The U.S. social safety net is a patchwork of federal, state, and local programs providing economic support to those in need. States have discretion in the structure of cash welfare assistance, which in turn affects eligibility for federal food assistance. Refundable tax credits at the state and local levels add another layer of complexity. What do state choices look like, and what implications do they have? What do challenges and successes look like on the ground?
On Tuesday, November 28, the Brookings Center for Economic Security and Opportunity (CESO) hosted an event to discuss these questions. CESO Director Tara Watson opened with an overview of a new interactive from the Center that compares state cash and food safety net programs across the 50 states and D.C. from 2001-2022. This calculator reveals wide variation across states in how much assistance is provided and how the assistance programs are structured. Watson then moderated a panel including Lucie Schmidt, Smith College professor; Bradley Hardy, Georgetown University professor; and Kentucky’s Secretary for Health and Family Services Eric Friedlander.
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