Welfare is a safety net for people who really need it, not those who would bilk the system to avoid working.

By Sen. Joe Hune
22nd Senate District

Recently, a federal activist judge handed down a decision that will cost Michigan taxpayers dearly. I am shocked and appalled by this development. Welfare is a safety net for people who really need it, not those who would bilk the system to avoid working.

U.S. District Judge Paul Borman ruled earlier this month that the newly enacted welfare reforms cannot go into effect as planned. According to Borman, the state must send out yet another round of notices to people who will no longer receive assistance.

This delay tactic is one the state and taxpayers cannot afford. It is estimated that these vital reforms will save Michigan taxpayers more than $65 million in the next fiscal year alone. Postponing these new laws from taking effect only delays the inevitable and reduces the savings the state can actualize.

The measures were approved in the Legislature with a bipartisan majority, and Gov. Rick Snyder signed them into law to help get Michigan back on the path to economic prosperity. To accomplish that goal, we must do more with every taxpayer dollar.

Public Acts 131 and 132 of 2011 (House Bills 4409 and 4410) will reduce the welfare caseload by 12,600 cases statewide. Among other changes, the new laws will:

  • Permanently cap lifetime benefits at 48 months;
  • Increase the amount a beneficiary is allowed to earn in a job and still qualify for assistance;
  • Prohibit assistance from being used for lottery tickets, alcohol, tobacco, gambling and illegal activities;
  • Require the state to verify an applicant’s immigration status for non-U.S. citizens; and
  • Exempt cases that are child-only or for adults older than 65.

We need these new laws in effect now. I assure you that the state will send out a second notice as soon as possible so that Michigan can realize the savings it needs to move forward.

Sen. Joe Hune represents the 22nd state Senate District, which includes Livingston and Shiawassee counties, and the southern part of Ingham County. The Ingham County portion includes Bunkerhill, Leslie, Stockbridge and Vevay townships, and the cities of Leslie and Mason.