Tennessee lawmakers abandon cuts to welfare limit

House lawmakers have killed legislation that would have cut the lifetime limit for welfare by a year.

The House Finance Subcommittee agreed on a voice vote Monday night to drop House Bill 2061, which would have reduced the maximum amount of time Tennesseans can receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families from five years to four years. The move came shortly after companion legislation passed the state Senate on a 21-9 vote.

The Department of Human Services, which administers the aid in the state, helped develop the legislation. Officials noted that few families remain on welfare even for four years and that the bill would have freed money for other uses, such as child care and job training.

But they also told lawmakers that the bill would not have saved Tennessee any money because most of the funding for the assistance comes from the federal government, which requires any savings to be put back into the program.

State Rep. Gary Odom, R-Nashville, argued that the bill might actually increase state expenditures, by adding to the workloads on other agencies such as the Department of Children's Services.

The average family in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program in Tennessee receives $185 a month.


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