Bill to Empower Working Pennsylvanians Headed to Governor’s Desk, Say Bloom, Murt
HARRISBURG –The House of Representatives Monday sent legislation to the governor’s desk, which would encourage low-income families who rely on child care subsidies when they are working successfully to earn their way out of poverty, said state Reps. Stephen Bloom (R-Cumberland) and Tom Murt (R-Montgomery/Philadelphia), the bill’s co-authors.

House Bill 1164, which was contained in the state Human Services Code, would reform Pennsylvania’s child care benefits structure to help families retain temporary assistance, while they work to achieve economic self-reliance.

Under current law, families who earn more money eventually reach a so-called “benefits cliff” at which even a slight increase in their income makes them completely ineligible for services worth substantially more than the potential income increase, thereby discouraging them from accepting raises or working additional hours.

“Our current dependency-driven, all-or-nothing system penalizes hard-working parents who are making every effort to improve their financial situation,” Bloom said. “It’s time to the end era of policies that keep people trapped in cycles of dependency.”

The proposed legislation would address this issue by increasing copayments as parents earn additional income. In addition, when parents reach the current benefits cliff, they would not be cut off from services. As they earn more money, their responsibility for the cost of services would increase until their income can support it entirely.

“In our attempt to help families in need, government often crafts laws that have unintended consequences,” Murt said. “While I remain committed to helping Pennsylvanians who are struggling to escape poverty, I am just as committed to changing laws that dissuade parents from finding private-sector employment due to lost government benefits.”

In 2013, the House Majority Policy Committee began its Empowering Opportunities: Gateways Out of Poverty policy initiative, led by then Majority Policy Chair, now Majority Leader, Rep. Dave Reed (R-Indiana). Legislation to end the benefits cliff was co-introduced by Bloom and Murt in response to the committee’s findings.

Representative Stephen Bloom
199th District
Representative Tom Murt
152nd District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Abbey Haslam
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