Press Conference, Continued

Bob Ruthazer of First Things First of Greater Richmond is speaking now: In Richmond, non-marital births are more than 80 percent among blacks and more than 60 percent for all residents. Fatherless children are:

Five times more likely to be poor;

Two-three more times likely to smoke;

Two times more likely to drop out of school;

150 times more likely have a non-marital teen pregnancy;

70 percent of juveniles in state institutions grow up in fatherless homes; and

72 percent of adolescent murderers grow up without fathers.

This is the time to make a modest investment in families. Just one percent investment of TANF funds would make a huge impact.

Now, Arne Owens, a former federal sub-cabinet official is speaking:

Academics throughout the decades, going back to the 1970s, stayed quiet. But in the late 1980s, they started to confront the issue as the statistics became undeniable. Dan Quayle was right about "Murphy Brown"! As one academic wrote, "The divorce experiment has failed."

In the 1990s, a movement began to take shape to advance marriage and the two-parent family. The result was the 1996 welfare reform act. It was designed to negate the negative impact of AFDC (Aid to Families of Dependent Children). It paid a young mother to get divorced and more for each additional child she had out of wedlock.

One of the goals was to move people off welfare and into the workforce. While that has been successful, it has not reached its goals in strengthening families and marriage.

In 2005, Congress passed a $150 million appropriation from TANF funding, that would be dispersed through grants to non-profit groups, to promote fatherhood and intact families, encouraging marriage and preventing divorce.

The CDC said a few weeks ago that out-of wedlock births in this country still is more than 60 percent.

Victoria Cobb summarizes by saying that Governor Kaine cannot address poverty without addressing broken families.

Sources Explain HB 1714

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After all, if the Senate Republicans were concerned about the monumental and successful welfare reform program getting repealed, shouldn't that be a gigantic red flag?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.