Seattle Action Network Supports: Self-Sufficiency Project

The Self-Sufficiency Project was a Canadian experiment in the 1990s that provided a “generous, time-limited earnings supplement available to single parents who had been on welfare for a least a year, and who subsequently left welfare and found full-time work.”

The study found that individuals offered a SSP subsidy were four percent more likely to stay on welfare to receive the benefit, but once people qualified for the SSP supplement, 44% left welfare dependence and were employed full-time–defined as working at least 30 hours a week.

The program was interesting since increases in employment boosted payroll and other taxes to a large enough extent that the subsidy paid for itself.

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Seattle Action Network Supports: Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act

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The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) is a United States federal law considered to be a fundamental shift in both the method and goal of federal cash assistance to the poor. The bill added a workforce development component to welfare legislation, encouraging employment among the poor. The bill was a cornerstone of the Republican Contract with America and was introduced by Rep. E. Clay Shaw, Jr. (R-FL-22).

Bill Clinton signed PRWORA into law on August 22, 1996, fulfilling his 1992 campaign promise to “end welfare as we have come to know it”.

PRWORA instituted Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which became effective July 1, 1997. TANF replaced the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program—which had been in effect since 1935—and supplanted the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training program (JOBS) of 1988.

The law was heralded as a “reassertion of America’s work ethic” by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, largely in response to the bill’s workfare component. TANF was reauthorized in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005.

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Sisyphean Tales: Senate Shoo-In Pramila Jayapal Mulls New State

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Sisyphean Tales: Senate Shoo-In Pramila Jayapal Mulls New State

Ready for a rest after a campaign that put her more than 30 percentage points ahead of her closest competitor, and with the general election still to go, Pramila Jayapal isn’t diving into details of her plan of attack in the state Senate just yet. But she’s got some long-term plans for sure, and they’re of Herculean proportions. Or maybe Sisyphean.

Basically, she wants to restart the conversation about a state income tax. Or the kind of tax on the wealthy that voters overwhelmingly rejected in 2010, when presented with an initiative supported by Bill Gates Sr. Or some other alternative to the regressive sales tax that she can’t think of yet but probably won’t be an easy sell either. As she notes, anyone who has put forward such an idea in the past “has failed miserably.”

So why does she say she’s “most excited” about this right now? She says she sees no other choice. In her race for the South Seattle, 37th District seat that Adam Kline’s retirement left open, the longtime immigration rights activist says she was presented with a host of urgent needs, from finally passing a transportation package to dramatically ramping up education funding in a way that will satisfy the judge overseeing progress on the landmark McCleary decision.

The money’s got to come from somewhere, and she argues sales taxes will only take us so far. They don’t fully take advantage of the growing wealth around here because they only apply to what we buy, and just goods not services. Plus, they’re widely regarded as “regressive,” meaning the poor pay a larger share of their income than do the rich.

As she talked about this while doorbelling, people let her know that they weren’t prepared to pay an income tax on top of all the other taxes they pay. So she says the state would have to tinker with the whole tax system, possibly in a way that kept a lesser amount of sales taxes and combined them with an income tax.

That’s a huge undertaking, which is why she envisions it as a “serious, multi-year effort,” not anything she can remotely accomplish next session. And she still has the general election to get through and the changing politics of the legislature to figure out. A few tight races, like the one involving turncoat Democratic Tom Shelton, leave it uncertain whether the Senate’s ruling Majority Coalition will hold.

Still, she says, “that’s what I’ve spent the most time thinking about.” She adds that she hopes her strong showing this week will give her some leeway. So we soon may see her start rolling the ball up the hill.

Visit Pramila JayapalWebsite