Mississippi’s welfare recipients will get a bump in benefits beginning July 1.
Republican Gov. Tate Reeves signed SB 2759 into law on Wednesday, increasing the monthly benefit for welfare, also known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
According to Republican Sen. Rita Potts Parks of Corinth, the program is getting its first increase since 1999. Currently, a family of three on welfare in the state receives $170 per month. Beginning with the new fiscal year, the same family will begin receiving $260 per month.
“TANF is a block grant given to the state by the federal government, so these are not state dollars,” Parks told the Daily Corinthian. “It is part of the statute that we must vote each year to increase the benefit or leave the amount as is. This year we were able to increase it for the first time in 22 years.”
Mississippi has one of the lowest welfare benefits in the country according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“This $90 increase gets Mississippi off the bottom and is desperately needed by struggling families throughout the state,” said Brandon Jones, policy director for the SPLC in Mississippi. “This increase will help Mississippians afford basic necessities like healthier meals, rent, and gas for their car.”
In other legislative news, the governor also signed HB 633 into law on Wednesday.
The new law states all K-12 schools in Mississippi must offer and require students to take a computer science course by the 2024-25 school year.
Mississippi-based C Spire asked legislators to make computer science classes available in all elementary schools, middle schools and high schools by 2024-25. A C Spire news release said 48 percent of Mississippi high schools currently teach computer science.
The release said that Mississippi employers have unfilled jobs because of a shortage of trained, qualified information technology and computing workers.
C Spire Foundation, a charity connected to the company, announced in January that it was committing $1 million to help Mississippi school districts start computer science classes.
C Spire has been promoting computer science education in Mississippi since 2015 with coding challenges, coding academies and accelerated degree programs.