Local Business Asks Legislators for Joint Committee Addressing Benefit Cliffs

Government

At yesterday’s Sarasota County Legislative Delegation meeting at the Sarasota County Commission, Women’s Resource Center CEO Ashley Brown asked state legislators to support the creation of a bipartisan joint committee to address “benefit cliffs” in order to help individuals and families achieve self-sufficiency, reduce workforce disruptions and to decrease state social benefits costs. Social program benefit cliffs occur when a marginal increase in income results in a loss of public benefits.

Brown explained to the legislators that, each month, more than 250 women seek counseling and training from the Women’s Resource Center. She gave examples of women who work hard to receive a college degree or training credential only to realize they can’t afford to receive a pay increase because it results in a loss of benefits with a wage that is not livable. Brown further explained that the current Florida benefit system does not provide for a “glide path” off funded programs as workers earn more money. This causes many people to be economically worse off once they complete a credential and/or enter higher paying jobs.  It also causes high turnover and work disruption for employers as individuals quit or reduce their hours so as not to reach the “cliff.” 

Brown asked the legislators to create the joint committee by bringing together key stakeholders, including state university system personnel, to assess the impact of the current public benefit system and to identify policies which will allow for a gradual path out of poverty. 

Women's Resource Center

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