THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
Today, I am pleased to announce two important steps my Administration is taking to continue our progress in making work and responsibility the law of the land.
First, today we have given the green light to the first two states to submit their state plans under the new law -- Wisconsin and Michigan. Both states will receive funding under the new welfare block grant for FY 1997 as well as part of FY 1996, and will now come under all the requirements of the new welfare law, including the work requirements and the five-year lifetime limit on welfare receipt. Both states no longer need an AFDC waiver to carry out their welfare reform plans.
I am especially pleased by this action, because as I have said before, Wisconsin's plan to replace the broken AFDC system with a system based on work is one of the boldest, most revolutionary welfare reform plans in the country. I am delighted to see it move forward. Michigan is also embarking on an innovative plan to reward and require work and demand responsibility. I congratulate both states for recognizing what all Americans agree on: welfare reform is first and foremost about work.
Second, tomorrow we will release the first allotment of child care funds to the states. I fought hard for the increased child care funding in the new law, because I believe that child care is essential to move people from welfare to work. Under the provisions we fought for, funding in the new child care block grant for states will increase this year from $1.3 billion to $1.9 billion. That means states will receive $600 million more for child care this year than they would have received without the new law.
These steps build on the progress we have already made over the last four years to reform welfare and crack down on child support enforcement. Since I took office, the welfare rolls have dropped by 1.9 million; child support collections have increased by nearly 50% to a record $11.8 billion; and last year's decline in the number of Americans in poverty was the largest one-year drop in 27 years. I am determined to keep working to make sure these trends continue moving in the right direction.