Half Of States Unlikely To Meet First Welfare Deadline
26 states say they won't have 75 percent of two-parent welfare families working or in job training by this week
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Sep. 29) -- Last year's welfare reform law requires states to have 75 percent of their two-parent welfare families working or in job training by this Wednesday, but an Associated Press survey has found fewer than half the states are likely meet that deadline.
At least 16 states are certain they will not reach the goal in time, while another ten admit they are either unlikely to or unsure of meeting the target date. Under law, federal funding could be withheld from states that miss the deadline.
President Bill Clinton appeared unconcerned about the non-compliance statistics. "It doesn't shake my confidence," Clinton said during a press conference Monday morning. "I think most states are really working hard in good faith." (256K wav sound)
But the president did say he would seek the advice of aides concerning possible penalties. (224K wav sound)
Among those who say they will miss this week's deadline are some of the nation's largest states, including California, Florida and Texas.
The deadline is the first test of the welfare reform law. The welfare-to-work initiative says that welfare recipients must have a regular job or subsidized position, or be participating in community service, a job training program or a limited job search. By 2002, states must have 90 percent of two-parent family in work-related programs.
By Wednesday 25 percent of all families must also be in a "work activity," but most states have been able to reach this goal. By 2002, half of all families receiving welfare must do the same.
Fines for missing the deadline can reach as high as 5 percent of the state's welfare money, but the Department of Health and Human Services has considerable flexibility to waive penalties.
The agency plans to make state-by-state assessments, but many states are gambling that no money will be withheld at this first milestone.
States that will meet the two-parent family participation target: Arizona, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
States that probably will meet the target: Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, North Dakota and Ohio.
States that will not meet the two-parent family participation target: Alabama, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas and Vermont.
States that will probably not meet the target: Alaska, Minnesota and Virginia.
States that do not yet know if they will meet the target: Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island and West Virginia.
The survey of states was conducted by the AP. No information is available for Washington state.
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Monday Sept. 29, 1997
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