The bitter welfare battles that gripped American politics two decades ago were replayed in Sacramento this week, where a dispute over how hard the government should push poor people to rejoin the workforce threatened to derail the state budget plan awaiting the governor's signature.Now you know why we have 1/3 of the recipients with only 1/8th of the population. We go on:
The debate was as much about ideology as finances, and it carried particular weight in California, which has one-third of the country's welfare recipients but only one-eighth of its total population.
California's welfare program has shrunk since President Clinton made good on his 1992 campaign promise to "end welfare as we know it" by pressuring those receiving government checks to find work. But the benefits the state provides remain among the most generous and extensive in the nation, and California is one of the few states where families get monthly checks for children even if the parents are disqualified for not working or participating in other programs.
So with the state facing a $15.7-billion deficit this year, Gov. Jerry Brown pushed for welfare cuts and changes "built on President Clinton's framework." But legislative Democrats were unmoved by references to a party icon, saying the job market is far weaker than it was in the 1990s.I'm surprised Leno could take his gaze away from his crotch long enough to work on something other than homosexual rights.
"I don't think President Clinton was dealing with an economy that looked like ours today," Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) said during a hearing last week.
Brown and lawmakers ultimately settled on stricter work requirements with some exemptions and no cuts to monthly checks. The agreement removed the last major roadblock for the state's roughly $92-billion spending plan, which is expected to clear its final legislative hurdles this week before it is signed by the governor.That's a drop in the deficit bucket - they're going to have to do better.
The Brown administration said the plan will save $469 million and is still calculating how many of the state's nearly 570,000 welfare recipients will be affected.