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House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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House of Representatives
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session


Posted: June 3, 2014 09:08 AM
From: Representative Madeleine Dean
To: All House members
Subject: Co-sponsorship of Legislation – Increase in Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) Grants
In the near future, I will be introducing legislation to amend the Public Welfare Code of 1967 to increase the maximum Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) grant amount to 50% of the poverty guidelines published annually in the Federal Registry. This bill is part of the Pennsylvania Agenda for Women’s Health, a comprehensive proposal to address the real health issues affecting women in the Commonwealth today.

Every day we hear about another family slipping through the cracks – trying to get ahead, yet falling farther and farther behind. TANF benefits are designed to provide temporary financial assistance to families who need help in order to get them on the road to self-sufficiency and pay for necessities such as food, shelter, and utilities. Unfortunately, grants to families under the TANF program have not been increased in more than 24 years. At the same time, the buying power of these grants has been reduced dramatically. For example, a monthly grant of $403 for a family with two children is now worth only $225 in 1990 dollars. In 1990, monthly grants equaled approximately 46% of the federal poverty level (FPL). Presently, they are only 22% to 26% of the FPL.

The number of families currently receiving TANF benefits is close to an all-time low. In fact, since 1997, the Commonwealth has reduced its TANF caseload by nearly 60%. It is important that our state translate some of these savings into a modest increase in benefits to our neediest families. My legislation will increase the maximum TANF grant amount to 50% of the FPL, and allows annual adjustments to be made based on revisions to this important index. At a time when poverty in Pennsylvania remains stubbornly high, it is crucial we extend a hand to our most vulnerable children and families.

This legislation will not only provide a greater means for families to make ends meet, it will also allow these same families to concentrate on finding employment or obtaining important job-related skills. I hope you will join me by signing on as a co-sponsor.

Introduced as HB2305