Introduced by Representatives Fisher of Lincoln, French of Randolph, Haas of Rochester, Head of S. Burlington, Howrigan of Fairfield, Kiss of Burlington, Kitzmiller of Montpelier, Pugh of S. Burlington, Seibert of Norwich and Sharpe of Bristol
Subject: Reach Up; financial assistance; appropriation
Statement of purpose: This bill proposes to ensure participants in the Reach Up program receive a minimum percentage of the standards for basic needs and housing.
AN ACT RELATING TO REACH UP FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE
It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:
Sec. 1. 33 V.S.A. § 101 is amended to read:
§ 101. SOCIAL WELFARE POLICY OF THE STATE OF VERMONT
It is the policy of the state of Vermont that:
(1) Its social welfare programs shall provide assistance and benefits to persons of the state in proven need thereof and eligible for such assistance and benefits under the provisions of this title;
(2) It is the purpose of its social welfare laws to establish and support programs which contribute to the prevention of dependency and social maladjustment;
(3) Assistance and benefits shall be administered promptly, with due regard for the preservation of family life, and without restriction of individual rights or discrimination on account of race, religion, political affiliation, or place of residence within the state;
(4) Assistance and benefits shall be so administered as to maintain and encourage dignity, self-respect, and self-reliance. It is the legislative intent that assistance granted shall be adequate to maintain a reasonable standard of health and decency based on current cost of living indices. The assistance payment shall be a minimum of the basic needs standard established in subdivision (5) combined with the housing allowance standard established in subdivision (6) of this section ratably reduced no less than 50 percent. The assistance payment may also be reduced as established by rule for other income received by a family member. Notwithstanding this subdivision, the department will amend rules that establish new maximum Reach Up grant amounts only when the general assembly has taken affirmative action to increase or decrease the Reach Up financial assistance appropriation.
(5) The basic needs standard shall include amounts for food, fuel, utilities, clothing, personal needs and incidentals, household maintenance, and any special needs required by the assistance group members. The minimum basic needs standards shall be $475.00 for one individual, $680.00 for two, $891.00 for three, $1,064.00 for four, $1,247.00 for five, $1,372.00 for six, $1,589.00 for seven, $1,769.00 for eight, and an additional $170.00 for each individual above eight. The department shall increase the basic needs standard annually by rule based on current cost of living indices unless determined otherwise by the general assembly.
(6) The minimum housing allowance standard shall be $400.00 outside Chittenden County and $450.00 in Chittenden County for a family or individual with housing expenses. The department shall increase the housing allowance standard annually by rule, based on current cost of living indices unless determined otherwise by the general assembly.
Sec. 2. 33 V.S.A. § 1103(a) is amended to read:
(a) Aid shall be given for the benefit of a dependent child to the relative or caretaker with whom the child is living unless otherwise provided. The amount of aid to which an eligible person is entitled shall be determined with due regard to the income, resources and maintenance available to that person and, as far as funds are available, shall provide that person a reasonable subsistence compatible with decency and health. The commissioner may fix by regulation maximum amounts of aid, and act to insure that the expenditures for the programs shall not exceed appropriations for them consistent with section 101 of this title. In no case may the department expend state funds in excess of the appropriations for the programs under this chapter.
Sec. 3. APPROPRIATION
The sum of $668,804.00 is appropriated from the general fund to the department for children and family services to set the ratable reduction at 50.74 percent in fiscal year 2006 to accomplish the purposes of this act.
The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street