New Louisiana governor to undo welfare reform

Hope and change is coming to Louisiana after the defeat of David Vitter last month. John Bel Edwards swept to victory by a double digit margin and let everyone know that he was going to start changing up the game. Now, well before he’s even taken the oath of office, Edwards is prepping for some of his first big reforms in the financially troubled state. One of the top items on his docket is getting rid of the work requirement for able bodied food stamp recipients. (WDSU News)

Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards intends to remove work requirements that Gov. Bobby Jindal has enacted for more than 60,000 food stamp recipients.

Edwards sent a letter Monday to the U.S. Department of Agriculture saying he will seek a federal waiver of the work requirements. The governor-elect says Louisiana’s unemployment rate qualifies it to skip the work mandate.

He’s asking the USDA and the state social services department to stop any interruption of benefits until Edwards can reapply for the waiver that Jindal allowed to expire.

This reform was supposed to kick in on January 1st and would have required able bodied individuals with no children between the ages of 18 and 49 to participate in 20 hours of work per week or be enrolled in a work training program to qualify for benefits. (Not exactly onerous conditions.) And, of course, there would be easily obtainable exceptions for those with disabilities or other complicating factors which prohibited working. But as with most Democrat administrations, that was too much of a burden to put on anyone.

It’s not as if this is a unique situation in states and cities where Democrats take power. We already discussed the situation in New York City which is pretty much a direct parallel. As soon as Bill de Blasio took over as Mayor of the Big Apple he began peeling back decades of welfare reform which had taken the city from cash assistance rolls in excess of one million down to barely 20% of their historic highs. As a result, while 2015 saw economic recovery finally making its way to the city with tens of thousands of new jobs opening up, the welfare rolls actually rose dramatically. (A trend projected to continue well into the coming year.)

New York City never really went truly conservative, but this is one area where working class residents finally grew fed up with the situation and voted in leaders who promised reform. Louisiana is much closer to being a red area than New York City will ever be so it will be instructive to see how the working residents of the state react to these “reforms” as the process rolls out. But hey… you asked for John Bel Edwards, Louisiana. Now you’ve got him.


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