Friday, January 13, 2012

Brown to welfare clients: work, or else

Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing the most far-reaching changes to welfare since former President Bill Clinton and Congress overhauled the program 15 years ago. -

Brown wants to cut $1 billion from the program — nearly one-third of its general fund budget — by shortening the amount of time recipients can remain on aid and focusing the state’s cash assistance and child care subsidies on people who are moving from welfare to work.

His plan has won initial praise from the state’s independent budget analyst. But advocates for the poor say it would further marginalize the state’s already struggling underclass. And Democratic leaders in the Legislature have said they will delay any action on the proposal until after the governor’s March 1 deadline, in the hopes that state tax revenues will come in higher than Brown anticipates.

...Welfare advocates and others say that the cuts will backfire, leaving more children in poverty and leading to social problems that will cost the state far more than the cuts would save in the long run. But Brown says he has no other choice than to propose changes that Democrats would have at one time would have considered cruel.

“We can’t spend what we don’t have,” he said when he released his budget proposal in early January. “It’s not nice. We don’t like it. But the economy and the tax statutes of California make only so much money available. We have to spend it and make tough choices.”