A program that gives welfare recipients first priority in hiring for seasonal state jobs saved taxpayers more than $1.2 million during its first seven months, the author of the plan announced Thursday.
Assemblyman Art Agnos (D-San Francisco) said that 921 aid recipients moved off the welfare rolls temporarily last year through his program that offers state jobs to welfare recipients.
The program stems from a 1983 bill sponsored by Agnos that was supported by the Deukmejian Administration.
"As I've long maintained, you don't have to cut welfare grants or threaten to take grants away to get welfare recipients to work," Agnos said. "They want to work in order to become productive members of society."
Agnos and Health and Welfare Secretary David Swoap announced the results of the program at a time when legislators are turning their attention to the question of how to put the state's able-bodied welfare population to work.
More than 20 bills that would create work or job-training programs for welfare recipients have been introduced in the Legislature this year, including one proposal by the Deukmejian Administration that would require some recipients to work in exchange for aid.
The state jobs given to welfare recipients under the Agnos program paid an average of $965 a month, compared to an average aid grant for a family of three of $526.
Types of Jobs
The jobs included inspecting fruit, operating elevators, watching for forest fires and doing clerical and janitorial work.
Between March and September of last year, when the program was first in effect, about 28% of the seasonal jobs available went to welfare recipients.
The program led to permanent state jobs for 36 people who had been on welfare.
"I think the program has been a great success," said 22-year-old Jacqueline Frazier, one of more than a dozen of the job recipients who attended a Capitol press conference with Agnos and Swoap. "It was not mandated for me to do it. I wanted to work."