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Block Grants Are Bad Idea

April 18, 2017

This blogger has always opposed block grants.  Those types of funds are a grant from a central government that a local authority can allocate to a wide range of services.  Unless there is strict guidance and regulation the monies might not be spent for the needs of the people, but instead used on other parts of government far related from its original purpose.

Take as an example how the state of Mississippi deals with a those on the lower rungs of the economic ladder.  That state is barely approving anyone for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, a federal welfare program for low-income residents.   Last year, 11,717 people applied, and just 167 were approved, according to an analysis by the progressive news site ThinkProgress. That measly approval rate comes to about, 1.4 percent.

While these monies cited above were not from a block grant it does underscore what troubles backward states can make–or what conservative states might do–when it comes to spending block grant money.  While there is a renewed interest in block grants from the current congress it needs to be strongly hobbled at every turn.

The use of block grants has a troubling history.  At the root of their use is that they undercut the programs they are designed to implement and sustain.  What results then is not assistance to people but instead a way for conservatives to allow for funding reductions over time.  Although the grants are typically tied to requirements that states maintain the programs at historic levels, it’s easy for them to divert the money for other purposes, including filling in their general budgetary needs.

Block grants are an awful idea.

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