A change to Missouri’s welfare assistance programs becomes law on Monday.

Sen. Mary Elizabeth Coleman, R-Arnold, sponsored the change that will move to a one-page form to apply and renew for these government benefits. She said another part in the bill will gradually reduce these benefits as a participant’s salary increases.

“The war on poverty has been going on for almost 60 years,” Coleman said. “Lyndon B. Johnson first brought this war on poverty out in 1964 in his State of the Union address. Since that time, we have created a system in place that often encourages dependency rather than independence. I think it’s coming from a place that has been well meaning but has just failed.”

Coleman calls it “a massive leap forward in reforming the welfare system” because residents are given a pathway out of poverty rather than being incentivized to stay in it.

“If you make $1 more and you’re already on the program, you don’t lose all of your benefits,” she said.

Coleman, who worked on the change, gives an example of why this change was needed.

“A single mom with two kids in the city of St. Louis is if she earns $27,001 instead of $27,000, she’ll lose about $9,300 in childcare benefits,” said Coleman. “There’s no way she’s going to risk doing that because, by taking a job that has a $1 raise or, as we’ve seen with the increased minimum wage, we see people turning down extra hours.”

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