Noem Introduces Legislation to Help Combat Poverty, Promote Financial Independence

noem press headerNoem Introduces Legislation to Help Combat Poverty, Promote Financial Independence

kristi noem headshot May 21 2014Washington, D.C. – Rep. Kristi Noem introduced H.R.2959, the TANF Accountability and Integrity Improvement Act, which aims to improve the outcomes of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.  This bill was introduced as part of a larger poverty-reduction package that was unveiled today.

“Any program aimed at ending poverty must fundamentally expand opportunity,” said Noem.  “Unfortunately, loopholes within TANF have diluted the program’s integrity and its effectiveness in helping struggling families move up and out of poverty.  By bringing genuine accountability back into the TANF program through H.R.2959, I’m hopeful we can improve outcomes and ensure more families achieve financial independence.”

TANF requires states to ensure 50% of program recipients participate in work-related activities, such as working, searching for a job, or training for one.  If states spend more than the federal government requires, the 50% threshold can be decreased.  In extreme cases, the threshold can be reduced to 0%.

Some states are counting third-party spending as “state spending” and driving their apparent investments to artificially high levels.  As a result, those states don’t need as many TANF recipients to be engaged in work-related activities in order to continue receiving full federal funding.  Under H.R.2959, states could no longer count spending by third parties as state spending, meaning states would need to engage more adults in work-related activities in exchange for federal benefits, as the program was originally intended.

Of note, South Dakota does not count third-party spending as state spending in order to reduce the portion of TANF recipients engaged in work-related activities.

“We need to ensure other states follow South Dakota’s example,” continued Noem.  “By continuing to engage participants in work activities at the level intended, the state has upheld the integrity of the program and ensured the support we provide through TANF is support that really helps struggling families.”