PRESIDENT CLINTON'S RADIO ADDRESS TO THE NATION: ANNOUNCING WELFARE REFORM ACHIEVEMENTS AND BUDGET WINS FOR AMERICA'S FAMILIES December 16, 2000
Today, in his weekly radio address, President Clinton will announce new victories for the American people in the recent budget agreement, and new progress in moving people from welfare to work. He will announce $200 million in bonuses to states with the best performance in placing welfare recipients in jobs and helping them succeed in the workforce, and new figures showing that welfare caseloads have dropped by more than 8 million recipients over the past 8 years -- the lowest level in over three decades. To build on this success, President Clinton will call on states to invest available resources and use the flexibility provided by this Administration to support working families and help even more parents on welfare enter the workforce. President Clinton also will highlight new achievements in the bipartisan FY 2001 budget agreement to expand access to health coverage and child care, increase investment in hard-pressed communities, and invest in high quality education for our nation's young people.
WELFARE CASELOADS CUT NEARLY 60 PERCENT SINCE 1993. The President will release new data showing that welfare caseloads have dropped by 8.3 million -- nearly 60 percent -- since 1993 from 14.1 million to 5.8 million recipients as of June 2000. Since the welfare reform law was signed in August 1996, caseloads have declined by more than 50 percent. These dramatic caseload reductions bring welfare caseloads to the lowest level since 1968 and the proportion of the total U.S. population on welfare is down to 2.1 percent, the lowest in 37 years.
BONUSES AWARDED TO STATES FOR WELFARE TO WORK SUCCESS. The President will announce that 27 states and the District of Columbia will share $200 million in bonuses for superior results in reforming welfare. This is the second year that the high performance bonuses, which the President fought hard to authorize in the 1996 welfare reform law, will be given to the states with the best results and greatest improvement in moving parents from welfare into jobs and promoting their success in the workforce, measured by job retention and earnings gains. The states ranked the highest in each category are Idaho (job placement), Arizona (job success), Arkansas (biggest improvement in job placement) and Wisconsin (biggest improvement in job success). Other states that were in the top ten for one or more of these categories and will receive bonuses are: AL, CA, CT, DE, D.C., FL, HI, IL, IN, MN, MO, MI, MT, NV, NJ, NC, ND, OK, TN, TX, UT, VA, WV, and WY. Nine of these states will receive bonuses in more than one category, with Arkansas, Hawaii and Wisconsin winning in three categories. In August, the Department of Health and Human Services released a final rule that will add new measures for future high performance bonuses, offering incentives for states to provide health coverage, food stamps and child care for eligible families and to encourage the formation of two-parent families.
NEW DATA SHOW MILLIONS GOING TO WORK. Between October 1998 and September 1999, 1.2 million welfare recipients nationwide went to work, according to reports filed by the 48 states and D.C. competing for the bonus. Retention rates were also promising, with 77 percent of those who got jobs still working in the next quarter, and average earnings up by 31 percent for former welfare recipients, from $2,027 in the first quarter of employment to $2,647 in the third quarter. This builds on the President's announcement earlier this year that all 50 states and the District of Columbia met the overall work participation rates for all families in 1999. The national percentage of adults still on welfare who were working reached a record 33 percent in 1999, nearly five times more than in 1992. These remarkable employment gains have been maintained even with record caseload declines moving many of the more job-ready welfare recipients off the rolls, because all levels of government, the private sector and welfare recipients themselves have all done their part. The Welfare to Work Partnership, launched in 1997, has grown from 5 founding companies to over 20,000 business partners, who have hired an estimated 1.1 million former welfare recipients. Under Vice President Gore's leadership, the federal government has also done its fair share, hiring nearly 50,000 parents off of welfare. And, with support from states and communities, families across America are now working and taking responsibility for their children. Child support collections have doubled since 1992, the poverty rate is the lowest in 20 years, and teen birth rates are at the lowest level in the 60 years on record.
BIPARTISAN BUDGET AGREEMENT EXTENDS HEALTH CARE COVERAGE FOR THOSE LEAVING WELFARE FOR WORK. Health insurance is a critical support necessary to make a successful transition from welfare to work. The budget agreement extends the current policy of providing a year of Medicaid coverage for people leaving welfare for work, which was scheduled to expire this year, for an additional 12 months.
BUDGET AGREEMENT IS A VICTORY FOR AMERICA'S PRIORITIES. President Clinton and Vice President Gore have fought for and won key funding in Fiscal Year 2001 to help expand opportunities and support America's working families for Fiscal Year 2001. This budget agreement makes unprecedented investments in education and demands more in return by securing funding to: help repair our crumbling schools, reduce class sizes in the early grades, expand afterschool opportunities, enhance teacher quality, and hold schools accountable for student achievement. This bipartisan agreement invests $35 billion over 5 years in Medicare, Medicaid, and S-CHIP; increases public health spending by 16 percent; and almost doubles our investment in biomedical research since 1993. It also funds critical programs to help cover more uninsured children; expand home health care; invest in hospitals and nursing homes that serve low-income communities; and increase investments in child care. It also includes passage of the President's historic New Markets initiative designed to dramatically spur unprecedented levels of new investment in low-income underserved communities across America.
BUILDING ON A RECORD OF SUCCESS. Since taking office, the Clinton-Gore Administration has significantly expanded critical supports for working families, raising the minimum wage, expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, doubling child care funding, improving access to jobs by supporting creative local transportation solutions, and giving families strong incentives and new opportunities to move from welfare to work. This year alone, the Administration worked with Congress to: secure 79,000 new rental housing vouchers, bringing the Administration's total to nearly 200,000; enact important changes to the Food Stamp Program, making it easier to own a reliable car and recognizing the impact of high housing costs on low-income working families; invest $25 million to help low-income families save through Individual Development Accounts; and provide states, communities and nonprofits with an additional two years to utilize existing Welfare-to-Work funds to help long-term welfare recipients and noncustodial parents work and support their children.