SPRINGFIELD - A bill sitting on Governor Pat Quinn's desk would remove assets from consideration when a family is applying for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Currently, having $3000 in a savings account or an asset such as a car would disqualify families bringing in 50 percent or less of the federal poverty level from welfare benefits.
That current requirement will change, and families would have no limit on the assets available to them if the Governor signs HB 2262 as he says he plans to do. In 2012, 21,000 Illinois families received a monthly $432 in monthly financial assistance. With lifting the asset testing, more Illinois families are expected to apply.
The bill's sponsor says poverty-stricken families are prevented from setting aside savings when they know they have to spend down before applying for government assistance. She also says that dropping the assets assessment will save taxpayer dollars, since only eight families were disqualified for exceeding the $3000 threshold.
On the other hand, would it be possible for a person with a sizable sum in the bank, living off the account's interest accumulated annually - and still be at 50 percent of the poverty level - to now qualify for over $5000 in TANF from hardworking fellow taxpayers, struggling to meet their own families' needs?
If Quinn signs the bill as he says he will, Illinois will become the 8th state to drop assets testing for TANF funds. Is this fair and is a vote in support of this a conservative one? Several Republicans in the House - Cross, Demmer, Hammond, Hatcher, Osmond, Pritchard, Reboletti and Tracy - supported the bill while 18 Democrats in possible swing districts rejected it:
And in the Senate all 19 Republicans voted no, along with two Democrats - Cunningham and Haine: