A House committee approved legislation Wednesday that would reduce
welfare benefits for families whose children are failing school after a
lengthy and passionate debate.
The House Health Committee voted
10-8 in favor of House Bill 261. The measure would cut Temporary
Assistance for Needy Families payments if a child fails a grade and a
parent does not take an action such as attending two parent-teacher
conferences, arranging tutoring, enrolling the child in summer school or
taking a parenting class.
TANF payments would be reduced to the child-only grant, about $140 for a family with one child.
Opponents said the bill will hurt families already struggling to make ends meet.
we sometimes put in law and how the real world reacts are sometimes not
the same thing," said state Rep. Mike Turner, D-Nashville. "The
ultimate result of this is we're going to end up taking heat away from
children, possibly clothing away from children, if not food away from
children. The ultimate effect is going to zero back down to the
Supporters argued it will force parents to take responsibility for their children's grades.
can't stress enough how my heart goes out for a child that is not
getting the support that he needs at home," said state Rep. Barry Doss,
R-Leoma. "But I am more concerned about the child starving for a
lifetime than I am for a few days, because if these children don't get
an education and the parents are not going to be responsible enough,
they're going to be burdened for a lifetime."