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Bill To Increase Welfare Payments Stalls In California Assembly

  

A bill that would increase welfare payments for Californians when they complete educational degrees has stalled in the state Assembly. In an unusual twist, it’s Democrats who blocked the bill and a Republican who authored it.

The measure would raise payments for welfare recipients when they complete certain educational milestones — get a G.E.D., or complete community college or job training. It’s part of a package of anti-poverty measures from Assembly Republicans.

"There isn’t one answer to the problem," says Assembly Republican leader Chad Mayes, the bill’s author. "I think that free enterprise is really the greatest weapon like Jack Kemp said, but I also believe that when we have programs that aren’t providing the greatest outcomes, then we want to try to fix them."

The bill has the support of anti-poverty groups, and no registered opposition. But Democrats on the Assembly Human Services committee blocked it last week. Some lawmakers argued higher welfare payments should kick in while recipients are taking education classes, not after. But there was also a clear political component.

Assemblyman Mark Stone noted the measure would cost $20 million.

"I don’t remember ever a single Republican vote for the General Fund budget," Stone says. "So how do we honestly have a budget conversation, when there’s an entire section of the Legislature that refuses to vote for the budget that this would have to be a part of?"

The committee did not vote but said it will reconsider the measure next month.