JEFFERSON CITY — The impact of Republican-backed welfare benefit cuts can't be analyzed because an annual report on the changes has not been produced as required, a Democratic lawmaker has said.
Sen. Jake Hummel, of St. Louis, said it was "unacceptable" that the state Department of Social Services hadn't produced a report as of Wednesday, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch .
The cuts were passed two years ago when Republican lawmakers overrode former Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon's veto. The legislation shrank Missouri's lifetime limit on cash payments under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program to 45 months from 60 months. It also increased requirements for low-income parents to get job training, do volunteer work or complete high school and vocational education. Recipients who fail to meet the requirements initially lose 50 percent of their assistance, and if the problem isn't fixed, the entire benefit.
An initial department report on the program showed that as of May 2016, a total of 4,134 families failed to meet the work requirement and were cut off from cash benefits averaging about $224 a month. A separate report showed that spending on the TANF program has dropped to $59.5 million in 2016 from $80.9 million in 2015.
While that report shows that 23 percent fewer families and children are receiving welfare benefits, Hummel said the document was not the annual report required by the new law. The department, which is now controlled by Gov. Eric Greitens, a Republican, has not provided a report of the fiscal year that ended June 30.
In an email to Hummel, Patrick Luebbering, director of the family support division at the Missouri Department of Social Services, suggested that the report may have been forgotten in the transition from Nixon to Greitens in January 2017.
"Some of the individuals involved with the reporting are no longer with DSS, so we are searching to see if another report was sent," Luebbering wrote.
The Post-Dispatch could not reach a department spokeswoman for comment.