The following Op-Ed is attributed to Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley:
House Majority Leader Dan Hawkins and Attorney General Derek Schmidt are defending reckless Brownback/Colyer policies that have done nothing but rip apart Kansas families. All the while Governor Kelly’s administration is working to keep families together and help Kansans find jobs.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is completely underwritten by federal funding and is available to Kansans when they can’t always rely on a steady full-time job that pays a living wage. It allows parents – especially single mothers – to take care of their children while they seek employment. In fact, a clear majority of families worked before and after receiving benefits.
The so-called HOPE Act, which passed in 2015 without a single Democratic vote, is one of the most mean-spirited laws ever to pass the Kansas Legislature. It made changes to work requirements for pregnant women and new mothers and penalized them for noncompliance, limited access to childcare, significantly reduced the lifetime limits for cash assistance, and eliminated eligibility for survivors of domestic violence.
Restricting these benefits makes it more difficult for families to keep food on the table and to deal with unexpected life events. Sadly, Kansas children are paying the price of this cruel law. Since its passage, many more children are without food assistance and are being abused and neglected. As a result, foster care cases have increased at an alarming rate.
In short, unlike Governor Kelly and her administration, Hawkins and Schmidt have callous disregard for the well-being of Kansans and their families. They’re more consumed with playing political games and carrying on the devastating legacy of Sam Brownback and Jeff Colyer.