The Senate Finance Committee brushed aside White House objections and voted yesterday to give the states and cities $1 billion in special "fiscal relief" money for welfare costs. That would be in addition to regular federal welfare reimbursements to the states.
"This is a one-time, $1 billion grant to the states for fiscal relief," said Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynathan (D. N.Y.), the provision's sponsor, adding that it carried out a plank in the 1976 Democratic Party platform that had been endorsed by Jimmy Carter during his campaign.
The platform provision states that has a means of providing immediate federal fiscal relief to state and local governments, local governments should no longer be required to bear the burden of welfare costs."
Committee Chairman Russell B. Long (D.La.) said with a laugh, "Sen. Moynithan wrote the plank.
As the committee was voting Abraham A. Ribicoff (D-Conn.), a former Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, expressed considerable doubt that the administration has a firm conceptual grasp of the broad welfare reform proposal it is due to send to Congress on Aug. 4.
"In all due respect to the administration," said Ribicoff, "they don't know what the hell they're doing with welfare. They're changing their minds every day between now and Aug. 4."
Under the Moynithan amendment, New York would get up to $170 million of the $1 billion - the largest share of any state - and California would be next with a maximum of $159 million. The District of Columbia's limit would be just under $9 million. Virginia's about $13.5 million and Maryland's $15 million. Under a "passthrough" provision. New York City would get about 60 per cent of the state's share.
HEW Representatives told the committee the administration opposed adding the $1 billion to the regular federal welfare reimbursements to the states because it "would prefer to take this up as part of the (Aug. 4) comprehensive reform package."
Moynihan and others said that the President's welfare proposals couldn't conceivably go into effect before 1980 however, and that the extra money is needed immediately.
The $1 billion provision was added to a general welfare bill that also permits families that adopt "hard-to-place" children to receive payments for the children each month from the federal Aid to Families with Dependent Children program.
Under the Moynihan amendment, each state's share of the $1 billion would be based on the ratio of its total spending on AFDC last year to the national total. In the dozen states where cities and counties help pay the local share for AFDC (the federal government pays from 50 to 83 per cent of costs), the state would be required to "pass through" to the local jurisdictions up to 90 per cent of what they laid out.
This would give fiscal relief to the cities. In New York, for example, the federal government paid $766 million, the state government %367 million and local governments $429 million in 1976 for AFDC. This means that every dollar New York would receive - if the provision is accepted in conference with the House - would go to city and local governments, with nothing going to the state.
A Moynihan aide said New York City paid $260 million for the program in 1976, or about 60 per cent of total outlay by cities and local units in the state, so it would get about 60 per cent of whatever share the state would receive of the $1 billion.
Under a committee amendments accepted by Moynihan, the money would be paid in two stages: the first $500 million would come in October, 1977, based on the state-to-national ratio; additional payments would come in.