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State Revisits "Welfare to Work"

April 19, 2007


The Minnesota House today will consider a plan that could impact tens of thousands of households. Deborah Schlick with the Affirmative Options Coalition says the legislation would change state law to help more families get out of poverty and into the workforce.

"This bill would restore some of the most successful pieces of Minnesota's early "Welfare to Work" program, primarily by restoring work incentives, and by making sure work pays, so that there's an incentive to work.

She notes that the state downsized the programs several years ago to help balance the budget. The plan would also reinstate access to training and education for parents to help them get good paying jobs. A similar bill has already passed the Senate.

Schlick believes the proposal will slow an alarming trend.

"For the first time, Minn. has led the nation on a list we don't want to lead. And, that is, this state has seen the steepest increase in the number of people in deep poverty. Between 2000 and 2005, it's been a 62 percent increase, and that's mostly children and their mothers."

Schlick adds that the bill rewards work and makes it more likely for more Minnesotans to move out of poverty and welfare and get into the workforce, and that it benefits both low-income families and taxpayers.

"This bill uses federal block grants to rebuild a strong Minn. welfare-to-work program. And, it protects the state budget from federal penalties. So, we have a chance in Minn. to do something that helps the poorest children in the state and return very sound fiscal practice to the Minn. budget."

The Affirmative Options Coalition represents 50 statewide anti-poverty and faith-based groups. More information is available at www.affirmativeoptions.org.

Jim Wishner/Eric Mack, Public News Service - MN