Today, Gov. Terry Branstad sent a letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius expressing his concerns over the weakening of work requirements for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.
In the letter, Gov. Branstad states, "I am concerned that your Department has watered down the most powerful element of the welfare reform efforts -- a clear expectation that those who get temporary help from their fellow citizens must become self-sufficient through work in a timely manner."
Gov. Branstad, along with Govs. Thompson of Wisconsin and Engler of Michigan, helped lead a bipartisan effort to reform welfare in the mid-1990s. Together, they worked with Congress and President Clinton to pass the landmark legislation.
Gov. Branstad continued: "The work requirements in TANF have been successful in Iowa. In 1996 when work requirements were implemented, Iowa had more than 86,000 Iowans on TANF. Today, Iowa has just over 43,000 Iowans on TANF. Work requirements have been instrumental in serving Iowans in this program."
The governor also wrote, "Simply put, we believe the work requirements have led to greater long-term success for Iowans and the management of our TANF program."
Gov. Branstad in releasing the letter said, "I understand President Obama while an Illinois State Senator opposed the Federal welfare reform efforts. The success of the reform efforts is evident across Iowa and the nation. However, that success did not prevent President Obama's administration and HHS from diminishing the power that clear work and training expectations can play in improving peoples' lives."