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Reforming Asset Limits: Illinois Experience. To Save, or Not to Save? Encouraging the Poor to Save by Reforming Asset Limits in Public Assistance Programs New America Foundation Roundtable. Shriver Center.

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Reforming asset limits illinois experience

Reforming Asset Limits:Illinois Experience

To Save, or Not to Save?

Encouraging the Poor to Save by Reforming

Asset Limits in Public Assistance Programs

New America Foundation Roundtable

(c) 2006 Shriver Center

Shriver center
Shriver Center

  • The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, a nonprofit based in Chicago, champions laws and policies that expand opportunity so that people can leave poverty permanently.

  • The Community Investment Unit engages in model programs and advocacy to help low-income, low-wealth people build, own, and protect personal and financial assets.

(c) 2006 Shriver Center

Asset limit advocacy pathways
Asset Limit Advocacy Pathways

  • Legislation

  • Administrative Rules

  • Agencies

  • Executive Branch

(c) 2006 Shriver Center

Do your homework
Do Your Homework

  • Federal authority

    • e.g., TANF, Farm Bill, AFIA

  • State authority

    • Public aid law

    • Current administrative rules

  • Change process and deadlines

  • Impact/cost analysis

(c) 2006 Shriver Center

Research similar state policies
Research Similar State Policies

  • Exemptions for certain assets

    • Individual Development Accounts

    • Homes

    • Retirement accounts

    • Lump Sum Payments

    • 529 college savings plans

    • SEED children’s savings accounts

  • Asset levels

  • Financial Education/TANF “work activity”

(c) 2006 Shriver Center

Build on existing relationships
Build on Existing Relationships

  • Agencies

    • IDAs and Financial Education

    • TANF, Food Stamps, Medicaid

    • Workforce Development

  • Executive Branch

    • Transition team, policy staff, budget office

  • Legislators

    • Your rep, prior sponsors, caucus leaders

(c) 2006 Shriver Center

Administrative advocacy
Administrative Advocacy

  • Request meetings with Secretary and/or policy staff; explain options

  • Mention asset limits in letters, suggestions on public benefit service delivery issues

  • Submit public comments on proposed rules

  • Generate additional support from advocates

  • Follow up by phone and email

  • Contact administrative rules committee

(c) 2006 Shriver Center

Executive and legislative advocacy
Executive and Legislative Advocacy

  • Help to prepare impact and cost analysis

  • Share examples from other states

  • Share information from agency

  • Suggest messages to support the policy

  • Show how the proposed asset policy is consistent with other state policy goals

  • Provide political cover, generate support from other advocates

(c) 2006 Shriver Center

Communications strategies
Communications Strategies

  • Publish articles

  • Do presentations

  • Participate in meetings, hearings

  • Coordinate with agency

  • Submit public comments

  • Be careful with media coverage!

(c) 2006 Shriver Center

Key arguments
Key Arguments

  • State has authority to reform asset rules

    • Other states have reformed asset rules

  • Asset limits send wrong message, discourage saving

  • Reforming asset limits encourages saving, promotes self-sufficiency, reduces dependence

  • Abolishing asset limits reduces administrative burden

  • Strict work requirements reduce risk of backlash, charges of being “soft” on welfare

(c) 2006 Shriver Center

Lessons learned
Lessons Learned

  • Go for elimination, accept incremental changes in exemptions or limits

  • Keep making the case for elimination, additional exemptions

  • Use contacts to reach decision-makers

  • Be sensitive to deadlines, political landscape

  • Don’t burn any bridges

(c) 2006 Shriver Center


  • CLASP, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

  • New America Foundation, The Urban Institute

  • The Brookings Institution, The Retirement Security Project

  • For more information:

    Dory Rand

    Supervising Attorney, Community Investment

    Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law

    50 East Washington, Suite 500

    Chicago, IL 60602

    312.368.2007/312.263.3846 fax

(c) 2006 Shriver Center