Speaker defends cuts to program for low-income Vermonters - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Speaker defends cuts to program for low-income Vermonters

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Vt. House Speaker Shap Smith is defending cuts to a Welfare-to-Work program as part of a budget proposal.

The Reach Up program gives money to cash-strapped families for basic needs and services. Costs have soared recently and a new proposed budget in the House would limit how long families are eligible for assistance.

Dozens of low-income service advocates signed a letter to Speaker Smith expressing concern over the change.

"The program is really about trying to get people to be self-sufficient and get them back into the workforce and 60 months seems like a right number for trying to make that happen," said Smith, D-Vt. House Speaker.

Smith says if individuals exceed the limit, there's likely a better program for them.

Vermont is the only state that does not currently have a time limit to Reach Up. Thirty-five other states have 60 month standards.

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