Paladino’s “Dignity Corps” would increase government spending, not reform welfare

NYHTC — October 26, 2010

An article in the Buffalo News probed the potential ramifications of Carl Paladino's proposal to make New York's public assistance recipients, as well as its long-term unemployed, work for their benefits, which the former are already required to do by the federal welfare reform law of 1996, a significant piece of legislation Paladino seems to be unaware of. The primary difference between his proposal and what is already in effect is that Paladino would like to force the long-term unemployed to work for their benefits, like welfare recipients do.

Though welfare recipients already work for their benefits (known as "workfare"), Paladino would make it mandatory for the long-term unemployed, also. They would have the option of being sent to upstate prisons that have been converted into welfare camps to perform this work and take classes on personal hygiene although urban dwellers could remain in their cities and participate in the Dignity Corps programs there. The campaign has admitted, however, that the costs of converting prisons into Dignity Corps centers, staffing them, and increasing staffing for running workfare programs to include the unemployed, would be more than the state currently spends on welfare and unemployment benefits.

Paladino's view of welfare in New York seems to be based on a number of myths: that welfare is a drain on taxpayers (it consumes only 1.5 percent of the state budget); that the welfare rolls are huge and growing (they have shrunk by 42 percent since 1999 and have increased only slightly since the current recession began); that welfare pays as much as working (a single person on welfare receives around $160 per month); and that people stay on welfare forever (federally funded welfare benefits stop after five years, although New York does have its own safety net program that offers benefits beyond that time limit).

Zremski, Jerry. 'Dignity Corps' proposals confuse welfare experts. Buffalo News. October 16, 2010.