Lawmakers, taxpayers respond to welfare study - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

Lawmakers, taxpayers respond to welfare study

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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

The Cato Institute, a libertarian think-tank based out of Washington, DC, has published a report saying Massachusetts welfare recipients on average make more than $40,000 per year.

The Work vs. Welfare Tradeoff study done by the institute claims that Massachusetts ranks third when it comes to money doled out by the state's welfare system, just behind Washington, DC, and Hawaii.

According to the study:

  • The average welfare recipient gets $42,515 in benefits a year.
  • The pretax wage equivalent of that is $50,540, or $24.30 an hour.

Some taxpayers say that's too much.

"It's kind of taking away the incentive to work, and kind of giving them an incentive to just feed off the government, which is coming from taxpayer dollars," said Sam Goldsmith, of Longmeadow.

"I think a lot of the people who are on welfare have to be, they have no choice. But there are those who are taking too much of the system," said Doris Margolis, of Longmeadow.

Those figures were compared to the median salary in the state, which is $42,723 per year.

Some lawmakers aren't buying the statistics.

"I think there's some real question about the numbers in this report," said Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts.

During a visit to Western Mass Wednesday afternoon, Warren said no changes would be made to the system without a complete breakdown of those numbers.

"Other groups have now looked at it and said that it much overstates the benefits that are available here in Massachusetts," she said.

 Authors of the study say they're not intending to slam the welfare system, saying in their study:

"Many welfare recipients, even those receiving the highest level of benefits, are doing everything they can to find employment and leave the welfare system."

But they say they want to shed light on some of the abuses.

The Department of Transitional Assistance, the state agency that provides SNAP and cash assistance, also responded.

"This study paints an inaccurate picture of the recipients of public benefits in the commonwealth. The average monthly federal snap benefit is $237 per-household in Massachusetts and the average cash benefit is $456, going largely to individuals who are elderly, disabled, children or pregnant mothers in need of assistance," said DTA spokesman Matthew Kitsos.

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