State Democrats hold hearing to discuss TANF funds

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) — Mississippi House Democrats say they want to get to the root of the problem over the misuse of TANF funds.

“We stand in the poorest state in the country to face the greatest attack on the poorest people in the country,” said Senator Derrick Simmons.

Thousands of Mississippians live below the poverty line. Mississippi Democrats want to figure out how to help more families using the Temporary Needy Family Assistance program, better known as TANF. It is a program that many believe has been abused in the past.

“The federal TANF rules give states a lot of flexibility and very little oversight, and Mississippi takes advantage of that,” said Carol Burnett of the Mississippi Low-Income Child Care Initiative. “TANF spends more on administration than cash assistance to families.”

Brandy Nichols relied on the support of TANF and says there is a lot of paperwork just to receive a small amount each month.

“If the program really cares about us being job ready, we will be trained and supported and transitioned into meaningful work that pays enough for us to use for our families,” Nichols said.

Presenter says there’s a better way for Mississippi to audit use of TANF funds, suggests process that provides more consistent oversight to avoid leaving millions of dollars unused while thousands are on the roster waiting for help.

Representative House Minority Leader Robert Johnson said he and other Democratic leaders would push for such reforms in the next legislative session.

“It’s designed to get people back on their feet, or just get them back on their feet, so they can find jobs and get to work,” Rep. Johnson said. “The idea that a so-called conservative wants to put people to work would ignore the idea that this is about the foundation and people have to get there and refused to fund it, to make it difficult for people to receive these funds. It’s just a dishonest and hypocritical claim on their part, and they’re not doing the job they need to be doing.

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