Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Welfare Reform Plans Made by Legislators

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Welfare Reform Plans Made by Legislators

Article excerpt

Associated Press

A last-ditch stab at welfare reform is promised by legislative leaders in the waning days of the 1995 Oklahoma Legislature.

With only two weeks to go, a comprehensive package is not considered likely for several reasons. Not the least among them is that so many changes are coming down from the federal government that the state would not be prudent to overhaul the system at the current time.

But Senate President Pro Tem Stratton Taylor and House Speaker Glen Johnson predicted a House-Senate conference panel would come up with "a significant" measure.

`We're going to have a meaningful bill _ a bill that ties welfare to work," Taylor said after the Legislature adjourned last week.

Meanwhile, children's advocates have launched an attack on some proposals they say will punish children.

In news conferences last week, officials with private groups that concentrate on children's issues said the clamor for changes is being driven by myths about the current welfare system.

Stephen Dow of Project Get Together and Sandy Ingram of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy issued "a Mother's Day message," saying poverty would increase among poor mothers and their children if proposed changes are enacted.

They said they support changes in the system to increase self-reliance and reduce poverty, but not arbitrary programs such as fund cutoffs that would increase the plight of poor families.

Meanwhile, a group of Republican House members issued a statement in support of their plan to deny increased AFDC payments to mothers who have another child.

Rep. Wayne Pettigrew cited support for such caps by a number of national organizations. Under the proposal, Pettigrew said, expanded families would continue to get Medicaid and food stamps and could earn more money if they go to work.

The benefit cap drew opposition last week from a right-to-life spokesman, who told lawmakers it would encourage more abortions among the poor.

Dow said the idea that AFDC mothers have more children to obtain more benefits is one of the myths about the system.

He cited statistics that AFDC families are smaller than the general population and said children born to mothers on AFDC make up only 2. …

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