Given the wildly inaccurate description of the TANF Emergency Fund on the “YouCut” website, the vote to eliminate the program is meaningless. Far from a “backdoor way to undo” welfare reform, the fund has enabled states to expand work-focused programs within TANF despite high unemployment and a weak economy.
BEYOND THE NUMBERS
In an earlier post, I explained that the TANF Emergency Fund is helping to place some 180,000 low-income parents and youth who would otherwise be unemployed into paid jobs in the private and public sectors. The table below lists the estimated number of jobs in most of the 35 states that are operating jobs programs (or are planning to) using the fund.
As we said in this morning’s statement, there’s lots of good news in the April jobs report, but we’re going to need many more months like April to pull unemployment down toward pre-recession levels. The charts below help flesh out the story.
Analyzing the new GDP figures issued Friday, which showed state and local spending falling at the fastest rate in three decades, Matt Yglesias made the important point that the large cuts in state and local spending are a drag on the economy. The new figures are just the latest evidence that Congress should extend the Recovery Act’s fiscal relief to states.
A little-known component of last year’s Recovery Act is helping to place some 180,000 unemployed individuals in subsidized jobs across the country. But the program — and almost all of those jobs — will disappear soon unless Congress acts.
The deep cuts in public services and millionaire-friendly tax policies that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has proposed have made him a poster child for good governance for conservatives like Fred Barnes and George Will. But his proposals also highlight — if unintentionally — the need for a better, balanced approach to meeting public needs despite a recession-fueled plunge in state revenues.
The New York Times reports that hundreds of thousands of teachers across the country could face layoffs in June, as state revenues remain weak and federal Recovery Act assistance will soon dry up. (The Washington Post has a similar story.)
As Congress considers whether to extend the state fiscal assistance in last year’s Recovery Act, it should keep in mind that without those funds, states will have a very hard time continuing their initiatives to improve their schools.
Education is the single biggest item in state budgets. So when the recession triggered an unprecedented decline in state revenues, it’s not surprising that most states cut education spending to help close their shortfalls.
While it’s certainly good news that Congress has put the program providing extra weeks of unemployment insurance (UI) benefits back on life support through the end of May, lawmakers must resolve the uncertainty facing jobless workers and the overall economy by extending the program through the rest of this year.
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