs. Noting that Kansas and Illinois cut their programs in their 2011-2012 budget, the program is "typially for people who aren't disabled enough for SSI (Social Security Income.)
The report indicates that individuals in most counties receive $205 per month.
Their report concludes that "By and large, the federal government has left it up to states to provide basic assistance to childless adults in need of assistance. While states have never provided significant support for this group, the safety net for these individuals has weakened significantly over the past two decades and continues to erode. This trend is especially troubling because of the persistently high levels of unemployment that make it particularly difficult for this group to find work. As a growing number of jobless and elderly exhaust their unemployment insurance benefits, poor childless adults are becoming even more vulnerable to severe hardship than in the past and are doing so in greater numbers."