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Gov. Brown, California Democrats differ on welfare approach

Posted: June 18, 2012 1:06 p.m.
Updated: June 18, 2012 1:06 p.m.
 


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - California legislators may have passed a budget but Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic lawmakers continued negotiations Monday to try to resolve differences on how to approach welfare cuts.

Brown wants to emphasize getting people back to work, while reducing aid for parents who aren't meeting work requirements under CalWORKS, the state's welfare-to-work program. Democrats say it's foolish to pay for job training when there aren't enough jobs to go around.

They would rather preserve cash grants.

"It is inefficient and, quite frankly, foolish, to invest in training for jobs that don't exist," Assembly Speaker John Perez said last week before passing a $92 billion budget without many companion bills needed to implement the state's spending plan. "It is much better for us to focus the money we give, aid where it is needed."

CalWORKS serves about 1.4 million people, of which 1 million are children. According to the state Department of Social Services, the average family on state aid in January received $465 a month, but parents can qualify for work training, child care and other services.

Brown wants permanent structural changes to shrink the program. He has proposed tougher eligibility requirements and wants to give less aid to families where only the children qualify. In those cases, the parents may be disabled and unable to work, used up their time and are no longer eligible for welfare, or because they are illegal immigrants.

Brown offered his rationale last week for reducing dependency on welfare, saying "we need additional structural reforms to cut spending on an ongoing basis, including welfare reform that's built on President Clinton's framework and focused on getting people back to work."

Democratic leaders and advocates fear the move would drive families into homelessness at a time when unemployment remains high. They are resisting Brown's plans and have proposed extending existing cuts on county work training and child care assistance programs.

"We are not looking for a fight," said Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg. "On the other hand, we have an obligation ... to be a voice for the voiceless."

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

 

 

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