Sunday, September 27, 2020
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Sunday, December 1, 2019
TANF: $281M Federal Money We Haven’t Spent
By Tom Yamachika @ 4:00 AM :: 1343 Views :: Hawaii State Government

TANF: $281M Federal Money We Haven’t Spent

by Tom Yamachika, President, Tax Foundation Hawaii

This week we focus on our safety net systems for people or families in need. In the early 1990s, a major part of this net came from the federal Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program, which matched state dollars of financial assistance for a needy family. That program was replaced with what we have now, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which is a federal block grant program that, at least in theory, gives states a substantial amount of federal money for purposes like cash assistance, work activities, work supportive services, and child care.

Hawaii gets about $99 million a year under this program. In 2017, it spent $52 million in federal funds while it spent about three times that amount from its own funds.

That means there was $47 million in federal money left over just from that year. A state can (at least for now) carry the money over to future years, but…as of last year, Hawaii had $281 million in unspent TANF money. That means our state was underutilizing this money on a consistent, year-to-year basis.

A post on the website efficient.gov quotes an assistant division administrator for the Department of Human Services as saying, “I’m concerned the reserve is larger than it needs to be. I do worry that if we don’t spend it, then our clients aren’t benefiting from it. We definitely need to make changes to get that money out the door.”

The federal program also has what is known as a maintenance of effort (MOE) requirement. It says that states must maintain a certain level of state TANF spending which is based on a state’s spending for AFDC and similar programs before TANF was enacted. In other words, we needed to and did spend our taxpayer dollars on this program while we left the federal money on the table.

Worse, a good chunk of the federal dollars we did spend were spent in a questionable place—at least in relation to the purpose of the TANF program. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities stated that nearly $32 million of TANF money was spent on the University of Hawaii. Perhaps the justification was that the dollars went to financial aid for needy students. But CBPP pointed out that this “funding served families with incomes up to 300 percent of the federal poverty line and was not focused on helping TANF cash assistance recipients prepare for work. In comparison, the TANF benefit level for a single-parent family of three in Hawaii represents 31 percent of the federal poverty line.”

Not only that. Another central principle behind the TANF program was that states could spend more of the funds on child care subsidies — which are essential to enabling low-income parents to work — rather than on direct financial assistance. Nationally, states spent about 16% of TANF money on child care. Hawaii spent just 5%.

So here we have a double-edged problem. We aren’t spending the federal money we can get, thereby increasing the burden on local taxpayers. We are spending the money on programs targeted not just to the poor, and we are as a result shortchanging the effort to get people off the dole and into the workforce. To put it another way, the money intended to help the poor is being skimmed off to do something else.

Lawmakers, wake up and smell the plumerias! Let’s get some of this federal money pulled down. Let’s get our state money directed to where it is supposed to do the most good. Maybe we can even use it to combat our homeless crisis!

Links

TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote

2aHawaii

808 Silent Majority

ACA Signups Hawaii

ALEC

Alliance Defending Freedom

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

American Council of Trustees and Alumni

AntiPlanner

Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Astronomy Hawaii

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Better Hawaii

Blaisdell Memorial Project

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

ChinaTownWatch.com

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

Coffee Break

DeedySupport.com

DVids Hawaii

E Hana Kakou Kelii Akina

FIRE

Fix Oahu!

Follow the Money Hawaii

Frank in Hawaii

Front Page Magazine

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Habele.org

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Credit Union Watch

Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Advocates

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii Future Project

Hawaii Gathering of Eagles

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii March for Life

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together

Heritage Foundation

HIEC.Coop

HiFiCo

Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

I Vote Hawaii

If Hawaii News

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

Iowa Meets Maui

Jackson v Abercrombie

Jihad Watch

July 4 in Hawaii

Kahle v New Hope

Kakaako Cares

Kau TEA Party

Kauai Co GOP

Keep Hawaii's Heroes

KeyWiki

Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Malulani Foundation

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

Mauna Kea Recreational Users Group

MentalIllnessPolicy.org

Middle East Forum--The Legal Project

Mililani Conservatives for Change

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

Muslim Brotherhood in America

NAMI Hawaii

NARTH

Natatorium.org

National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

National Wind Watch

New Hawaiian

New Zeal

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Northwest Economic Policy Seminar

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

Now What I Really Think

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport

ObamaCare Abortion Hawaii

Obookiah

OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

OurFutureHawaii.com

Pacific Aviation Museum

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii

P.U.E.O.

RailRipoff.com

Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

Republican Party -- Hawaii State

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

Save Dillingham Airfield

School Choice in Hawaii

SenatorFong.com

Sink the Jones Act

Statehood for Guam

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

UCC Truths

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

VAREP Honolulu

Waagey.org

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii

Yes2TMT