I have three things to say about this:
The state would funnel millions more federal dollars into promoting healthy marriages among low-income Texans under a proposal pushed by House Appropriations Committee Chairman Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, and others.
Chisum put a provision in the state budget being developed by the panel that would direct up to $4.8 million more annually from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant into a healthy marriages initiative.
Chisum and other backers say the effort addresses problems that cause marriages to break up, which thrusts single parents into poverty.
"If we don't start addressing these problems on the front end, we'll never be able to fund the back end," Chisum said. "That's the biggest issue we have out there, is not having a family unit. ... Hopefully we'll have a whole lot of surplus TANF funds if we get this done (because) we won't have single mothers out there with kids, which is what the TANF money is for."
Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, voiced concern that the initiative drains money from other programs. "People who have these problems could be going to see their minister," she said. "It just doesn't seem like the best use of state funds."
Advocates for the poor noted that women may eschew marriage for economic reasons, since they may lose Medicaid for their children if their household income rises slightly.
Rep. Robert Puente, a San Antonio Democrat and member of the mostly-Republican House leadership, said the state should fill gaps in basic services such as health care for needy citizens before venturing further.
"To designate this amount of money for something as nebulous as healthy marriages I don't think it's money well spent," Puente said. "It's incumbent on us as a state to fund these basic social services for our citizens. If we're successful at that, let's look at Warren Chisum's proposals."
But Rep. Betty Brown, a Terrell Republican on the Appropriations panel, said there are young people whose lives "could be made so much better by a stable, two-parent family relationship."
That's all I got.Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 19, 2007 to That's our Lege