ONE YEAR LATER -- WELFARE REFORM IS SUCCEEDING
One year ago this month, President Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act into law saying "... this legislation provides an historic opportunity to end welfare as we know it and transform our broken welfare system by promoting the fundamental values of work, responsibility, and family." With the President's leadership, welfare reform is working. Today, the President travels to St. Louis, Missouri to mark this anniversary and highlight the key role the private sector must play in moving welfare recipients into the workplace.
Largest Decline in the Welfare Rolls in History: From January 1993 to May 1997, the number of people receiving welfare benefits fell by 24 percent, or 3.4 million recipients. This represents the largest decline in welfare rolls in history and the lowest percentage of the population on welfare since 1970. This decline is a result of: strong economic performance under the President's leadership; the President's strategy to work with states to reform welfare by granting Federal waivers to 43 states; and the provisions of the new 1996 welfare law.
The New Balanced Budget Will Help Us Do More: President Clinton fought to ensure that the recently signed balanced budget agreement would build on this record. The plan includes a $3 billion Welfare to Work Jobs Challenge fund and an expanded Work Opportunity Tax Credit to help move long-term welfare recipients into jobs and meet the President,s goal of moving a million more people from welfare to work by the year 2000. The new balanced budget also makes good on the President's promise to restore disability and health benefits to legal immigrants, continue Medicaid coverage for disabled children, and provide funds for work slots for unemployed food stamp recipients. These changes keep the President's commitment to fix those provisions of the welfare law that had nothing to do with moving people from welfare to work.
Mobilizing the Business Community -- The Welfare to Work Partnership: At the President's urging, the Welfare to Work Partnership was launched in May 1997 to lead a national private-sector effort to move people from welfare to work. Founded with 100 participating businesses, the Partnership has now grown to more than 800 members. Today's event in St. Louis launches the Partnership's City to City Challenge. The Partnership will work closely with community and business leaders in 12 high-poverty cities during the next year to promote innovative and effective welfare to work initiatives.
The Welfare to Work Partnership provides several tools to businesses around the country, including: a toll-free number (1-888-USAJOB1); a world wide web site (www.welfaretowork.org); and a guide to help companies recruit, train, hire and retain welfare recipients (Blueprint for Business: Reaching a New Work Force).