Maher Bill Creating Task Force on Fiscal Cliffs in Public Assistance Passes with a Team Effort

Assemblyman Brian Maher (R,C-Walden) is thrilled to see his bill, which is also sponsored by Assemblymembers Maritza Davila (D), Al Taylor (D) and Matt Simpson (R,C-Horicon), passed June 1, 2023, in the Assembly. The bill creates a task force to study the many fiscal cliffs faced by those receiving public assistance.

The goal of the task force is to identify barriers that discourage job-seeking, career improvement and other efforts to improve a household’s economic well-being. Various program eligibilities are impacted by income levels leaving some recipients discouraged from accepting better employment or raises, getting married or taking other positive actions if it means they will no longer receive help from state programs, leaving these families worse off. The point of the task force is to identify these cliffs and make proposals to eliminate them.

“The point of public assistance is to help individuals and families during tough times, but we see that many of the policies embedded in the programs are discouraging career and financial growth, defeating the purpose of the help in the first place. All of us want to see public assistance act as a hand up, but as it is now, the fiscal cliffs are a hand holding people back from a better future,” said Maher, ranking Minority member of the Committee on Social Services. “It’s easy to focus on those who game the system, it’s much harder to dig deeper and do our best to help those who are genuinely seeking to overcome their current circumstances. I am so pleased by the bipartisan support this bill has received in the Assembly, and I am proud to play a part in the conversation with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle and both legislative chambers to see this accomplished.”

Fiscal cliffs are the incremental increases to income that end up disqualifying a recipient of public assistance by pushing them over income thresholds. For example, a three-person family loses their eligibility for Medicaid when they earn $30,630, loses their eligibility for SNAP benefits when their earned income exceeds $34,548, loses eligibility for Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) benefits once they earn $55,296, and loses eligibility for childcare when they earn $64,090.