Tennessee Republican state Sen. Stacey Campfield has introduced a bill that would cut welfare benefits to recipients whose children are doing poorly in school.
The controversial law was introduced last week in an effort to force parents to take a more active role in their children’s lives.
“Parents are responsible to make sure their kids are ready for school and that they get an education,” the senator wrote on his blog. “The state cannot continue to support the generational cycle of poverty.”
Currently, parents of children who receive welfare benefits through the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program can see their benefits cut by 20 percent if their child doesn’t show up for school, Fox News reports.
But Mr Campfield’s proposal will require students to make “satisfactory academic progress.”
If they don’t, recipients could see their checks slashed by 30 percent.
The impact of the bill could be widespread, with 155,281 people on Tennessee’s welfare doles in 2011.
Critics say the bill could have a negative impact on families who are already struggling.
“The maximum benefit for a mother with two children is $185 a month,” Linda O’Neal, executive director of the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, said in an interview. “That’s already low. If you take $60 plus dollars away, you’re just further limiting people who already have extremely few resources… It’s just piling on.”
Senate Leader Jim Kyle of Memphis would oppose the bill, Knox News reports. The Democrat said the new rule would “stack the deck against at-risk children.”
“How does Sen. Campfield expect a child to do his homework when there is no food on the dinner table,” Kyle said.