Several developments in the world of welfare reform surfaced Thursday (3-15). On a national level, Republican governors turned the former bipartisan governors’ welfare overhaul into partisan issue by announcing their work was finished. Democrats were left out of the statement and said that many problems have still not been resolved. While Democrats criticized the premature announcement, House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R- Ga.) praised it and announced that he plans to present a bill to President Clinton by April or May. The bill will be introduced in the House on March 25.
California Assembly Republicans approved a bill to cut funds to elderly, blind, and disabled welfare recipients by $1 billion. Sought by Gov. Pete Wilson, the bill would repeal a law that mandates an increase in welfare benefits each year in step with inflation. The bill has been criticized by Democrats as “wicked” and “anti-woman, anti-children, anti-aged and anti-disabled.”
In Wisconsin, Gov. Tommy Thompson plans to sign a bill to put welfare mothers to work and would require people to work in jobs paying less than minimum wage, an effort some say amounts to “slave labor.” The bill, called first of its kind, will replace Aid to Families with Dependent Children starting July 1997. It includes programs such as Learnfare, which reduces benefits for families when children miss school, and Bridefare which encourages teen mothers to marry.