DeSantis signs bill to ease benefit cliff transition for low-income Floridians

by | Jun 14, 2024

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation to address benefit cliff, helping low-income families transition to financial independence without losing essential public assistance.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation on Thursday to address the issue of benefit cliffs that affect many low-income Floridians.

Benefit cliffs occur when a small increase in income results in a significant loss of public assistance, creating a financial disincentive to earn more. The measure, House Bill 1267, seeks to eliminate this barrier, enabling families to progress economically without fearing sudden financial instability. As written, the measure intends to achieve this goal by revising public assistance programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), SNAP, and the School Readiness program.

A primary component of the bill is the introduction of transitional case management services for families moving off TANF. The service, provided by local workforce development boards, include career planning, job search assistance, resume building, basic financial planning, and benefit management using the Career Ladder Identifier and Financial Forecaster (CLIFF) tool.

The bill also allows adults without a high school diploma to meet TANF work requirements by participating in adult basic education or high school equivalency preparation for at least 20 hours per week. Additionally, the legislation expands mandatory SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) participation to include adults aged 18 to 59 without children under 18 in the household.

Furthermore, the bill establishes the School Readiness Plus Program, providing financial assistance to families who become ineligible for the existing School Readiness program due to increased income.

House Speaker Paul Renner spoke on the issue last month at the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s 2024 Florida Prosperity & Economic Opportunity Solution Summit, where he advocated work to help eliminate fiscal cliffs, including benefit cliffs.

Renner identified these cliffs—sudden losses in public assistance benefits triggered by minor income increases—as a significant impediment to economic mobility. In the realm of childcare, he highlighted how a small raise can result in a loss of childcare benefits for single parents and low-income families. Current policies, he noted, can cause parents to lose their children’s health coverage under the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) if their income surpasses a certain threshold.

“There’s a cliff out there, and oftentimes it’s created by government in an effort to try to help people with public assistance, we create this enormous regressive tax, so it doesn’t make logical sense for people to want to work their way out of poverty,” he said. “You have a situation where a parent gets a great opportunity for a job promotion, but in doing so they’re going to lose their child’s health care … because of the eligibility starts to drop off with that extra dollar.”


%d bloggers like this: