No Change Here—Spitzer Vetoes Welfare Bill
On Wednesday Governor Spitzer vetoed a modest piece of legislation that would have had a positive impact on the poorest New Yorkers by increasing access to education and job training programs for those receiving welfare. For the last couple of weeks, I reported the stereotype driven arguments that yell for work-first policies, claiming that any job is better than no job.
Almost all women receiving welfare have recent work histories in entry level, low wage jobs. These jobs do not lead to economic stability, promotions, or even jobs with benefits. As a student at Hunter College pointed out to me, "The argument that they have to start somewhere rings hollow. I have worked at Staples and other low wage jobs. They seldom promote, and when they do people who come in from the outside and with a degree always make more."
Clearly, the Governor succumbed to political pressure and the empty rhetoric of work-first. Welfare as a political third rail is alive and well and living in Albany, New York City, Washington, and around the country. Until we have leaders who are more interested in what works for people, more interested in policy that enhances resources for all of us, and more interested in access to opportunity for all, we will persist in having welfare policy that puts poor women and families outside the care of the community and economic opportunity.