Grassroot Perspective – Aug. 14, 2003-State Spending Increases Despite Nationwide Fiscal Crisis; Let My People Go: The Federal Government's Ten Thousand Commandments; When Contemplating Changes to Your Welfare Reform Programs, Remember Who Brought You to the Dance

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“Dick Rowland Image”

”Shoots (News, Views and Quotes)”


– State Spending Increases Despite Nationwide Fiscal Crisis

The Washington Times reports today that state spending and tax revenues
are expected to rise in the coming fiscal year, even though governors
claim budget deficits have forced them to cut expenditures to the bone.

The National Governors Association’s “Fiscal Survey of States” shows
that tax revenues are expected to rise nearly 3 percent, or by $12
billion, in the 2004 fiscal year. The NGA data also show that contrary
to states’ claims of Draconian spending cuts, expenditures will climb
modestly in the aggregate when California is removed from the equation.

Many governors have refused to raise taxes and have found other ways to
balance their budgets by slowing the growth in spending, including
Republican Gov. Jeb Bush and Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson of New

The fiscal future of other states, however, remains dim. “States have
spent their way into the budget problem,” commented American Legislative
Exchange Council Executive Director Duane Parde to the Times.

In “Florida Is Not Facing a Revenue Crisis,” JMI Research Advisory
Council Chairman Randall Holcombe chronicles the remarkable growth in
Florida’s total state revenues, which have more than doubled in the past
decade. Using the government’s own budget numbers, Holcombe concludes
that revenue growth comes not from higher tax rates, but from growth in
the private sector of the economy. “A healthier private sector leads to
more economic growth, which produces more tax revenues and enhances the
fiscal health of the public sector,” he writes. (For complete text of
this article in the Winter 2003 Journal of the James Madison Institute,

– Let My People Go: The Federal Government’s Ten Thousand Commandments

In President Bush’s second year in office, the Federal Register, a
chronicle of all regulations proposed and enacted by federal agencies,
held an extraordinary 75,606 pages of new rules.

That’s about 300 pages issued each business day during 2002. Not only
is that a new record for the Bush administration, but it’s an all-time
record for any presidential administration, according to Clyde Wayne
Crews Jr. of the Cato Institute.

Every year for the past seven years Crews has analyzed countless pages
of federal regulation data and documented it in “Ten Thousand
Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State.” He
examines the process behind creating these rules, why it’s nearly
impossible for the government to accurately assess what they cost, and
he provides a way by which Congress can rein in the agencies behind the
nonstop rule making.

For more information about “Ten Thousand Commandments,” or about the
Cato Institute, visit

Above articles are quoted from James Madison Institute, Madison Policy
Digest July 14, 2003

”Roots (Food for Thought)”

– Hey States!

When Contemplating Changes to Your Welfare Reform Programs, Remember Who
Brought You to the Dance

Enabled by the Personal Work Opportunities and Responsi-bility Act
(PWORA), which established the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families
(TANF) Program, states have implemented the most successful reform of
welfare in this country’s history. Caseloads are down by over 50%
nationwide, and poverty has decreased dramatically.

The key components of PWORA are: (1) eliminating the “entitlement” to
welfare; (2) requiring recipients to work or participate in work-related
activities; (3) establishing time limits for receiving benefits; and (4)
allowing states’ flexibility in designing and imple-menting their
welfare programs. States that took PROWORA seriously and focused on work
have shown remarkable success; states that did not embrace PRWORA
continue to struggle with high caseloads and costly, inefficient

In the past five years, states have freed up hundreds of millions of
dollars in welfare savings and have used these savings to support a
multitude of programs. The number of former welfare recipients who are
now working and becoming self-sufficient has never been higher. PRWORA
and TANF, much to the chagrin of many cradle-to-grave social service
advocates, has been an unparalleled success.

In our state visits, we have noticed, however, a common but disturbing
trend. A number of states are turning back. They are softening work
require-ments, increasing “good cause” exemp-tions from participating in
legitimate work activities, and finding loopholes around time limits. A
cynic might ascribe this softening of requirements to job preservation.
With caseloads being reduced by 50% or more, it is tough to say that you
need the same staffing as you had when the program served twice as many.

But states ascribe the softening to another reason. “We are now dealing
with the truly hardest to serve. These cases take more time, require
more finesse and far more resources,” seems to be the standard line. In
addition, “we cannot even think about work for these folks. What is
needed is enhanced family and individual counseling, basic and higher
(and, of course, far more time-consuming) education, drug and alcohol
rehabilitation, and a plethora of additional services before recipients
can even be evaluated for work.”

And the result? TANF caseloads are beginning to increase. Nationwide,
cases increased by over 40,000 (about 100,000 individuals) from June
through December 2001. All but nine states saw caseload increases in the
last quarter of 2001. Some of this increase may be attributed to our
sluggish economy; however, there is far more convincing data that
suggests that loosening eligibil-ity requirements and softening work
requirements, increases caseloads far more than periods of slow economic

So what are states to do? The answer is easy. Stick with what brought us
unparalleled success: WORK! States must re-invigorate their welfare
reform efforts. Work must be the key to assist-ing all families’ move to
self-sufficiency. Nothing else works nearly as well. Services for hard
to serve recipients should always be combined with required work
activities. Education, whether basic, remedial, or higher, must be
combined with legitimate work requirements. Training should always be
tied to work; in fact, work is the best indicator of necessary training

In slow economic times with state revenues declining, continued success
in welfare reform is essential. Successful welfare reform based on work
and self-sufficiency not only saves tax dollars, it adds dollars to the
economy in the form of wages.

So remember, states, it was work that brought you to the dance. So why
not grab hold and take another spin around the dance floor? You won’t be

Above article is quoted from The American Institute for Full Employment

”Evergreen (Today’s Quotes)”

“Ninety percent of the politicians give the other ten percent a bad
reputation.” — Henry Kissinger

“There’s no trick to being a humorist when you have the whole government
working for you.” — Will Rogers

“The first black president will be a politician who is black.” — Former
Virginia Governor L. Douglas Wilder

“The President has kept all of the promises he intended to keep.” — Bill
Clinton spokesman George Stephanopolous

”’Edited by Richard O. Rowland, president of Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, 1314 S. King Street, Suite 1163, Honolulu, HI 96814. Phone/fax is 808-591-9193, cell phone is 808-864-1776. Send him an email at:”’ ”’See the Web site at:”’