Kimberly Thomas of Columbus, OH worked a physical job for more than a decade, supporting herself and her daughter, paying her taxes and being a productive member of society. When she could no longer perform that job for health reasons, she filed for cash assistance and food benefits through the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services.
She immediately enrolled in school to be a computer technician, thereby meeting the requirements under state and federal guidelines to receive her benefits. After about a week and a half, complications from a hysterectomy landed her in the hospital in a medically induced coma.
When she awoke, she learned that she had been kicked off of state assistance programs for missing her classes. “Basically I was kicked off for not reporting that I was in a coma,” says Kimberly.
The Federal government requires states to show that more than half of their welfare recipients are either working or actively enrolled in school or job training. After the Republicans in Ohio slashed funding for transportation and child-care for poor families trying to better themselves, that became an impossible feat.
Ohio’s answer to the problem wasn’t to find ways to help families meet their work requirements, but through a “reduction in caseload.”
In Columbus’ Franklin County, the caseload has decreased by 40% since 2011. Does that mean 40% fewer people are living in poverty? Of course not. It means failed Republican policies have left 40% of people in need of benefits to fend for themselves.
More poverty, more hunger, more desperation. Great job, Ohio. You’ve shown the rest of the country exactly what living in a red state means.
Watch Kimberly describe her situation in a video from NBC News: