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Court clears way for denial of welfare benefits

By Rick Pluta, Michigan Public Radio Network

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wkar/local-wkar-992362.mp3

LANSING, MI –

The Michigan Court of Appeals has cleared the way for the state to cut off cash assistance welfare benefits to 11 thousand families starting Friday. As we hear from Michigan Public Radio's Rick Pluta, the court lifted an injunction issued earlier this week ordering the state to continue paying the benefits.

Officials at the state Department of Human Services say the cases will be closed and payments to the families' Bridge Cards stopped. The lawsuit claimed the department was acting too aggressively to enforce state and federal time limits on families collecting benefits.

Brian Rooney is a deputy director at the Department of Human Services. He says Michigan risks losing federal funds for failing to hit targets to get people on assistance into jobs or job training.

"And this takes a large step towards meeting that goal and that is enforcing the fact that this is a temporary program for assistance to help families get to self-sufficiency," he says.

Advocates for the families losing benefits say there are other ways to reach those goals without the cutoff of payments that will affect 29 thousand children. They say an emergency appeal to the state Supreme Court is an option.

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