Lawmaker: Let's Cut Welfare When Kids Get Bad Grades

Tennessee state senator sparks debate with new bill

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 28, 2013 4:25 PM CST

(Newser) – Tough news for Tennessee parents on welfare: Republican state Sen. Stacey Campfield introduced legislation last week that would slash welfare benefits for parents whose kids get crummy grades, Fox News reports. Critics call it an unfair proposal that will ultimately hurt children, but Campfield says the bill will inspire parents to do a better job. "We’re not asking children to re-write the Magna Carta," he said. "A D-minus gets you through."

But Senate Democratic Leader Jim Kyle says a grades-for-welfare plan would "stack the deck against at-risk children," pressuring them to study "when there is no food on the dinner table." The state already cuts benefits by 20% for parents whose kids don't go to school; Campfield's bill would raise that to 30%. Campfield said his proposal would "break the cycle of poverty," but a state youth official tells the Knoxville News Sentinel that a single mom with two kids receives just $185 a month, and "that's already low."

Republican state Sen. Stacey Campfield, left, joins Democratic US Senate nominee Mark Clayton at a press conference in Nashville, Tenn., on Monday, Aug. 13, 2012.
Republican state Sen. Stacey Campfield, left, joins Democratic US Senate nominee Mark Clayton at a press conference in Nashville, Tenn., on Monday, Aug. 13, 2012.   (AP Photo/Erik Schelzig)
In this April 25, 2012, file photo, Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, speaks on the Senate floor in Nashville, Tenn.
In this April 25, 2012, file photo, Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, speaks on the Senate floor in Nashville, Tenn.   (AP Photo/Erik Schelzig, File)
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