Tom Vilsack on Welfare & Poverty
Democratic IA Governor
Provide heating and energy assistance for poor families
The administration supports increased funding for the Low Income Heating and Energy Assistance Program to cover inflation and increased energy costs.
Source: Press Release
, Jan 23, 2004
Finish welfare reform by moving able recipients into jobs.
Vilsack signed the manifesto, "A New Agenda for the New Decade":
Help Working Families Lift Themselves from Poverty
In the 1990s, Americans resolved to end welfare dependency and forge a new social compact on the basis of work and reciprocal responsibility. The results so far are encouraging: The welfare rolls have been cut by more than half since 1992 without the social calamities predicted by defenders of the old welfare entitlement. People are more likely than ever to leave welfare for work, and even those still on welfare are four times more likely to be working. But the job of welfare reform will not be done until we help all who can
work to find and keep jobs -- including absent fathers who must be held responsible for supporting their children.
In the next decade, progressives should embrace an even more ambitious social goal -- helping every working family lift itself from poverty. Our new social compact must reinforce work, responsibility, and family.
By expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, increasing the supply of affordable child care, reforming tax policies that hurt working families, making sure absent parents live up to their financial obligations, promoting access to home ownership and other wealth-building assets, and refocusing other social policies on the new goal of rewarding work, we can create a new progressive guarantee: No American family with a full-time worker will live in poverty.
Goals for 2010 Finish the job of welfare reform by moving all recipients who can work into jobs.
Source: The Hyde Park Declaration 00-DLC3 on Aug 1, 2000
- Cut the poverty rate in half.
- Double child support collections and require every father who owes child support to go to work to pay it off.
Support LIHEAP, low-income heating assistance.
Vilsack signed the Midwestern Governors' Conference resolution:
Source: Resolution of Midwestern Governors' Conf. on LIHEAP 00-MGC2 on May 25, 2000
- WHEREAS, The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) enables states to assist low-income households in meeting critical heating and cooling needs; and
- WHEREAS, More than two-thirds of households eligible for LIHEAP have annual incomes under $8,000, making LIHEAP a targeted, cost-effective way to help low-income citizens pay their home energy bills; and
- WHEREAS, Households served because of LIHEAP include the most vulnerable populations in our states ? the elderly, disabled, and young children; and
- WHEREAS, LIHEAP provides a foundation upon which the Midwestern states have built community-based energy assistance programs and has permitted us to leverage state and local dollars to meet the needs of our citizens; and
- WHEREAS, In past years, funding for LIHEAP has been substantially reduced, and any new funding cuts will impede the statesí ability to meet the energy needs of low-income households; now therefore be it
- RESOLVED, That the Midwestern Governorsí Conference encourages Congress to renew its support for LIHEAP and maintain funding in Fiscal Year 2001 at or above the level appropriated for the program in Fiscal Year 2000.
Promote the next generation of welfare reform.
Vilsack is a member of the Democratic Governors Association:
Principles of the Democratic Governors Association:
PROMOTING PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY THROUGH THE NEXT GENERATION OF WELFARE REFORM
Democratic Governors are promoting the next stage of welfare reform: helping families rise above poverty; providing access to the health insurance, transportation and child care that make it possible for single parents with children to go to and stay in work; and focusing on the fathers of children on welfare, to not only make sure they meet their responsibilities to their kids, but to help them find the work necessary to do so.
Source: DGA website, www.DemocraticGovernors.org/ 01-DGA3 on Aug 15, 2001
Maintain federal Social Services Block Grant funding.
Vilsack adopted the National Governors Association position paper:
The IssueDespite an ongoing need to provide social services to families, the elderly, and the disabled, federal funding for the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) has been cut dramatically over the past few years, indicating a weakening of the historic state-federal partnership to serve needy Americans. In 1996, as part of the historic welfare reform agreement, Congress agreed to provide the states $2.38 billion each year for SSBG. Since that time, funding has been chipped away little by little. This year, SSBG is funded at $1.725 billion.
NGAís Position The nationís Governors have consistently supported the broad flexibility of the SSBG and are adamantly opposed to cuts in federal funding for the program. Governors believe that funding for SSBG is among the most valuable federal investment that can be made for the nationís most vulnerable population.
Further cuts will be difficult for state and local governments to absorb and will cause a disruption in the delivery of the most critical human services. Governors believe that funding for SSBG should be restored to $2.38 billion, and transferability should be permanently restored to 10 percent, the levels that were agreed to as part of the 1996 welfare reform law.
In 1996, Governors reluctantly agreed to a slight reduction in funding for SSBG, from $2.8 billion to $2.38 billion, with the understanding that funding would remain at $2.38 billion through fiscal 2002, and then return to $2.8 billion. However, the federal government has consistently broken that promise. The nationís Governors strongly urge Congress and the administration to reject the proposed cuts and to restore funding and flexibility to the program.
Source: National Governors Association "Issues / Positions" 01-NGA14 on Sep 7, 2001
Maintain flexibility & funding levels for TANF block grants.
Vilsack adopted the National Governors Association position paper:
The IssueThe 1996 welfare reform law, including the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant, needs to be reauthorized before September 30, 2002.
In 1996, the Governors, Congress, and the administration entered into a historic welfare reform agreement. In exchange for assuming the risk involved with accepting the primary responsibility for transforming the welfare system from one of dependency to self-sufficiency, Governors agreed to guaranteed funding for the life of the TANF block grant along with significant flexibility to administer federal programs. The current NGA policy on welfare reform makes three key points:
Source: National Governors Association "Issues / Positions" 01-NGA17 on Sep 21, 2001
- Maintain flexibility. The TANF block grant was created so that states could develop innovative approaches to addressing welfare reform, and states have been successful in tailoring their programs to meet the individual needs of their citizens. This flexibility must be maintained so that states can
continue the progress of welfare reform.
- Maintain investment. States are provided with $16.5 billion each year in federal TANF funds, which together with the required state maintenance-of-effort funds, finance welfare reform. Some will argue that the funding should be cut because of the dramatic drop in caseloads. But TANF is no longer just about cash assistance - states are now serving a much broader population than under the old welfare system, and states are now providing services to families that help them succeed and advance in the workplace, not just cutting a check for cash each month.
- Move toward greater program alignment. The Food Stamp Program is one example of a program that is in great need of reform, and its connection to welfare reform should be discussed in the context of reauthorization. Other related programs that should be considered include child support, child welfare, housing, the Workforce Investment Act and Medicaid.