Heartland Institute Issues 2015 Welfare Reform Report Card

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Massachusetts, Missouri among seven states that earned ‘F’ grades on the Welfare Reform Report Card; South Dakota finishes 1st, Wisconsin 5th on welfare reform policies

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'We’ve got the richest nation in the world. We’ve got an obligation to people less fortunate than ourselves – people that have these barriers to help them get into the system that we know is the greatest in the world.' - Gary MacDougal

Seven states earned an “F” for their welfare reform policies on the 2015 Welfare Reform Report Card, a comprehensive piece of scholarship produced by four public policy researchers at The Heartland Institute.

Missouri had the lowest grade, finishing last among the 50 states. The other states that received an “F” on the 2015 Welfare Reform Report Card were, No. 49 Massachusetts, No. 48 Vermont, No. 44 Georgia, and Rhode Island, Oregon, and Alabama, which all tied for No. 45.

South Dakota finished at the top of the list, followed by Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Wisconsin, and Michigan rounding out the states that earned an “A.”

Read the executive summary and full report titled "2015 Welfare Reform Report Card: A State-by-State Analysis of Anti-Poverty Performance and Welfare Reform Policies."

Click here to compare grades, state-by-state.

Nearly two decades ago, in 1996, Congress passed and President Bill Clinton signed a reform measure ending the national entitlement to welfare for families with dependent children. Each state implemented welfare reform differently and a natural experiment began, allowing researchers to discover welfare policies that help people become financially independent and escape poverty.

“One of the main points here is, it doesn’t take a lot of governors’ time or legislators’ time to do something that really makes a difference,” said lead author Gary MacDougal, a policy advisor at The Heartland Institute. “We’ve got the richest nation in the world. We’ve got an obligation to people less fortunate than ourselves – people that have these barriers to help them get into the system that we know is the greatest in the world.”

“Its something that’s very fixable and Heartland stands ready to help,” MacDougal said.

The 2015 Welfare Reform Report Card grades five policies key to the goal of welfare: raising the standard of living of the nation’s poor by moving them to work and self-sufficiency. Those five policies are work requirements, cash diversion, service integration, time limits, and sanctions.

To read the welfare reform report card – and compare the grades state-by-state using an interactive map – visit heartland.org/welfare-reform.

To schedule an interview with a Heartland expert on welfare reform to talk about this report, please contact Director of Communications Jim Lakely at jlakely(at)heartland(dot)org and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 312/731-9364.
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The Heartland Institute is a 31-year-old national nonprofit organization headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.

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