On Wednesday we wondered aloud how HB 1714 slipped by the House. After all, if the Senate Republicans were concerned about the monumental and successful welfare reform program getting repealed, shouldn't that be a gigantic red flag? More suspicions were raised yesterday when Delegate Bob Marshall's (R-13, Prince William) budget amendment (Item 338) on the floor to nullify HB 1714 was resoundingly defeated (although a strange mix of liberals and conservatives voted with Delegate Marshall).
We also questioned the fiscal impact statement which claims this new approach will save money by spending new money. Today, the bill, which is back in the House because of an amendment added in the Senate, was passed by for the day.
Here's the scoop, according to some highly placed, reliable FF sources: The House was aware of the bill when it passed. It didn't just slip by. The idea of extending the availability of diversionary assistance money is to get those who qualify for actual welfare — which costs the state more money — to enroll in TANF instead. It won't save a lot of money, but it is a savings.
Additionally, our sources tell us, the reason HB 1714 was passed by today is because there will be something offered Monday to alleviate concerns.