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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release December 4, 1999

Today, President Clinton is taking new action to promote work and responsibility as he awards states the first high performance bonuses for superior results in moving people from welfare to work. The President is awarding $200 million in bonuses to 27 states with the best performance in placing welfare recipients in jobs and helping them succeed in the workforce, and announcing that welfare caseloads have fallen by more than half since he took office, a record decline of 7.2 million recipients. The President also is unveiling a new regulation that will reward states for ensuring that families moving from welfare to work get the health and nutritional assistance they need, as well as for fostering two parent families and helping more people leave welfare for work.

BONUSES FOR WELFARE TO WORK SUCCESS. The President is announcing that 27 states have been awarded the first high performance bonuses created to reward superior results in reforming welfare. The $200 million in bonuses, which the President fought hard to authorize in the 1996 welfare reform legislation, will be given to the top ten states with the best records in each of four categories related to moving parents on welfare into jobs and their success in the workforce. The states ranked the highest in each category are Indiana (job placement), Minnesota (job success, measured by job retention and earnings), Washington (biggest improvement in job placement) and Florida (biggest improvement in job success, measured by job retention and earnings). The other states that will be receiving bonuses are Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Twelve states received bonuses in more than one category.

NATIONWIDE DATA SHOW MILLIONS GOING TO WORK. According to reports filed by the 46 states competing for the bonus, more than 1.3 million welfare recipients nationwide went to work in just the one year period between October 1997 and September 1998. Retention rates were also promising: 80 percent of those who got jobs were still working three months later. States also reported an average earnings increase of 23 percent for former welfare recipients, from $2,088 in the first quarter of employment to $2,571 in the third quarter.

WELFARE CASELOAD CUT BY MORE THAN HALF SINCE 1993. The President is also releasing new welfare caseload numbers showing 6.9 million recipients on welfare as of June 1999, a decrease of 7.2 million or 51 percent since 1993. The number of recipients as a proportion of the total U.S. population is now at 2.5 percent, the lowest since 1967. The number of people who have left welfare since the President took office (7.2 million) now exceeds the number remaining on the rolls (6.9 million) for the first time.

NEW ACTIONS TO HELP WORKING FAMILIES. The President is also announcing today that new categories of awards will be added to the high performance bonus beginning next October. He is unveiling a new regulation proposed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) which will retain the current four work measures, but add new categories for enrollment in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP); enrollment in the Food Stamp program; and family formation. These new measures will ensure that welfare reform will continue to move millions of families from dependence to independence, by encouraging work, supporting working families to help them succeed and stay off welfare, and increasing the number of low-income children living with two married parents.

Under the new measures, states will compete for bonuses based on 1) improvement in the percentage of families moving from welfare to work with health insurance through Medicaid or CHIP; 2) improvement in the percentage of low-income working families eligible for Food Stamps who get them; and 3) improvement in the percentage of children below 200 percent of poverty residing in married couple families. A total of $60 million will be available for these three measures, and $140 million for the work measures.

A RECORD OF PROMOTING WORK AND SUPPORTING WORKING FAMILIES. At the President?s insistence, the 1996 welfare reform legislation included both rewards and penalties to encourage states to place people in jobs. The President announced earlier this year that all 50 states and the District of Columbia met the overall work participation rates for all families in 1998 while 28 of the 41 states subject to a separate two-parent family rate met it. Nationally, the percentage of adults still on welfare who were working reached 27 percent, a nearly fourfold increase over the 7 percent recorded in 1992.

The Clinton Administration has also worked hard to ensure that all working families eligible for health insurance and nutritional assistance get these important work supports. Both HHS and the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently issued guidance to states reminding them that applications must be processed without delay, and both agencies have launched aggressive outreach campaigns to help states reach working families eligible for Food Stamps, Medicaid and the new Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Earlier this month, HHS Secretary Shalala and Education Secretary Riley convened a meeting of state Medicaid and welfare officials to discuss new strategies for school-based outreach for Medicaid and CHIP. And at the President?s request, the recent budget agreement also includes a provision extending the deadline for states to use a special $500 million fund, enacted in the 1996 welfare reform law, to cover the cost of Medicaid outreach activities.

In July 1999, the President took executive actions to help ensure working families who need Food Stamps have access to them. These steps included:

The President has consistently urged states to use the resources provided through the welfare reform law and the flexibility provided in the welfare reform rules he announced in April of 1999 to help more families who need additional help to leave the welfare rolls and to support working families to succeed in the workforce. Today's actions will build upon these efforts.