February 14,2003

Statement by Senator Max Baucus Regarding Welfare Legislation

I was a strong supporter of welfare reform in 1996. Looking back, it’s clear itwas the right thing to do. The success has been dramatic. Literally thousands andthousands of American families have replaced a welfare check with a paycheck.

Given that success, I’m looking forward to working with Senator Grassleyandother members of the Finance Committee this year to develop a bipartisan measure thatbuilds on those achievements.

However, I have serious concerns with the welfare bill passed by the Housetoday. It is - in effect - an unfunded mandate on the States. It imposes expensive newwork requirements on States and does not pay for them. The Congressional BudgetOffice estimated last year that it would cost $8-11 billion fo r States to implement thework requirements in this bill, much of it for child care. Yet the bill only increases childcare funding by $1 billion.

That kind of unfunded mandate was a mistake last year when the House passed itsbill. But it’s a disaster now, given the horrible fiscal conditions the States are facing. Forthe current fiscal year, the projected deficits for the states are $70-85 billion. This is theworst situation in decades.

We need to help States now, not make things worse. That’s why I’ve proposed aone-time grant of $75 billion to States. These are no-strings-attached grants that willallow states to use the funds where they are most needed. In addition, these grants willhelp to reduce or eliminate the need for States to increase taxes or cut vital services likewelfare or child care. Aid to the states is an immediate, effective, and responsible way toboost our economy. We must continue to work together to help the states get throughthis difficult economic time, rather than burden they with additional red tape,requirements and reduced funding.