Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Reform Plan for Welfare Is Reviewed

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Reform Plan for Welfare Is Reviewed

Article excerpt

A proposal to reform the welfare system drew criticism and support last week at a public meeting.

About 50 people attended the meeting Thursday night at St. Charles City Hall. The meeting was called by state Rep. Ted House, D-St. Charles, one of the co-sponsors of a bill aimed at taking people off welfare and putting them into jobs.

"We want to end the dependence on the government that many people have in our state," House said at the meeting.

The Missouri House of Representatives is expected to vote on the bill this week.

House said that welfare laws provide "many incentives for people to be on welfare. We wanted to change the law to give incentives to be off welfare."

The bill calls for wage supplements for employers who hire welfare recipients. The state also would offer tax credits to financial institutions to develop industry in an effort to create jobs for some of the 90,000 adults receiving benefits under Aid to Families with Dependent Children, the main welfare program.

The chief sponsor of the bill, State Rep. Joe Maxwell, D-Mexico, was at the meeting Thursday.

"The goal is responsibility and accountability," Maxwell said. "The bill would put the responsibility for newborns on the parents, grandparents and the state - in that order."

Maxwell said that when an unmarried minor on welfare gives birth at a hospital, the new parents would have the opportunity to voluntarily acknowledge who the father is - thus saving the state $2 million a year establishing paternity. If the mother does not cooperate in identifying the father, almost one-third of her benefits would be eliminated. The state would attempt to determine paternity and seek payment of child support from the father's parents.

The bill also would require unmarried welfare mothers and fathers younger than 18 to live with a parent or guardian.

St. Charles resident Penny Bennett questioned this part of the bill.

"I'm thinking about the 13-year-old who was in the hospital having her baby when I had mine," she said. …

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