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Governor's Veto Jeopardizes Welfare Reform Progress, Damages Programs for the Elderly

Governor Keating's veto of welfare-to-work funds will jeopardize the progress Oklahoma has made on the welfare reform front, in addition to damaging assistance programs for senior citizens, according to the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Human Services.

"We're making unbelievable progress in getting thousands of welfare recipients off state assistance and putting them back to work. I am disappointed. This veto will negatively impact our efforts at providing child care and job placement for people who need to work," said Senator Ben Brown.

Late yesterday, the Governor vetoed $11 million earmarked for welfare-to-work initiatives and senior citizen programs in the Department of Human Service. The work initiatives combined with Oklahoma's growing economy have been responsible for cutting Oklahoma's welfare rolls almost in half in the past few years.

The state's caseload of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF, formerly known as AFDC) has dropped from approximately 47,000 to 25,000 in the past four years.

"I'd hate to see such a positive trend reversed, but that's the prospect we're facing because of Governor Keating's veto. I shudder to think that our welfare rolls will increase in the coming months, or that we may back slide on welfare to work," said Senator Brown.

"We are terribly disturbed by the veto's impact on programs for senior citizens. The funds slashed by the Governor were earmarked for elderly nutrition programs, geriatric day care services and other senior initiatives.

"Governor Keating's veto is going to affect thousands of senior citizens and their families. I don't see how he can justify eliminating meals for the elderly in a year that we have surplus funding. It indicates a lack of concern for our senior population," said Senator Brown.

Contact info
Senate Communications Division - (405) 521-5605