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This week at CBPP we focused on family income support, state budgets and taxes, the federal budget, food assistance, housing, and health care.

  • On family income support, our blog series on the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant outlined key facts about the program as it approaches its 20th anniversary on August 22.  Liz Schott noted that states spend only about half of their state and federal TANF funds on the core welfare reform areas of basic assistance, work-related activities, and child care.  LaDonna Pavetti pointed out that TANF has provided a safety net to a shrinking number of poor families over time and fails to help most unemployed parents find and maintain work; she then outlined several policy changes to address TANF’s failures.  In a separate report, Pavetti and Schott detailed those TANF improvements, which would support work and help families meet their basic needs.
  • On state budgets and taxes, we updated our report and state-by state fact sheets on state cuts to higher education, which threaten quality and affordability at public colleges. Michael Mitchell highlighted the pronounced cuts to higher education in Illinois, where per-student funding fell 37 percent from 2015 to 2016. 
  • On the federal budget, Richard Kogan, Paul Van de Water, and Chloe Cho observed that the nation’s long-term fiscal outlook is much improved since 2010 but remains challenging and will gradually worsen under current policies.
  • On food assistance, Stacy Dean examined how the 1996 welfare law’s cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, then called food stamps) permanently cut monthly food benefits for almost all participating households. 
  • On housing, Will Fischer encouraged the Department of Housing and Urban Development to move forward with its proposed expansion of a program that helps families with vouchers rent in higher-opportunity neighborhoods.
  • On health care, Jennifer Wagner explained how using electronic data sources to verify Medicaid eligibility can improve access to coverage.  Matt Broaddus continued our Medicaid Works blog series by describing how Medicaid’s flexible rules and reliable funding encourage state innovation. Shelby Gonzales introduced our new guide on using schools to reach children and family members who could be eligible for free or low-cost health coverage.

Chart of the Week: Modest SNAP Benefits Even Smaller Due to 1996 Welfare Law

A variety of news outlets featured CBPP’s work and experts recently.  Here are some highlights:

An Infrastructure Proposal That Goes Beyond Clinton and Trump
New Yorker
August 17, 2016

Amid budget cuts, teachers scrimp for student supplies
CBS News
August 17, 2016

Food Stamp Rolls Drop as States Decline Federally Funded Benefit
August 16, 2016

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