Today\’s Presidential Action

President Bush called on Congress to pass strong state and local flexibility as part of welfare reform, including a Ticket to Independence provision that allows state and local governments to more effectively help people move from welfare dependency to work.

The President visited a faith-based organization in Columbus, Ohio that helps welfare recipients make the transition to work and independence. He met with state and local welfare officials in Ohio who have helped to develop creative local welfare solutions. He also met with former welfare recipients who have been helped by creative local programs – such as a young man who participated in an innovative at-risk youth intervention program. The young man is now employed and on track to receive his high school degree and become a certified computer technician.

Background on the President\’s Welfare Reform Agenda

This year, Congress must act to reauthorize the historic 1996 welfare reform law. President Bush proposes to build on the success of the bipartisan 1996 reforms by making welfare even more focused on the well-being of children and supportive of families. The President\’s plan is designed to strengthen families and help more welfare recipients work toward independence and self-reliance. The President\’s welfare reform plan will:

  • Help more welfare recipients achieve independence through work. The President\’s plan requires welfare recipients to work 40 hours per week – either at a job or in programs designed to help them achieve independence.
  • Protect children and strengthen families. The President proposes to continue historically high levels of support for childcare ($4.8 billion per year) through the Child Care and Development Block Grant. The President\’s welfare reform plan also provides states financial incentives to give more of the past-due child support payments they collect to mothers and children.
  • Provide compassionate food assistance to legal immigrants in need. The President\’s proposal will allow legal immigrants to receive food stamps five years after entry to the United States – ensuring adequate nutrition among children and other vulnerable immigrant groups. The President\’s plan also continues to require new entrants to support themselves and their families through work and continues the existing five-year ban on welfare benefits for non-citizens entering the country after 1996.
  • Empower states to seek new and innovative solutions to help welfare recipients achieve independence. One of the key pillars of the President\’s welfare reform plan, as well as the 1996 welfare reform law, is to encourage innovation by states and local governments to help people move from welfare dependency toward independence.

The President\’s plan establishes a Ticket to Independence program to encourage state and local innovation. Under the President\’s plan, state and local governments will be able to consolidate a range of welfare programs (such as food stamps, housing, workforce programs, and adult education) in order to eliminate conflicting requirements, reduce red tape and improve their effectiveness for the people they serve. This new flexibility will help states design better programs that could significantly improve service delivery for Americans in need.

For example, currently, several of the major welfare assistance programs (food stamps, housing programs and workforce programs) operate under different federal and state agencies, each with their own sets of rules, regulations and reporting requirements. The President\’s Ticket to Independence proposal would allow states to streamline these programs so that states would have a single application, a single set of performance measures, and a single set of reporting requirements. This streamlining will enable states and local governments to spend fewer resources on federal paperwork and more resources on helping people to achieve independence from welfare.