The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on September 29, 1996 · Page 23
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 23

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Salina, Kansas
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Sunday, September 29, 1996
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Page 23
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THE SALINA JOURNAL MONEY SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 29. 1996 C? T WELFARE REFORM Welfare as Kansans know it changes Work will be the focus for recipients under new federal law By LEW FERGUSON Tlie Associated Press TOPEKA — Dramatic changes in Kansas' welfare program take effect Tuesday, under new federal legislation designed to put ^.,more people to work. -"! Secretary Rochelle Chronister '."; of the Department of Social and , Rehabilitation Services, which .,': runs the public assistance pro; gram in Kansas, says she likes ; 'the new system because, "It's go••-' ing in the direction Kansans ».wanted to do." ",.- The new rules stem from the *• welfare reform bill passed by " Congress and signed into law by President Clinton. While Kansas hasn't had its "•' -plan reviewed by federal officials for completeness, as required un"•• der the legislation, Chronister ,said the state is so certain its plan will get the green light that it will proceed to implement it Tuesday. The state plan will be judged on how completely it adheres to requirements of the federal legis- lation. There is little for the Department of Health and Human Services to approve, Chronister said in an interview. The state plan is reviewed just to ensure "it has everything in it it's supposed to have," she said. The Kansas plan is fashioned after a law passed by the 1994 Legislature which required people to work to get welfare, but modified so it complies with the federal legislation. "It made work the focus and imposed sanctions on people who didn't work," Chronister said of the '94 state plan. "That's the same focus the feds have now." Kansas is guaranteed to receive $101.9 million a year for the next five fiscal years in p'ublic assistance block grant money, which is about $10 million more than the .state thought it would get. Also, the state's share of childcare money is being boosted by $8 million to $25 million a year. CHRONISTER That is a key financial boost, the secretary said, because, "You can't put people to work if they don't have child care." Here are key components of the new welfare program: Public Assistance What has been called Aid to Families with Dependent Children is now called Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. Within one year, the state must have 25 percent of its TANF recipients engaged in some kind of work activity to meet the federal timetable. That percentage increases by 5 points each year until it reaches 50 percent in the year 2002. To get TANF, single-parent family recipients will have to work a minimum of 20 hours a week until Oct. 1,1997, then 25 hours by 1999 and 30 hours by 2002. The requirement is higher for two-parent families but there are not many of them, Chronister said. Recipients may receive public assistance for a maximum of two years before they have to go to work the first time they get it, and there is a five-year lifetime limit that they can receive TANF. "This is probably the most dif- ficult requirement, because they will be tracking people," Chronister said. "People don't stay in one state. How are we going to keep track of them?" She said it'is likely recipients will be tracked through their Social Security numbers. "It could require a massive computer system." Supplemental Security Income Children receiving SSI will have to be re-evaluated, and only those that receive this assistance for medical reasons will continue to receive it. Those who have been getting it for behavorial reasons will not longer get it. Chronister said there has been concern parents were cheating, teaching their children how to feign behavorial problems to get the aid. Food Stamps Those between ages 18 and 50 who are physically able to work and have no dependent children will no longer be eligible for food stamps except for three months out of each three years — or one month a year. But the working poor will still get them. The state will be required to keep track of those receiving food stamps. Border hopping by recipients among Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma will be a problem. Child Support Enforcement The new federal law requires states to take driver's licenses, recreational licenses and professional licenses away from deadbeat parents who are in arrears on child-support payments. It also sets up a national tracking system to locate deadbeat parents, requiring employers to report new hires within a short time frame so collectors can be on them quickly. Legal Immigrants Effective now, Chronister said, only legal aliens who have been in the U.S. a minimum of five years, have been in the military, are military dependents, are classed as refugees or have been granted asylum will be eligible for TANF, SSi, food stamps or Medicaid, except emergency Medicaid. Kansas has 26,000 legal immigrants on public assistance, or 1.7 percent of the total recipients. Limits are already working in Florida .Some Florida recipients have found work and are now off assistance By JACKIE HALLIFAX Tlie Associated Press TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Even before a federal cap was clamped on welfare benefits this summer, Joanne Smith had figured out how to live without a monthly check from the government. She had no choice. Florida put a two-year limit on her benefits in 1994. Despite a 4-year-old son and some health problems, the Pensacola woman found work as a telephone operator in July. Her benefits deadline had passed and she was already halfway through a four-month extension. "It is better now because at least I am earning money," she told a reporter last week. "It's not like I'm just getting a handout." Many states started experimenting with limits on cash assistance to poor families before President Clinton signed federal welfare reform in August that sets a national benefits cap of five years. Among the first to experiment were Iowa, Vermont, Wisconsin and Florida. In early 1994, Florida set the clock ticking for families getting Aid to Families with Dependent Children, the core federal cash welfare program, in Escambia County. On Tuesday, Florida expands its experiment statewide. Since February, 26 mothers and two fathers with 52 children among them have lost their AFDC benefits in Escambia County because their two-year clock stopped running. A single parent with two children can get $303 a month from AFDC. In one family, benefits have continued for the three children with the check entrusted to an adult outside the family. In each of the 27 other cases, a state investigator decided the families could care for their children without AFDC. "Florida was the first state in the country that had people reach a two-year time limit," said Steve Savner, a senior staff attorney in Washington with the Center for Law and Social Policy, a nonprofit advocacy group for poor families. By July, all states must set caps on assistance in compliance with the five-year federal limit. When Florida's experiment goes Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles Introduces Elizabeth Barry in August as proof that the new federal welfare reform law will work. File photo statewide, it will cover an estimated 140,000 parents and 350,000 children, putting a lifetime limit of four years on AFDC and requiring recipients to find work. In Escambia, which includes Pensacola, some 2,750 parents have gotten AFDC under the two- year system. Almost 900 were given an extra year. Nearly 700 went off cash assistance because they became self-supporting again. Of the 28 parents who have hit their deadline, a dozen besides Smith found jobs. The rest lost their benefits even though they weren't yet working because they failed to follow job- training rules. If they had lived up to the requirements but couldn't find jobs, the state would be re- quired to provide them with work. Leslie Gillespie, a vocational rehabilitation therapist, has had a front-row perspective on the Escambia reforms from her home in Pace, near Pensacola. She volunteers one day a month on a panel that reviews the cases of people making little progress toward self-sufficiency. Gillespie said she thinks the changes are an excellent start. "We have a lot of people who were taking tax dollars out of the system who are now putting tax dollars in," she said. The Escambia experiment is being studied by Manpower Demonstration Research Corp., a nonprofit organization that has exam- ined welfare programs as well as employment and education for disadvantaged people in 40 states for more than two decades. "It's very relevant nationally because it's the first evidence we're going to have on what impacts a time limit is going to have," said Dan Bloom, a senior researcher in the center's New York City office. But he also noted that with or without time limits, most Americans who apply for welfare are off assistance in less than two years. That's what happened to Elizabeth Barry, cited as a success story by Gov. Lawton Chiles. The 22-year-old single mother of a 2-year-old gave up her monthly $241 check a couple of months before her deadline this summer because she had found full-time work as a paralegal. Barry, who attended community college while in the Escambia program, said she would have become independent on her own eventually. But she said it happened more quickly because of the program's incentives, such as case management and subsidized child-care, along with its looming deadline. Smith, 38, said she thought some of the program's work-training was duplicative. On the other hand, she added, "It does help you set goals for yourself. I was kind of in a depression and a slump and it helped me." V ADM PRICE FIXING LAWSUITS Archer Daniels settles Company with Sajina ties settles price-fixing suits for $65 million By KURT EICHENWALD The New York Times In a flurry of settlements across the country, Archer Daniels Midland Co. agreed Friday to pay more than $65 million to resolve three separate lawsuits stemming largely from a price-fixing scandal at the company. ;^ Under the separate agreements, Archer Daniels would pay $35 million to settle a price-fixing lawsUlt brought on behalf of purchasers'bf citric acid and $30 million to ' shareholders whose stock lost value after the scandal became public. If approved by federal judges in California and Illinois, where the cases are being heard, the settlements Friday would be the largest since price-fixing accusations emerged in 1995. Earlier, the company agreed to pay $25 million to settle a price-fixing suit brought by customers who bought lysine, an amino acid used as a feed supplement. Decatur, HI., based ADM has operations in Salina. A much smaller case, involving claims from Missouri cattle ranchers that an Archer Daniels feed product caused their livestock to die, was also settled Friday for $105,000. That case was important because it involved testimony from some executives tied to the price-fixing case, including ' Mark Whitacre, who was an undercover informant for the government for more than two years. The settlements come as Archer Daniels is trying to settle criminal price-fixing charges with federal prosecutors in Chicago. Some lawyers said that the settlements could well be a sign that Archer Daniels was preparing to reach'a deal with the government. "These settlements will enable them to plead to a" lot of things without a risk of civil exposure," said Clint Kr.islov, a Chicago lawyer who is not involved in the Archer Daniels litigation. "But it may also turn out, if Archer Daniels does plead and the full extent of what happened comes out, a lot of these plaintiffs may wish that they had asked for more." The settlement negotiations with the government have snagged on issues, including the number of products that will be included in the settlement. Government prosecutors have been investigating price-fixing accusations involving lysine, citric acid and high-fructose corn syrup, and lawsuits had been filed contending price-fixinj? in all three products. ; People involved in the various proceedings have said that Archer Daniels would not want to settiQs any criminal charges if it still hap exposure in civil lawsuits. That js because a guilty plea to criminal charges would be irrefutable evidence that the accusations werje true, and the cost of settling the suits would rise astronomically.' If the government has agreed to let Archer Daniels follow th$s strategy, that could mean that any action in the criminal case might be delayed until after final approval of civil settlements by thfc judges involved. By resolving th£ lysine and citric acid lawsuits, lawyers said the company coultl be signaling a willingness to makte a plea involving those products, but not on high-fructose corn syrup. Still, the way some of the cases were settled Friday indicated th4t Archer Daniels might have been in a rush to dispose of them. For example, the company agreed ti> settle the cattle case for more thaji three times what the plaintiffs' lawyers had originally proposell just a few months ago. T GROUP OF SEVEN Richest countries endorse debt-relief plan Measure would aid 20 of world's most heavily indebted countries By MARTIN CRUTSINGER Tlie Associated Press WASHINGTON — Finance officials from the seven wealthiest countries gave their approval Saturday to a debt relief plan for the world's poorest nations while expressing their satisfaction with overall prospects for the global economy. The debt-relief measure, under consideration for two years, is designed to relieve up to $7.7 billion in debts of as many as 20 of the world's most heavily indebted countries, many of them in Africa. As their contribution to the package, the seven wealthy industrial countries pledged to provide debt relief covering up to 80 percent of the debt they hold individually. "The ministers look forward to the implementation without delay of all components of these decisions on a case-by-case basis," Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin said. The announcement followed more than five hours of closed- door discussions among finance ministers and central bank presidents of the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Canada. In addition to debt, the finance officials expressed satisfaction with a global economy that is expected to grow at its best rate in eight years with the lowest infla- tion levels in three decades. They also reviewed progress made in implementing a package of reforms aimed at preventing a financial crisis such as the one that engulfed Mexico a year ago. And they directed that work begin on a second round of initiatives to be presented to President Clinton and leaders of the other nations when they meet for their annual economic summit next June. Rubin said the new initiatives would seek to improve coordination between financial regulators, beef up internal controls of the banking and securities industries in emerging markets and provide better safeguards for the transfer of electronic money payments. The Group of Seven countries heard a report from top finance of- ficials in Russian President Boris Yeltsin's government. Rubin said the G-7 officials praised Yeltsin's team for the "significant progress" made in the past year in stabilizing the Russian economy. The G-7 discussions, held at Blair House across the street from the White House, came in advance of the annual meetings starting today of the 181-nation International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The IMF and World Bank had pledged to contribute to the debt-relief effort, but a snag developed when German officials objected to financing the contribution through the sale of $2 billion in IMF gold reserves. A plan was worked out to provide initial funding without gold to get around the objections. The Associated Press U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin (left) greets German Finance Minister Theo Waigel before their meeting Saturday at the Treasury Department In Washington. ( ... ;

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