While Pennsylvania Democrats Want to Increase Welfare Payments, Some Experts Urge Focus on Bigger Picture

Democrats in the Pennsylvania General Assembly hope to increase monthly welfare benefits in Pennsylvania, reasoning that payments under the federally funded Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program have stayed flat since the 1990s, falling well behind inflation. 

Legislation being drafted by state Sen. Katie Muth (D-PA-Royersford) and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-PA-Philadelphia) would increase Pennsylvania’s TANF benefits, which average $403 per month for a family of three in most counties.

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Report: Many Tennessee Economic Indicators Trend up, Others Mixed

Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, Nashville, Tennessee. One of Nashville's renowned honky-tonk bars, Tootsie's has featured over the years many performing artists who have since become famous, such as Willie Nelson, Patsy Cline and Kris Kristofferson.

How is Tennessee’s economy doing? A lot of it is doing well when compared to the COVID-19 lows on many economic indicators such as employment, a new Sycamore Institute report shows.

But other items are troubling, such as there being 40% fewer small businesses in Tennessee as of late June data than there were before the pandemic. That’s considering that 99% of private sector workers in the state work for small businesses, defined as companies of 500 employees or less.

“There are a lot of things going on here,” said Brian Straessle, the Sycamore Institute’s Director of External Affairs. “There isn’t like one nice neat narrative of the economy right now.”

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Tennessee Officials Say TANF-Funded Social Service Program Does Not Support Refugees or Illegal Immigrants

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and members of the state’s Department of Human Services last year granted millions of dollars for social services, and on Monday TDHS officials said they won’t give any to refugees or illegal immigrants. The Nashville-based Catholic Charities of Tennessee last year received $7.3 million in state grant funds to expand social services to 10 Middle Tennessee counties. Part of the organization’s model is based on liberal services performed in Nashville.

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Georgia House Democrats Want to Expand TANF Benefits, Repeal Drug Felony Ban for Recipients

Six Democrats in the Georgia General Assembly filed a bill this week that calls on state officials to expand access to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. According to that bill, HB 741, those Democrats also want to make eligible people convicted of felony drug charges. The bill also would, if enacted into law, increase the lifetime maximum for TANF benefits and stipulate that the government could disregard a person’s assets when determining eligibility.

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Gov Bill Lee Proposes Education Bill Package to Address Learning Loss, Literacy Proficiency

Gov. Bill Lee has unveiled legislation to address learning loss among Tennessee students caused by pandemic-related school closures and extended time away from the classroom.

A series of Lee-backed bills include proposals to provide summer school and after school tutoring, require school districts to use phonics-based literacy curriculum and suspend test-related accountability measures for teachers and schools this year. Lee said he’ll also propose pay raises for teachers, but those details have not been released.

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Lawmakers to Discuss Tennessee $741 Million Welfare Windfall

When state lawmakers return to Nashville next January, one topic for consideration will be what to do with Tennessee’s $741 million surplus funds from a welfare program for the working poor – a larger surplus than any other state in the nation.

The surplus of funds from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) welfare program, also known as Families First, was first reported by the Beacon Center of Tennessee and the Tennessean last year. The program is administered by the Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS).

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