Welfare plan seen costing Md. $1 billion

March 23, 1995|By John B. O'Donnell | John B. O'Donnell,Washington Bureau of The Sun

WASHINGTON -- Maryland would lose nearly $1 billion in federal money over the next five years under the sweeping welfare bill that Republicans hope to push through the House this week, according to a Clinton administration analysis of the legislation.

The figures surfaced as tempers flared on the House floor yesterday, soon after lawmakers began to consider amendments to the 396-page bill.

A second analysis that focused on the immediate impact of some of the cuts for states, offered by a key Democrat in the welfare debate, Rep. Harold E. Ford of Tennessee, showed that Maryland's allocation for Aid to Families With Dependent Children (AFDC) would be $17 million less than a state analyst says it needs "just to hold the line" next year.

Maryland officials say they have not yet worked out their own estimate of the measure's impact on the state because many of the details needed for accurate analysis are not yet available. Meanwhile, the analyses from the administration and congressional Democrats, both of which oppose major features of the legislation, began appearing this week on Capitol Hill.

Mr. Ford asserted that Republicans were looking out for their own states in their latest change to the formula for distributing money to the states for AFDC, the nation's main welfare program, and several related programs. Maryland now pays 80,000 families AFDC grants averaging $319 a month. The cost is split 50-50 with the federal government.

Republicans say they are not cutting spending, but rather restraining growth in expenditures.

To officials who administer state programs, the difference is academic.

"We would be under major, major constraints" if the state's allocation for AFDC were $17 million less than officials believe is needed, said Gerald Martin, an analyst for the Maryland Department of Human Services.

He said the state might have to cut grants and reduce efforts to find jobs for welfare recipients.

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