Corbett Rejects Ruinous Welfare Reverse-Reform

Gov. Tom Corbett has rejected the Obama administration’s waiver to water down welfare work requirements in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. In a letter to the administration, Corbett wrote:

The flexibility offered through this potential waiver will simply lock states into another round of caseload expansion and escalate welfare spending. More importantly, it will handicap our ability to ensure that an effective safety net is preserved for the truly needy who temporarily have no other means of support.

Instead of waiving work requirements, Gov. Corbett supports safeguards in welfare programs, such as block grant funding, strict work requirements, and time limits. These reforms work together to place individuals in gainful employment and break the cycle of dependency.

Four of the six states that saw a decline in TANF rolls during the recession match work requirements with time limits. For example, Rhode Island limited benefits to two consecutive years followed by one year of ineligibility and established a four year lifetime limit. These changes helped reduce welfare rolls by almost 30 percent between 2007 and 2009, despite the second highest unemployment rate in the nation. In contrast, Pennsylvanians may remain on welfare for 60 straight months.

Additionally, block grants, which limit federal funding in exchange for flexibility, are critical for Medicaid reform, where spending has ballooned by 83 percent in the last decade.

Strong work requirements, extending state flexibility outside of TANF to other programs such as Medicaid, and consecutive time limits encourage individuals to keep striving for a better life, rather than settling for a lifestyle of dependence.