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Bill tying welfare benefits to school attendance goes to Gov. Snyder’s desk

School Bus
Nicolae Gerasim

Gov. Rick Snyder will decide whether to sign a bill tying welfare payments to school attendance.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) already cuts off payments to families with kids who miss a lot of school. The state House has sent the governor a bill that would cement that policy in state law.

“This is a great incentive for parents,” said state Rep. Al Pscholka, R-Stevensville, who sponsored House Bill 4041.

“And you have to have parental involvement to have a great education.”

Pscholka says it’s not just about taking away benefits.

“I think this puts in place a process and provisions where we are going to get at some of those barriers – whether it be transportation or whatever else is there – and solve those before we ever get to the point of reducing benefits.”

DHHS has used the policy to revoke cash assistance from more than 200 families in the last two years. It says it works with families to avoid losing payments before that happens, and to get back on the payments once they are ended.

Opponents say the measure unfairly targets the poor.

“This bill says take away benefits from anyone regardless based on the actions of one child. That may be something that parents are trying to control. And that just goes too far for me,” said state Rep. Andy Schor, D-Lansing.

The legislation cleared the state House easily with bipartisan support. And they say it would hurt the brothers and sisters of truant children – who have no control over the situation.