New Kansas rules would limit spending of welfare benefits

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from The New York Times,

A new Kansas law tells poor families that they can’t use cash assistance from the state to attend concerts, get tattoos, see a psychic or buy lingerie. The list of don’ts runs to several dozen items.

More than 20 other states have such lists. But the one included by the Republican-dominated Kansas Legislature in a bill signed Thursday by GOP Gov. Sam Brownback appears to be the most exhaustive, according to state Department for Children and Families officials.

It’s inspired national criticism and mockery from “The Daily Show.” Host Jon Stewart suggested that in accepting federal funds, Kansas should be forced to give up items like roads “paved with luxurious asphalt.”

Many of the spending restrictions in the law already existed in state policy. Brownback said the list, which is a part of a broader welfare law taking affect July 1, is aimed at moving poor families from social services into jobs.

“I think it is important that every chance we get we encourage people to get back into the marketplace, get back into the job market,” he said.

In a statement after the signing, Senate Minority Leader Democrat Anthony Hensley called the law “a punitive and highly judgmental piece of legislation” that would make it harder for Kansans to escape poverty.

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