We're live from the GAB's House Briefing Room where Delegate Bill Janis, The Family Foundation of Virginia, First Things of Greater Richmond and others are addressing the media and calling on Governor Kaine to add members to his poverty commission and look at different angles as to the cause of poverty, i.e., the governor thinks poverty is reduced by increased unemployment insurance. Family Foundation President Victoria Cobb is addressing the news conference: Solutions include more choice in education to give individuals a better chance. But the major factor is marriage! U.Va. sociology professor Brad Wilcox sent statistics that show clearly the major reason for poverty is lack of intact families. Childhood poverty could drop as much as 20 percent if we increased the marriage rate in Virginia. Each Virginia tax payers are on the hook for millions of dollars because of the results of family fragmentation.
Increasing the number of marriages and strengthening existing marriages is essential to decreasing poverty. Governor Kaine did not mention these at all when creating his commission. The Family Foundation sent the governor a letter yesterday asking him to make marriage a priority of his commission in its efforts to reduce poverty in Virginia.
The great thing about marriage is that it works and costs tax payers nothing! But divorce and illegitimacy does in crime, poverty and lack of education.
Now, Delegate Bill Janis is on: He starts by quoting then-candidate Barack Obama about the importance of fathers in children's lives. Hillary Clinton says, "It takes a village to raise a child." But it takes a dad!
The governor has set the table. We want a seat at the table and a responsible discussion. He now repeats stats from here. Two-thirds of poor children live in collapsed homes and results in higher proportions of poverty, teen pregnancy and crime. We spend a trillion dollars in means tested poverty programs every year. This doesn't count K-12 education, either.
This is not a Republican or Democrat issue. Forget about the Swine Flu, broken families are the real epidemic.
What can be done? First thing the government should do is do no harm. In 1996, the last time this country had a serious discussion on poverty was 1996 when President Bill Clinton signed the welfare reform act. The bill's language included as goals the stablization of families, promote marriage, encourage the maintenance of two-parent families and prevent and reduce out of wedlock families. We need to get back to addressing the goals.
We have $16 million in TANF funds in Virginia that was supposed to be earmarked for these goals, but are not being used for them. Why study the problem further when we know what the problem is? Even the Brookings Institute, a liberal think tank, says that a significant percentage of single moms and their families would be instantly lifted out of poverty if they were married to the fathers of their children.
We want to take this out of the realm of partisanship and politics. The governor has led. That's good. But if he wants to try to score political points, that's a shame. If not, we want to help him, those in this room. We started this in 1996, let's finish it now. There are federal funds available now, let's go get them.