Governor Offers to Double Child-Care Allocation
The Deukmejian Administration is offering to more than double its proposed spending on child-care programs and, for the first time, to aid some working parents in an attempt to win last-minute approval for landmark workfare legislation.
Senate President Pro Tem David A. Roberti (D-Los Angeles), who has stalled the workfare bill in an effort to obtain child-care money, objected to the offer on Wednesday, however, because he said it would draw funds from other programs.
Roberti said it would be difficult for the workfare bill to win passage before the Legislature adjourns Friday, but he agreed to meet late Wednesday night with Health and Welfare Secretary David Swoap to see if a compromise could be worked out.
The workfare bill, the subject of a bipartisan compromise in the Assembly, would require about 170,000 able-bodied welfare recipients to perform community service work, receive job training or go to school in exchange for their grants.
Among its provisions, the bill would reimburse welfare mothers for their child-care expenses while they participate in the program’s work or educational programs.
Roberti blocked the bill in the Senate, arguing that welfare parents would take already scarce slots in child-care centers away from parents who have jobs.
The Deukmejian Administration, which has shown little willingness in the past to negotiate with lawmakers, offered to add $36 million for the development of additional child-care centers to the $31 million allocated in the bill for child-care payments to welfare parents.
Details of the Administration proposal were obtained from a legislative source.
An Administration official, who asked not to be named, called the offer “a very substantial, major proposal. It moves us really dramatically from our original estimates on providing child care.”
At least $8 million would go to meet the child-care needs of parents who recently found jobs and got off welfare.
The offer got a cool reception from Roberti, who last year was unsuccessful in persuading Gov. George Deukmejian to subsidize child-care for working parents.
Roberti said the Administration proposal would take money from such unrelated programs as one that finances child-care for teen-age mothers, none of whom would be likely to participate in workfare. The children of workfare recipients must be at least 6 years old.
“It appears that some programs would be lost,” Roberti said. “I have an open mind, but it’s closing more and more.”