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Contentious Debate Over CalWORKs Budget Bill

One part of the budget deal that drew sharp debate Wednesday is the bill that includes changes to California’s welfare-to-work program.

Governor Jerry Brown had proposed a major overhaul of the CalWORKs system that would have limited the amount of time a person could receive welfare. But the governor and Democratic lawmakers reached a compromise that Republican Assemblyman Donald Wagner criticized as not going far enough.

“Before the people should trust us with more of their hard-earned tax money, we should prove we deserve it with real reform. That’s not this bill,” commented Wagner.

Democratic Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell insisted the measure is the best solution in a time of budget cuts and high unemployment.

“CalWORKs must provide opportunities for job seekers – rather than a path to destitution,” said Mitchell.

The bill would reduce the time most Californians can receive welfare from four years to two, with several exceptions. It passed on a mostly party-line vote.

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