More than 3,000 low-income Missouri families could lose monthly welfare assistance under a measure heading to Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon for consideration, the first such bill approved by lawmakers this year among a number aimed at trimming social services.

More than 3,000 low-income Missouri families could lose monthly welfare assistance under a measure heading to Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon for consideration, the first such bill approved by lawmakers this year among a number aimed at trimming social services.
The Senate bill, SB 24, sponsored by Sen. David Sater, R-Cassville, would cut the lifetime cap from five years to three years and nine months for low-income families receiving a monthly allowance through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.
The House voted 111-36 on Thursday for the proposal, which was the final vote needed to pass the Legislature. Senators had approved the bill on Tuesday, 25-9 along party lines.
Nixon's spokesman Scott Holste declined to comment on what action the governor will take, saying the bill "will undergo a comprehensive and thorough review."
Approval of the Missouri measure came the same day as Kansas' Republican Gov. Sam Brownback signed into law a measure that tells poor families that they can't attend concerts, see a psychic or buy lingerie with a monthly cash allowance through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.
The Missouri proposal is one of a number of reductions to the state's social safety net pushed by the Republican-controlled Legislature. Other measures moving through the General Assembly include reducing money for the Department of Social Services and placing restrictions on how recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and food stamps could spend their monthly allowances.
Missouri GOP members say trimming social services programs and adding accountability measures could spur recipients to become self-sufficient while saving the state money.
House Speaker John Diehl of Town and Country said welfare is meant "to get people back on their feet, not to be a permanent entitlement program."
Democrats have generally opposed those efforts, and have criticized the bill passed by the House on Thursday as harmful to the state's neediest residents and their children.
The legislation also sets up an intervention system if parents don't comply with work requirements, which include job training, work experience, education and volunteering.
Case workers would be required to reach out to coach them on how to meet those guidelines. If parents don't meet requirements after six weeks, their families' benefits would be slashed in half. They would have 10 weeks after that to come into compliance or be kicked off the program.
Democratic Rep. Stacey Newman of St. Louis criticized the $400,000 price tag on the proposal, which would pay for enhanced monitoring to ensure compliance and an additional staffer to implement changes.
"It's going to cost the state money to cut people off who are in extreme poverty situations," Newman said, later adding, "that is just so bizarre. I mean how many other programs have we not fully funded, and we have to go back to find $400,000 to be mean to poor people."
The Department of Social Services estimates roughly 3,155 families currently in the program would lose monthly assistance next January, when the cuts are set to take effect. The estimate is based on January caseloads, department spokeswoman Rebecca Woelfel said.
Rep. Diane Franklin, the Camdenton Republican who ushered the Senate bill through the House, disputed that.
She said it is likely far fewer families will be maxed out at that time, citing the 83 families who reached the five-year limit at the end of last year. Woelfel said 2,294 families reached the limit in fiscal year 2014.