Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley Testifies on TANF Reauthorization Before House Subcommittee
by Crystal D. Swann
April 29, 2002
Baltimore Mayor O'Malley testified before the House Ways and Means subcommittee on human resources April 11. Martin O'Malley, appeared on behalf of the Conference of Mayors as Chair of the Task Force on TANF (Temporary Assistant for Needy Families) Reauthorization, and told the committee that state accountability should be increased and the supplanting of funding by the states should be eliminated.
Mayor O'Malley told members of the committee that "there must be greater accountability for how TANF funding is spent..."emphasizing that "far too states are using TANF funds to supplant state funds in their budgets." O'Malley said that while the Conference supports "some level of (state) flexibility to ensure that the wide range of issues we face can be met, stricter controls must be put in place to remind governors that the Congress appropriated these fund for families facing hard times, not politicians facing hard choices."
The House Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Human Resources has jurisdiction over the Reauthorization of the TANF program. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) created the TANF block grant and authorized funding through September 30, 2002. The law repealed the former Aid to Families with Dependent Children program, and with it the individual entitlement to cash welfare benefits. In its place, the 1996 legislation created a new TANF block grant, which provides fixed funding to States to operate programs designed to achieve several purposes: (1) provide assistance to needy families, (2) end the dependence of needy parents on government benefits by promoting job preparation, work, and marriage, (3) prevent and reduce the incidence of out'of'wedlock pregnancies, and (4) encourage the formation and maintenance of healthy two'parent families.
In February, President George W. Bush announced his proposal to reauthorize the TANF program and other key features of the 1996 law. The President's proposal focuses on increasing participation in work and related activities by those receiving cash assistance.