Michigan law would cap welfare benefits

July 14, 2011 at 10:43 AM

DETROIT, July 14 (UPI) -- Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to sign a bill that would put a lifetime cap on the length of time state recipients can collect welfare, officials said.

The Michigan Senate Wednesday approved a measure to cap the maximum time a person can collect welfare at 48 months, The Detroit News reported Thursday.

Snyder was expected to sign the legislation into law as soon as the bill hits his desk. It would immediately affect about 13,000 families statewide.

The cap would be retroactive and cumulative, so families would lose payments averaging $515 monthly, starting Oct. 1.

"The purpose of the 48-month limit is to ensure that resources are directed toward families that truly need them," said Amber McCann, spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe. "As the economy in Michigan improves with the legislation that has passed over the course of these first six months, we think that 48 months is an adequate amount of time for people to find employment."

Opponents of the bill called it "draconian."

Critics said it would precipitate a humanitarian crisis as tens of thousands of people -- including more than 20,000 children -- lose financial support in the midst of a major recession with high unemployment.

"This bill is draconian, damnable and unconscionable," said Sen. Coleman Young II, a Detroit Democrat. "The fact that we are destroying a social safety net shows we have lost sight of the fundamental purpose of being elected, which is to protect the general welfare.

"We need legislation that promotes job creation, not legislation that takes food away from hungry children," Young said.

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