Kansas Decides To Ban Welfare Recipients From Spending Benefits On Cruise Ships!

I just bet the residents of Kansas are delighted that their state legislature is taking care of them by passing bills that address the big issues of the day in the Sunflower State.

Most recently, the diligent elected officials in Kansas decided that a bill which won’t allow welfare recipients to spend their benefits on cruise ships was introduced by Republican Representative Michael O’Donnell. The bill was then passed by the legislature and is on its way to Governor Sam Brownback, who has said he will sign it.

Keep in mind one relevant fact about Kansas: It’s a landlocked state. Not a lot of cruise ships are docking in Topeka.

Representative O’Donnell, whose bill also bans Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients from getting more than $25 a day in benefits on their state-issued debit cards, says there’s a perfectly good reason the legislation was so badly needed:

“We’re trying to make sure those benefits are used the way they were intended. This is about prosperity. This is about having a great life.”

Of course. Because we all know that a family of say, three or four can certainly live on $25 a day as long as they don’t go in search of pina coladas on a Princess Cruise Lines steamer. As for prosperity and having a great life, I defy Mr. O’Donnell and his family to do so on such a paltry sum of money.

But there is a larger motive at play here than just a bill which bans spending TANF benefits at liquor stores, fortune tellers, swimming pools, or cruise ships: You see, under this new law,  a three-person family receiving the maximum benefit would have to go to the ATM more than a dozen times to get the full benefit, which would be decreased  by an 85 cent fee for each withdrawal after the first one. Which begs the question: How hard did the local banks lobby for this boom to their bottom line? I bet they’re high-fiving and listening to the sweet sounds of money going cha-ching.

Liz Schott of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said the new Kansas rules are flawed for a couple of reasons:

“This provision makes it nearly impossible for a recipient who does not have a checking account to pay rent,” Liz Schott of the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said in an email. “Moreover, it actually takes money from the pockets of poor families since they will need to pay 85 cents for each additional withdrawal after the first one in a month, and often more with ATM transaction fees.”

True, but at least no one will be sipping a Mai Tai on the sundeck at taxpayer expense. And that’s got to make Kansas taxpayers sleep so much better at night.

This article was originally published by the same author at LiberalAmerica.org.

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