FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Nov. 26, 1996
New state welfare plan continues success,
OLYMPIA - A new state welfare
plan announced by Gov. Mike Lowry today expands mandatory job
training and placement programs and utilizes a state waiver to
save Washington taxpayers nearly $22 million over the next two
The plan is required under the welfare law signed by President
Clinton last August. Already, 33 states have submitted plans,
with 13 utilizing pre-existing waivers.
"This plan prepares people on welfare to compete for good
jobs so they can get off of public assistance and stay off,"
Lowry said. "Through job training, child care and health
care assistance, we can take advantage of our strong economy to
benefit those who have not benefited in the past."
The state plan relies on House Bill 2798, a welfare reform measure
passed by the 1994 Legislature which created a waiver from federal
requirements to set up an aggressive job readiness program for
welfare recipients. Under the plan, the state will invest $8.2
million to boost Washington's job placement rates to meet new
federal requirements. Without the waiver, the state Office of
Financial Management estimates Washington would have to spend
more than $30 million to create a program to meet the federal
requirements or face financial sanctions.
"By building on our existing program, this plan is much more
cost-efficient than scrapping everything and starting over,"
The waiver allows the state to continue providing economic and
work training benefits to legal immigrants. The waiver also allows
the state to exempt parents of disabled children and single parents
with a child under three from working full-time, but only those
parents with a child under one will count in the calculations
to meet federal work requirements.
"We are probably the most prepared state in the country for
the changes that lie ahead," Lowry said in reference to the
state's two-year-old welfare reform effort. "We have been
fine tuning our welfare program to emphasize skill training and
job placement and it has paid off. In the last 12 months we have
placed 23,045 welfare clients into jobs; our waiver allows us
to continue that success while meeting the new federal work requirements."
The state plan includes a 10 percent annual reduction for families
that are on welfare for 48 out of 60 months, which supersedes
the new federal five-year lifetime limit. Those people who are
found to be unemployable can be granted hardship exemptions.
"Training for self sufficiency is the key to this plan,"
Lowry said. "The average length of stay on our current welfare
system is three years, but sometimes there are people who require
more time. We need to keep some flexibility. This plan aims to
invest in people, so that a single parent can get a job based
on her ability rather than the luck of the economy."
A 45-day public comment period on the plan will begin today and
will end on Jan. 9, 1997. Lowry will formally submit the plan
to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Jan. 10.
By submitting the plan before next July's deadline, the state
will net a first-time bonus of $15 million.
"Utilizing our waiver will preserve the essential elements
of our welfare-to-work effort, but we must remember that these
same families will be hit by federal reductions in food stamps,
child care nutrition dollars and other programs," Lowry said.
"In passing the welfare law, Congress passed on huge responsibilities
to the states, and this welfare plan is only one step toward meeting
the challenge before us."
For more information, contact the Governor's Communications Office
For copies of the state welfare plan, call 360-413-3010, or visit
the Governor's Home Page on the world wide web: http://www.wa.gov/governor