JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – The Mississippi House Democratic Caucus and the Senate Democratic Caucus held its first hearing on the ongoing welfare scandal.

Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS) Director Bob Anderson and leaders from poverty focused organizations testified during Tuesday’s hearing. The goal was to get a deeper look into how federal dollars were misspent and to see how the state can better serve low-income families.

The first witness to testify was Anderson, who spent the majority of his time discussing operations at MDHS. According to Anderson, 90% of applicants are denied or abandon their application for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program funds due to restrictive requirements.

“I told my staff when I arrived that I thought we were doing a woefully inadequate job at providing basic assistance to families,” Anderson said. “I want to get to the individual answers about why families either don’t feel comfortable coming to us to apply or what figures into their decision to abandon.”

According to State Representative Robert Johnson, restrictive qualifiers such as mandatory drug test as measures the legislature is looking to change in 2023.

The caucus plans to hold more hearings in the future.