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George Pataki on Welfare & Poverty

Republican NY Governor

 


Mandatory workfare ends dependency, not cultural change

Q: Do we need a cultural change to end welfare dependency?

PATAKI: The answer is no. I know this, because when I ran for governor, one in 11 of every New Yorker was on welfare. But I knew that good people who wanted to be a part of the American dream have become trapped in dependency because the federal government and the state government had made it in their economic interest not to take a job because the benefits that they didn't work were better. I changed that. We put in place mandatory workfare.

Source: Fox News/Facebook Second Tier debate transcript , Aug 6, 2015

Replace dependency with opportunity

It seems like liberals have so much compassion for the poor that they keep creating more of them. When I took office, we had every poverty program Government could think of, yet one in 11 of every New Yorker was on welfare. Not Social Security or Disability. One in 11 of every man, woman and child in the state of New York, from the tip of Long Island to the shores of Lake Erie, was on welfare.

The American Dream did not seem real to them. But after 12 years of my conservative policies, we replaced dependency with opportunity, resignation with hope, mere existence with dreams, and a welfare check with a pay check. When I left office over 1 million fewer people were on welfare than when I began.

Conservative policies replaced dependency with opportunity in New York State. I know we can do the same thing in the United States.

Source: 2016 presidential campaign website: Announcement speech , May 28, 2015

Four-year limit for full welfare benefits

In early 1997 Pataki unveiled his welfare reform plan, cutting benefits to recipients who do not find work by 45% over four years.
Source: National Journal, the Almanac of American Politics , Jul 6, 2000

Maintain federal Social Services Block Grant funding.

Pataki adopted the National Governors Association position paper:

The Issue

Despite an ongoing need to provide social services to families, the elderly, and the disabled, federal funding for the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) has been cut dramatically over the past few years, indicating a weakening of the historic state-federal partnership to serve needy Americans. In 1996, as part of the historic welfare reform agreement, Congress agreed to provide the states $2.38 billion each year for SSBG. Since that time, funding has been chipped away little by little. This year, SSBG is funded at $1.725 billion.

NGAís Position

The nationís Governors have consistently supported the broad flexibility of the SSBG and are adamantly opposed to cuts in federal funding for the program. Governors believe that funding for SSBG is among the most valuable federal investment that can be made for the nationís most vulnerable population. Further cuts will be difficult for state and local governments to absorb and will cause a disruption in the delivery of the most critical human services. Governors believe that funding for SSBG should be restored to $2.38 billion, and transferability should be permanently restored to 10 percent, the levels that were agreed to as part of the 1996 welfare reform law.

In 1996, Governors reluctantly agreed to a slight reduction in funding for SSBG, from $2.8 billion to $2.38 billion, with the understanding that funding would remain at $2.38 billion through fiscal 2002, and then return to $2.8 billion. However, the federal government has consistently broken that promise. The nationís Governors strongly urge Congress and the administration to reject the proposed cuts and to restore funding and flexibility to the program.

Source: National Governors Association "Issues / Positions" 01-NGA14 on Sep 7, 2001

Maintain flexibility & funding levels for TANF block grants.

Pataki adopted the National Governors Association position paper:

The Issue

The 1996 welfare reform law, including the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant, needs to be reauthorized before September 30, 2002.

NGAís Position

    In 1996, the Governors, Congress, and the administration entered into a historic welfare reform agreement. In exchange for assuming the risk involved with accepting the primary responsibility for transforming the welfare system from one of dependency to self-sufficiency, Governors agreed to guaranteed funding for the life of the TANF block grant along with significant flexibility to administer federal programs. The current NGA policy on welfare reform makes three key points:
  1. Maintain flexibility. The TANF block grant was created so that states could develop innovative approaches to addressing welfare reform, and states have been successful in tailoring their programs to meet the individual needs of their citizens. This flexibility must be maintained so that states can continue the progress of welfare reform.
  2. Maintain investment. States are provided with $16.5 billion each year in federal TANF funds, which together with the required state maintenance-of-effort funds, finance welfare reform. Some will argue that the funding should be cut because of the dramatic drop in caseloads. But TANF is no longer just about cash assistance - states are now serving a much broader population than under the old welfare system, and states are now providing services to families that help them succeed and advance in the workplace, not just cutting a check for cash each month.
  3. Move toward greater program alignment. The Food Stamp Program is one example of a program that is in great need of reform, and its connection to welfare reform should be discussed in the context of reauthorization. Other related programs that should be considered include child support, child welfare, housing, the Workforce Investment Act and Medicaid.
Source: National Governors Association "Issues / Positions" 01-NGA17 on Sep 21, 2001

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Page last updated: Mar 12, 2016