Welfare Restrictions Coming to Mississippi

By: Mike McDaniel
By: Mike McDaniel

Mississippi's temporary assistance for needy families program, or TANF as it's called, pays out an average $1.5 million every year.

"Of course the intention is, especially in TANF, is to assist in raising that child, to help pay rent, to help buy clothes and to make up the additional amount of dollars it would take to feed a household," said State operations director for economic assistance David Noble.

How that money is spent though, is up to the recipient. Noble says in Mississippi, there's no oversight to what TANF money, also called tax dollars, can be spent on.

"It's just like a working individual who has their paycheck and then they go pay their bills or use it for whatever purpose the feel they need it to serve," said Noble.

Across the country restrictions are being put in place to stop welfare recipients from spending benefits on items like lottery tickets, liquor and cigarettes and in places like casinos, bars and businesses for adult entertainment.

"It's not against the law with TANF. They're not using it for the purpose it was intended but there are no restrictions on that," said Noble.

While Mississippi has yet to put those restrictions in place, a federal mandate will require lawmakers to do so by 2014.

"We're hoping the federal government will give the state flexibility so we can do this in the most cost effective manner that we can," said director of human services policy at the National Conference of State Legislatures, Sheri Steisel.

Steisel says the new law is a result of more and more states seeing misuse of welfare money.

"We need to make sure that the benefits that people are entitled to because of their economic circumstances are used in an appropriate fashion," said Steisel.

When restrictions are in effect for Mississippi, a foreseeable problem Noble says is limiting the places for those who honor the intention of the system.

"It's hard to pinpoint one location, for example, an ATM inside a casino. If you restrict that location, you're basically restricting all ATMs for that particular bank," said Noble.

If Mississippi doesn't have those restrictions in place by the 2014 deadline, the state will face cuts in federal money.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Amazed on Jul 12, 2012 at 09:05 AM
    I'm so glad to see other people who think and feel the same way I do about this. And I agree with the "WHAT TOOK SO LONG" comment. Stop the fraud and the state could pay for more important things. ************ VOTE IN NOVEMBER!!!!!!!!!!!***********
  • by Everette Location: Union Ms. on Jul 12, 2012 at 09:05 AM
    When The State of Missssippi Starts Drug Testing As A Requrment For Receiving Welfare You Will Have Less People On Wefare And Therefore Less Money Wasted On Hand Outs.There Is A Lot Of People On Welfare Using The Money To Buy Drugs And Liquor Instead Of Food For Their Children..
  • by Just wondering?? on Jul 11, 2012 at 08:47 PM
    I wonder why it is going to take so long to put these changes into effect? And why has it taken so long for the state to come clean about where the money is being spent?? I work in a school where most of the students get free breakfast and lunch and you wouldn't believe how much food the children throw away. You would think if they were really hungry, they would eat the food, but no, they come to school with candy, chips, etc. that their parents bought with food stamps. I would never deny a child a meal, but c'mon the wagon train has to come to a halt!!
    • reply
      by Me TOO on Jul 13, 2012 at 04:46 AM in reply to Just wondering??
      AMEN! They don't like the FREE meal that they are getting so the supplement it with junk. I see this too.
  • by eric Location: clarkdale on Jul 11, 2012 at 03:14 PM
    people on welfare need to work for the money they get-they need to pick trash up,,do any community service and reimburse the taxpapers for the handouts--forget the drug screens,,just go to the projects and pick them up and make them work!!!!!!!!!!
  • by FED UP Location: Mississippi on Jul 11, 2012 at 03:06 PM
    How about they have to purchase basic food items, not steaks, junk food, candy and stuff like that. I think that there should be a food warehouse specifically for EBT card users. They should be allowed to buy all they want of the basic staple items. If they want ribs, steak, and the luxuries, then they need to pay for them with their own money. If the are getting assistance for their utilities, then they should get only a certain amount, if they go over then maybe they will conserve. IF you can lease a $50000 car then you can afford to take care of yourself. Some of these people know how to run the system with all its shortcomings. You have more than one child, you pay for it yourself. IF you fail a drug test, you are cut off from benefits. IF you cannot stay in school and out of trouble, you are cut off from the benefits. There are ways of controlling the abuse. Most of these people are proud of taking advantage of the system. I teach school and see so many students who are getting assistance for one reason or another. It is time to cut it out!!
    • reply
      by Peabody on Jul 11, 2012 at 05:22 PM in reply to FED UP
      Go back to commotites(spl). Give them food but not steaks. You can live on peanutbutter,cheese,canned meat and crackers just fine,don't like it get a job and buy what you want.
      • reply
        by Not Surprised on Jul 12, 2012 at 07:17 AM in reply to Peabody
        We couldn't do that, it would be demeaning to the pooorrrrr!!!!!!!!!!!
      • reply
        by pat on Jul 12, 2012 at 07:52 PM in reply to Peabody
        I can remember when my grandmother got food stamps, you could not buy anything with them unless u could eat it. Why did it change?
  • by Just try turning them in Location: meridian on Jul 11, 2012 at 01:21 PM
    Have u ever tried to turn someone in for medicare or medicade fraud? Well just try. They have got it so difficult with all the red tape and steps u have to go through that u will give up . After they finish with all the steps u have to follow, they will tell u it may take up to 5 yrs. before and if it is investigated.The Gov. does not want people to be self sufficient, and most who are getting these bennefits know this.
  • by working man on Jul 11, 2012 at 11:37 AM
    Maybe the government should make a economy car with nothing but the bare essential and have it one color that stands out with welfare recipient on the side. Then make all the freeloaders tale back thair expensive vehicles back to were the got them and put them in the welfare car. Then sell the other vehicle at a discount price to a working man so he can experience the good life. And they should be forced to wear welfare recipients shirts when They go grocery shopping. When they go to pay and they don't have their shirt on, no food. They should be embarrassed to be on assistance not enjoying their self. They shouldn't be rewarded for being irresponsible. They should also have their own check out line in grocery store that takes only the foodstamps people. That way the responsible people don't have to wait for them to get their multiple cart checked out.
    • reply
      by Jack on Jul 11, 2012 at 04:25 PM in reply to working man
      you cant see it but im giving you a standing ovation right now.
    • reply
      by Winston on Jul 11, 2012 at 08:15 PM in reply to working man
      ...or maybe they could be emblazoned with a "scarlet W".
  • by working man on Jul 11, 2012 at 10:54 AM
    they need more restrictions. the majority are not responsable or they wouldnt be on welfare. most are useing welfare as a career. they drive $60000 escalades, have two or three carts full for prime food, free medical all on the tax payier. unemployement is $200 , why should these freeloaders have it better then someone who worked all their life and gets laied off? they need a cut off period. or maybe if a woman has a child due to irresponsable sex and cant take care of it except by the tax payer, they should have to have their tubes tied before they get assistance.
  • by FED UP on Jul 11, 2012 at 10:03 AM
    I have a Health Savings Account which is MY OWN MONEY, and I can't even buy eyedrops or cough medicine (and many other items) without a prescription, because the government restricts what I can use it for. If I can't spend MY OWN MONEY on medicines, why can welfare spend MY MONEY on whatever they want? If Obamination can restrict me using MY OWN MONEY for medical purposes (what it is intended for), why can't welfare mooches cards be restricted??? Did you know that they can buy cokes, chips, candy, gum, WHATEVER with food stamps? They can get cash from ATMs and buy drugs, cigarettes, alcohol, $300 tennis shoes, gamble, go to strip clubs, drive a Mercedes, WHATEVER with OUR money.
  • by Anonymous on Jul 11, 2012 at 09:36 AM
    Y'all know what we've got to do in November! Vote that _____ out of office. Get rid of the enablers at the top. Cut the fat. Cut the benefits. Let the working people keep more of what they work for! Make the leeches get out and pick up trash on the interstate or, better yet, do my yard work. I pay them, they should be working for me. I've got plenty of work to do (since I work full-time and don't have time to do it). I'm sick of the handouts!!!
    • reply
      by lucky on Jul 13, 2012 at 06:43 PM in reply to
      to anonymous what the president got to do with it people been getting welfare long before this president got in office
    • reply
      by really!! on Jul 19, 2012 at 09:06 AM in reply to
      I am so confused with your comment. I am trying to understand what a vote in November to vote that ___out of office will do for people getting welfare???? Think about what you are saying. He is in office right now and the bill is about to go into affect. Who do you think is doing this stuff??? Vote his out? Okay, think about when you, as a full time worker, are without and you have to get a handout. Handouts are not the end of the world. It is the people who misuse the handouts that makes them bad. I have never been on welfare in my life but I will never say that I won't be because you can be up today and lower that low on tomorrow. You should really be careful how you throw your words out because being moneyless could be knocking on your door tomorrow.
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