May 16 2002
WASHINGTON, DC - Senator Tom Carper testified before the Senate Finance Committee today that new welfare reform efforts must put work first, strengthen families, equip people with the tools to achieve self-sufficiency and give states the resources and flexibility to meet strict work requirements. Carper, Senator Evan Bayh and Senator Bob Graham yesterday formally introduced their welfare reform bill The Work and Family Act - to accomplish each of those goals. "The goal must not be to simply move people off of welfare but to move them into work and help them achieve real independence. Responsible welfare reform must demand work but also expand assistance for childcare, reduce teen pregnancy and offer a real opportunity for success," Carper said. The Bayh, Carper, Graham approach aims to build on the successes of the landmark welfare reform bill passed in 1996 by setting bold objectives to put work first and strengthen families while giving states the resources and flexibility they need to accomplish those goals. "The administration's plan demands greater work but does not provide the help families need to meet those goals. Other plans promise more funding but have set the bar lower for work and thus demand less personal responsibility. Our bill combines the best of each," Carper said. Insisting that work is the best way to achieve self-sufficiency, the Senators want to increase state work participation requirements to 70 percent, replace the "caseload reduction credit" with an employment credit, and ask welfare recipients to work a full 40-hour week. But unlike the Administration's proposal, the Bayh, Carper, Graham bill provides states with the resources - including $8 billion in child care funding - and incentives - such as a credit for moving people into higher-paying jobs - to succeed in moving more people to self?sufficiency. As Governor of Delaware, Carper instituted a successful welfare reform policy, reducing teen pregnancy and cutting Delaware's welfare rolls by over 50%.