Missouri adults could have their welfare benefits slashed if they have K-12 school students who do not attend school at least 90% of school days. State Representative Jeff Porter, R-Montgomery City, has filed what he calls “a parent accountability bill”.

Missouri Capitol (Photo courtesy of Alisa Nelson, Missourinet)

Porter’s bill that would cut some government assistance by 35% to those families the next six months. Benefits would be restored when all children in the custody of the individual attend at least 90% of school days in the preceding six months.

“If we’re going to pay that kind of money for people that need it, and also try to jump them out of the rut of being multi generations and income assistance where a lot of times I see multi generations, we need to make sure they’re in school try to take advantage of the benefits of the role models there to get the education they need to work your way out of that. Plus, on top of that, a lot of times there’s nutritional needs that are being missed,” says Porter. “Nowadays, we have two meals, plus having all those benefits that the schools provide.”

He came up with the plan after talking to three to four superintendents in his focus group.

“I feel like it’s a win-win for everybody. The taxpayers of Missouri would like to make sure the kids are going to school because we are providing the income,” he says. “We need to have some assurances that the kids are in school.”

Porter says the bill currently does not include exceptions for special needs students or others who might be seriously ill.

“I feel like I need to stand up and make sure they have the same entitlements to those programs and encourage the parents to make sure they get their kids there,” says Porter. “People that have disabled kids, they definitely need the supervision of teachers to take care of their problems so they can get themselves on a good track. I feel like we need to treat them the same from the standpoint they still have the same needs, in a lot of cases more needs than the other ones. So, I feel like we shouldn’t shortchange them.”

Porter says the legislation would not take away food stamps.

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education tells Missourinet in the 2020-2021 academic year, about 82% of the state’s K-12 public school students attended at least 90% of the time.

To view House Bill 1493, click here.

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