GOVERNOR'S REMARKS ON WELFARE REFORM PLAN
OCTOBER 1, 1996


Good afternoon.

We gather here today to mark an historic occasion -- the end of welfare as we know it. Today, Oct. 1, is the start of a new federal fiscal year. But more importantly, it is the start of a new and better way of life for Kentucky's less fortunate.

With the release of this plan today, Kentucky takes a bold step toward providing its poor families with the tools they need to break the cycle of dependence and to move into a new era of self-determination, and self-sufficiency.

Beginning today, Kentucky is granted more freedom to craft a welfare program that works best for Kentucky. The days of "one size fits all" are gone. Now we have the flexibility to make programs in one region of the state different than those in another region. And we will. The hills and hollows of Pike County have different needs -- and different strengths -- than the cornfields of Henderson County or the urban streets of Louisville or Lexington. Washington recognizes this diversity, and we here in Frankfort will incorporate these regional differences into our thinking as we move forward.

The Kentucky Transitional Assistance Program was put together through the hard work of Viola Miller, secretary of the Cabinet for Families and Children, many others on her staff, and key people in Workforce Development; Economic Development; Education, Arts & Humanities; Health Services; Transportation and other cabinets and offices throughout state government. As we continue to develop our plan, we will also continue to work together, creating new employment opportunities where few jobs exist; finding ways to put participants to work; linking them with child care, training and education; and in general getting this new workforce ready to become full players in the economy of our commonwealth.

My goal as governor is to set Kentucky on the path to achieving economic opportunity and a standard of living above the national average in 20 years. What we are doing today is a part of meeting that goal. The plan we are presenting will attempt to help everyone who receives public assistance find rewarding, full-time, private sector jobs. But I know that may not be practical. So, in areas where we will not compete with the existing labor pool, some participants will receive subsidized wages while working for private employers. Others will be placed in community service and workfare jobs in exchange for their benefits. And we will keep working with these folks to find permanent, good-paying jobs so everyone will enjoy the benefits of honest work.

Children will benefit from the Kentucky plan as well. Better collection of child support, stronger initiatives to reduce teen pregnancy and new incentives to keep kids in school are among the ways we will work to improve the lives of Kentucky's impoverished children.

Changing a 60-year-old welfare culture will not be easy -- not for participants, not even for state employees who are used to doing things a certain way. Jobs may not always be available in every county. We will have to make adjustments in our plan as we learn what works and what doesn't. But it will be done. It must be done.

Welfare reform is not something government can do alone. It will take all of us working together -- non-profit agencies and private companies, churches and synagogues, office executives and coal miners, politicians and ordinary folks -- to make this work. Individual communities may be asked to form collaborations to provide many of the services our participants will need. And by sharing the burden we can all benefit as we gain new jobs for Kentucky's citizens and a bright future for Kentucky's children.

Thank you very much, and now I'll ask Secretary Miller to give you more details.