Michigan’s welfare recipients may get up to $900 from the state in car repairs every year, but the House of Representatives is trying to cut that to $500.

The car repair subsidies are part of a $6.4 million program the Department of Human Services has to help welfare recipients get a job and stay employed. Among many approved expenses, the program also includes up to $1,200 for welfare recipients to buy a car, and up to $500 for clothing allowance for job interviews and work.

 “You've got to be kidding me,” said Jim Chiodo, a tea party activist from Holland. “This floors me. … They keep finding more and more. … When are we going to stop? They need money to go to the movies? It’s ridiculous.”

State Rep. Dave Agema, R-Grandville, said the car repair allowance dropping to $500 was the only subsidy that was reduced. Rep. Agema said he didn’t like the program, but cutting any more would have created an outcry from Democrats who think the program is necessary to get people off welfare.

David Akerly, spokesman for the Department of Human Services, referred comment to the legislators.

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State Rep. Shanelle Jackson, D-Detroit, had her amendment to stop the cuts from taking place defeated.

Rep. Jackson said everyone agreed the goal was to get people off state assistance.

“It is very hard to get your car fixed, which is a tool you need to get to work so you can become truly self-sufficient,” Rep. Jackson said.

Belinda Szmytke, a tea party activist from Superior Township, said the state no longer has the money to pay for welfare recipients’ car repairs.

“It’s just one more thing we are throwing money at that we don’t have,” Szmytke said. “I’m frustrated by that.”


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Ted Nelson is a retired Michigan State Police officer who trained police departments throughout the state on civil asset forfeiture. He believes the practice has been misused and needs to change.

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