President Clinton spread $200 million in bonus money yesterday to 27 states where welfare recipients found and kept jobs.
The president further refined what it means to succeed in welfare reform, saying next year's contest also will reward states that get medical benefits and food stamps to low-income families. He said states will be rewarded, too, when more children live in two-parent families.
In his weekly radio address, Clinton again trumpeted tumbling welfare rolls, announcing that the number of people collecting monthly checks is less than half that of 1994. Fewer than 6.9 million people--about 2.5 million families--collected aid in June.
The welfare bonus contest, created by the 1996 welfare overhaul, rewards states that move the most welfare recipients into jobs, whether or not they leave the system's rolls. States also are rewarded when clients keep jobs for at least three months and receive higher wages.
Neither the District nor Maryland was awarded any funds. Virginia was one of four states that did not apply for an award.
Each winner's share of the $200 million this year is determined by the size of the state's annual welfare appropriation. The money is added to other welfare funds and is subject to the same restrictions.
The amount given to each state was not immediately available. But with 27 winners, the average bonus will be about $7.4 million. The awards range from $500,000 for South Dakota to $45 million for California.
The money goes to the top 10 states in four categories, based on data from 1998.
Indiana was No. 1 in placing the most people into jobs. Minnesota had the most people keep jobs and increase earnings, called "job success." Washington state had the most improvement in job placement from 1997 to 1998. Florida showed the most improvement in job success.
State reports show that nationally, 1.3 million people on welfare went to work in 1998, with 80 percent still working three months later.
On average, quarterly wages increased from $2,088 to $2,571, still short of the poverty line but more than recipients were getting from welfare. These families also are eligible for the earned income tax credit that helps millions of working families move out of poverty.
Backers of the new welfare rules, which require recipients to work and limit the time people can collect assistance, have pointed to falling welfare rolls as proof of the new law's success. Opponents fear that many of the people leaving welfare may be slipping through the cracks and getting nothing.