Shumlin administration makes case against its own proposal
By Peter Hirschfeld
Vermont Press Bureau | February 07,2013
The most damning argument yet against the Shumlin administration’s plan to cap welfare benefits has come from, well, the Shumlin administration.
In his budget address last month, Gov. Peter Shumlin said “Reach Up” benefits, as they’re called, should be “temporary,” not “timeless.” He said the state should cap lifetime benefits at five years, a move that would save the state an estimated $6 million in fiscal year 2014.
But as is being reported today by VTDigger’s Alicia Freese and Seven Days’ Paul Heintz, the administration took a hard look at an identical proposal in 2012, and pretty much condemned it.
As Freese noted, a January report signed off on by Commissioner of Children and Families Dave Yacavone – the same guy urging lawmakers to adopt the plan now – concluded that capping benefits at 60 months “could leave families destitute and at risk and will create a large hole in the fabric of Vermont’s safety net for those most in need.”
In a passage pulled by Heintz, the report says that “the families who would be affected by this cut have three times as many barriers to gaining self-sufficiency as the general Reach Up caseload population.”
“They are families with limited abilities and resources to recover from such a loss. The elimination of their financial assistance may put their children at risk and force a cost shift to other programs.”