One recipient said the $600 benefit the family gets through Reach Up each month “is just not enough between our rent, child care, the bills you have to survive on, plus the food.”
Lawmakers began taking public testimony on the budget Thursday.
The state cut cash assistance last year for adult recipients with disabilities, but a renewed push to reverse that policy points to savings in the program resulting from lower enrollment.
“What we learned is that the new law is not unconstitutional; it is merely unconscionable,” Legal Aid attorney Chris Curtis said of the decision.
A $125 cut to hundreds of families that receive Reach Up benefits has been postponed until later this fall, and the state expects the program’s budget will need to be adjusted.
State agrees to continue benefits while lawyers prepare arguments in the case. Vermont Legal Aid claims the reduction is unconstitutional and that it discriminates against households with family members with a disability.
Some 860 families will take a $125 cut. Advocates say the new policy is a “tax” on Vermont’s poorest households.
Advocates turned out at a budget hearing today to oppose a $1.65 million budget cut targeting families on Reach Up who have household member with a disability.
Gov. Shumlin says the proposal could save the state more than $1.6 million. But, it would impact more than 1,100 households, according to the Department for Children and Families.
A third report on the Department for Children and Families came to similar conclusions as the other two: DCF needs more front-line staff, better training, and a stronger focus on opiate addiction’s impact on families.
Despite news Thursday that budget cuts will be required to cope with a downgrade in the state’s revenue forecast, officials say the project must move forward.
Lawmakers allow families a little more latitude in accepting a raise at work by easing the “benefits cliff.” They also extended child care subsidies.
“If this things drags on there are very serious ramifications,” Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding says.