A proposal to raise the poverty line for TANF benefits and extend the benefit window for an additional 18 months after the recipient has moved above the poverty line and is fully employed.

  • Posted on: 26 February 2019
  • By: Ella Fasciano
Legislature: 
Primary Chamber: 
Title: 
An Act Relating to the extension of TANF benefits provided by WorkFirst NJ, as well as amending the guidelines WorkFirst NJ uses to calculate eligibility to more closely align with a cost of living in the state of New Jersey.
Enactment Clause: 
Be it enacted by the Youth Model Legislature of the State of New Jersey that the New Jersey State Plan for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is to be amended so that TANF benefits will be extended for a period of 18 months after the recipient has moved above the newly calculated poverty line. The poverty line will will be amended, using A.L.I.C.E as a reference point, to ensure that is more closely reflects the actual cost of living in New Jersey.
Sections: 
Section I: Definitions: (a) Defines A.L.I.C.E. as an acronym developed by United Way meaning Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. This means a working person who earns near but above the federal poverty line but cannot afford basic necessities of life like housing, childcare, food, and transportation, meaning one unexpected cost can push ALICE below the poverty line.(b) Defines cost of living as the calculated cost of basic living in New Jersey based on annual expenses including food, child care, medical, housing, transportation, other, and annual taxes. (c) Defines WorkFirst NJ as the government funded agency with the goal of helping people get off welfare, secure employment and become self-sufficient, through job training, education and work activities, which provides Temporary Assistance for Needy Families(TANF) as one of their main programs. (d) Defines job training as offered by WorkFirst NJ as focused education on the skills needed to acquire and maintain employment. (e) Defines self-sufficient as being able to adequately provide for his or her self. (f) Defines budget appropriations as the delegation of money, in this case from the New Jersey budget.
Section II: The New Jersey State Plan for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families(TANF) program description section headed Supplemental Work Support Program to be amended to say “Once you are employed and fall above the poverty line, you are eligible to receive WorkFirst NJ benefits for complete cycle of 18 months.
Section III: The sum of money needed for this program will come from the state budget of which the losses will be equally divided among all recipients of budget appropriations.
Section IV: The new line used to determine who is eligible for WorkFirst NJ benefits will be based upon the cost of living in New Jersey. The cost of living is found by compiling annual geographically specific expenditures for food, childcare, housing, transportation, medical care, and taxes. The line will still vary according to the number of dependants and working adults in the household.
Effective Date: 
This bill shall take effect July 1st 2020
Statement of Intent: 
The purpose of this bill is to provide recipients with the ability to establish financial security to limit their future reliance on state benefit programs. This bill aims to help who United Way refers to using the acronym A.L.I.C.E. which stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. I wanted to focus on these people who are working hard but struggling to survive - these are the people who need our help the most and will add immensely to society once they build the base with help that will then allow them, and their family, to flourish in life. Mollie Orshansky, the creator of the poverty line, never wanted it to be a static guideline, so this bill also aims to address this discrepancy and adjust the poverty line to align with the new living standards and economy of America.
Author's Note: 
Funds necessary for the implementation of this bill will be taken from the state budget. Funds needed will be equal to about 0.3% of each yearly budget. Those losses will be equally divided among all recipients of budget appropriations.
Fund Summary: 
Funds necessary for the implementation of this law will be taken from the state budget and will be supervised by the Department of Human Services.
Speedpass Consideration: 
No
Secondary Sponsor: