McLean, VA: Patrick Hope (D-Arlington) drew a strong contrast with former Lt. Governor Don Beyer at last night’s candidates’ forum. The forum included a straw poll of attendees and Hope won a significant upset victory well outside his political base.
Hope highlighted the 3,903 children in Fairfax County on a waiting list for subsidized childcare due to the Virginia “welfare reform” that Don Beyer called his “crowning achievement” as Lt. Gov. and that Beyer said was the “model” for welfare reform in the rest of the nation.
THE FACTS ON THE ALLEN/BEYER WELFARE REFORM PLAN:
* Many individuals on welfare are young parents.
* The idea behind welfare reform was that by giving parents childcare subsidies, the parents could work and no longer need welfare benefits
* When this compromise was announced between Gov. George Allen and Lt. Gov. Don Beyer, the childcare portion was fully funded under a 50-50 state/local match.
* Beyer agreed to this deal with no permanent funding mechanism and-as with any state program without its own funding source-the GOP-dominated legislature cut welfare funding every time the state had a budget crunch.
* Localities were left with a choice: either match the reduced state funding and create a waiting list for the difference in the list, or to “overmatch” and take on more costs themselves. Many, including Fairfax County where last night’s debate was held, chose only to match the state money and created long childcare waiting lists.
* Today, 3,903 children from 2,504 families are on the waiting list for subsidized childcare in Fairfax County-27% of the entire statewide waiting list. Most of them live in south Fairfax County and are in the 8th Congressional District.
* Beyer chose to “make a deal” that failed to fund welfare rather than demand a deal that actually accomplished what he promised. This is exactly Hope’s concern with Beyer in Congress-especially with issues such as a “grand bargain” likely coming up for a vote in the next Congress.