NEWS RELEASE:

April 14, 2016

For Interviews Call Forest Thigpen or Dr. Jameson Taylor: (601) 969-1300

New poll shows Mississippi voters want work requirements, asset limits, and other welfare fraud reforms

JACKSON, MS – A new poll of registered Mississippi voters shows substantial support for welfare fraud prevention measures included in a bill moving through the state legislature. The poll was conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research.

According to the poll, every category of Mississippi voter identified — by race, age, sex, political party, and region — supports key provisions contained in HB 1116, which is titled, "An Act to Restore Hope, Opportunity and Prosperity for Everyone." Mississippi voters support the following reforms:

  1. 73 percent support reinstating work requirements for able-bodied adults on Food Stamps, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.
  2. 74 percent want to reinstate asset limits for Food Stamp/SNAP recipients.
  3. 80 percent want to prohibit access to welfare funds at ATMs in strip clubs, liquor stores and similar locations.

"In assisting the poor, some approaches help people in the short run but hurt in the long run by creating disincentives to work," said Forest Thigpen, president of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, which commissioned the poll. "While there are no silver bullets, most Mississippians understand that there are commonsense ways to help people in need. We should encourage work-ready adults to obtain the skills and experience they need to live fulfilling, productive lives."

Thigpen said HB 1116 contains provisions that have accomplished the goal of reducing dependency in other states.

In addition to the reforms mentioned in the poll, HB 1116 contains provisions to address fraud and identity theft, including a reform that would save an estimated $40 million per year by removing fraudsters using false identities and/or a false Mississippi address from the state’s Medicaid rolls.

"The proven ideas in HB 1116 get us back to the effective and popular Clinton-era welfare-to-work reforms passed by Congress," Thigpen said, "and moves Mississippi toward a more laser-focused goal of assisting the state’s most vulnerable people while helping able-bodied adults transition from government dependency to meaningful work."

"True charity is personal and accountable," Thigpen said. "It starts in the family and in the church and in the community. It treats the poor as people who have ability and worth, and it encourages the rebuilding of lives through the dignity and self-confidence that work brings. We need to make sure our government programs don’t undermine that type of personal involvement and accountability."

Full question cross-tab matrix and respondent results