Right the wrongs of the ‘welfare queen’ law

“Did somebody invent a flux capacitor? Is Ronald Reagan president?”

That approximates my level of incredulity last year when a friend told me that California's embarrassing “welfare queen” law was still on the books. I just couldn't believe it.

Yet it's real: If a California family is receiving public assistance but brings an additional child into their household, the 21-year-old law punishes them and they're denied more aid.

Current state Republican party chairman Jim Brulte introduced this policy back in 1994, when he was in the Assembly, and it was ushered through the Capitol by Gov. Pete Wilson and the Reagan Nation contingent. Their argument was that poor women were having kids so they could get more cash from Uncle Sam.

Right. We're talking about $130 month. If you have a kid, you understand that that kind of cash doesn't go far.

But an extra $130 helps. Which is why it's a travesty that, in year 2015, this law persists and each year prevents nearly 150,000 children and their low-income families from receiving extra help.

Last year, state Sen. Holly Mitchell tried to get rid of the bogus policy, but her attempt was shelved because of budget concerns. This year, she's at it again with Senate Bill 23. Her supporters includes strange bedfellows like Planned Parenthood and the California Catholic Alliance. (Even the church gets that this law makes zero sense!)

Lawmakers remain uncertain, though. They point out that the program, if passed, would cost some $220 million a year. And they say this money could be better spent on things like job training or child care.

That may be true. But isn't it time to right a decades-old wrong, one that unfairly discriminates against poor moms and families? Isn't this about doing the right thing, no matter the cost?