Pennsylvania Secretary of Revenue Daniel Meuser said last month in Somerset that plans are being made to restructure Pennsylvania's welfare system.
Secretary of Public Welfare Gary Alexander revamped Rhode Island's welfare system in 2008 so Pennsylvania's may be drawn up along those same lines. Alexander said in a speech in February that the department should be made an employment first agency that spurs people to get jobs instead of public benefits.
The drive "to end welfare as we know it" has been ongoing since 1996 when President Bill Clinton signed the revamped federal law Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. TANF created time limits and work rules. It also capped federal spending. Thirty-two states were able to reduce their caseloads by two-thirds or more. But that was before the recession that began in 2007. Now the number of poor families is growing.
Researchers at the Urban Institute report that one in four low-income single mothers nationwide - about 1.5 million - are jobless and without cash aid. They still receive food stamps. The food stamp rolls have reached record highs. Most also live in subsidized housing.
Pennsylvania's welfare department's budget is 40 percent of the state's annual budget. It would be much better if people could be educated to get jobs thereby reducing the welfare department's budget. It is time for legislators to look at how best to restructure welfare.
- The Daily American