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Regional News

Mass Lawmakers Aim To Lift Welfare 'Cap On Kids'

The Massachusetts Statehouse.
File photo
State House News Service
The Massachusetts Statehouse.

Massachusetts lawmakers are considering a bill Tuesday that would lift a restriction on welfare benefits --the so-called "Cap on Kids."

In Massachusetts, a parent with one child on transitional aid receives $478 per month if the family has no income that is counted against the grant.

If there are two children, the grant goes up by $100 a month, but if that second child was conceived when the family was on welfare, there is no increase.

"It's as if that child does not exist," said Deborah Harris, a staff attorney with the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, an anti-poverty group.

Harris said the $100 could pay for diapers for the baby or boots for an older child.

"Without that $100, families who are are already very, very poor, are even more desperately poor," Harris said.

Fifteen states have similar restrictions, according to Harris' group. Two others offer flat grants regardless of the number of children. Seven states have repealed these caps.

Harris said lifting the cap would cost the state $11.7 million per year to cover 9,000 children. This comes as the state faces increasing budget pressures from  disappointing tax revenues.

State Sen. Sal N. DiDomenico of Everett is the lead sponsor of S.34. State Rep. Marjorie Decker of Cambridge sponsored a similar bill in the House.

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