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Republican Leaders Want to Limit Welfare in Areas With High Unemployment

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Looking ahead to the General Assembly session next month, Republicans are hoping to crack down on welfare abuse. As Michael Pope reports, one of the items on their agenda is increasing work requirements for people receiving public assistance.

Want to receive welfare in Virginia? Republican Delegate Steve Landes says you’d better be working 20 hours of week.

"Basically what we want to do is in lieu of working, able-bodied adults, if they don’t have that option, that they could have an option to volunteer for up to 20 hours a week,” says Landes.

Landes explains that recipients could also qualify by taking job training classes. But critics say the federal program already has a restriction that recipients must work 20 hours a week, the only places where that doesn’t apply are areas with high unemployment — like Buchanan County and Dickenson County.

Ed Bolen at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities says there’s another problem with the proposal.

“States that actually try to do that usually have to actually put up resources because people will be asking for job training classes or job training programs or help in finding jobs," explains Bolen. "So it’s not clear exactly how much of a commitment this proposal is in actually helping people find jobs.”

Republican leaders also say they want to crosscheck welfare recipients with lottery winners to make sure newly wealthy people aren’t collecting public assistance.

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